The entire evolution begins right around the time one is about to fall asleep- that phase where one is just coming into a delusional but realistic crossover into the dreamworld phase. About an hour after taps a siren will sound indicating that it is time to “man your battle stations,” and simulate a shipboard attack.
The recruits are sprung into action and never stop moving from that moment forward. The entire night is spent testing everything learned about survival swimming, first aid and safety procedures, fire-fighting, rifle shooting, damage control to name a few. All of this is performed to the highest standard under intense conditions- always with an emphasis on teamwork. Over the next 12 hours in a massive hands-on exercise the recruits will feign a wartime scenario. It is designed to test endurance, fortitude and stamina. This had proved to be an incredible test of will-power and preparation of my future Naval career ahead. It also was the closest comparison to the challenge I (being one of those recruits) would face in the next phase in my life after the Navy: motherhood.
Last night, as I arose every hour, on the hour for various reasons, I could not help but think comparatively of the night I endured the ultimate “battlestation” test back in my boot camp days.
The following is a rough play-by-play of my night:
10:30pm- Lights out. Excited I made it to bed early- I was anticipating the fact that I may actually squeak out 8 hours of sleep on a weekend! I slipped between the cool sheets and snuggled into my plush, comfy bed and easily drifted off to dreamland.
11:20- Abruptly awakened as my child feels it is necessary to notify me that she is using the bathroom. Permission granted- I re-emphasize permission is not required.
11:30- Now awakened- I realize how hot the bedroom has become as I forgot to turn down the heat. Reluctantly, I trek downstairs and turn down the heat, and quickly return to bed.
12:43- 2nd Child wakes up to remind me that she still needs lunch money on Monday. I assure her that this can be addressed in the morning. She will not go hungry.
2:18- I awake to the cat trying to get out of my room. Apparently she ran in and became trapped inside last time a child came in. I let the cat out and climb back into bed. I yet again attempt to fall asleep.
3:45- 3rd child wets bed. Mechanically, I change the sheets. When changing sheets- I pull out a tooth secured neatly in a Ziplock bag and realize we had forgotten to leave tooth fairy money. I set alarm for half an hour in hopes that he will be back asleep so the ‘tooth fairy’ can inconspicuously retrieve tooth under pillow.
4:00- I return to bed.
4:10- 2nd child awakes to ask permission to use bathroom.
4:35- Alarm goes off. I deliriously awake from my 5 minute slumber to delicately stuff $2 under the pillow and ever so slowly slide out the tooth. I attempt to be stealthy- thinking like a ninja. I trip over toys upon my exit. I realize I am not a ninja. This saddens me for a second.
4:53- Blasted cat begins meowing outside of bedroom door indicating the expectation of food. I get up and scold obscenities that can only be spoken at 4:53 in the morning to the cat.
5:01- Cat continues to disrespectfully scratch outside the door-now in retaliation I am sure. I force myself to ignore the cat. I secretly promise myself I will invest in a shock-collar with a remote for the cat.
6:02- Kids bombard the bed- announcing the arrival of morning in jubilance. In a state of fog, I get up, put some cartoons on the TV and retreat back to my bedroom in desperate hopes for just a few more minutes of sleep. I’m fishing for crumbs.
6:15- Kids begin tattling on each other. I referee.
6:30- Listening to commotion- I at last forfeit any hopes and dreams of obtaining a good night’s sleep. I wake and attempt to press on despite my defeat. I stumble to the kitchen and put on the coffee.
In my stupor, it suddenly occurred to me the countless nights I have relied on my Battlestations training without realizing it. The digging deeper- finding the extra "umph" inside to push through sheer exhaustion. Although Battlestations was preparing for us all for a war-time scenario, I didn’t realize at the time the fires I’d later be putting out all night were those of my children’s. I wonder if all of the old RDC’s that lead us back then realized that their wives were probably going through their own Battlestations at home at that very night.