In addition to attorney, wife and mom, I am also a nerd. This is best evidenced by the glasses I wore starting in the fifth grade, a fashion accessory that told everyone who saw me all they needed to know about me.
As a nerd, I hate not knowing. If I don’t know about something, I research. I gather. I learn. My worst habit is pretending I know something when I don’t, an affliction held by many attorneys borne out of a primal need to not look stupid in front of judges and/or the entire world.
Enter the Internet, the best thing to happen to nerds since science. Obviously a double-edged sword, I never have to admit I don’t know something — but I also end up seeing things I can’t unsee. Enter The Deployment Care Package Search on Pinterest.
When I asked my husband what I could send him, his response was, “I dunno. Whatever?” I appreciate that he loves me too much to feed into my obsessive need to know the “right” answer. I know he will tell me he loves every bag of trail mix and box of cookies I send, but I’d rather send useful things that won’t wind up in the “Take It Please” box of orphaned care packages. I wanted a list of smart things to put in a care package, a list of things that are durable, won’t melt in South-Central Asian heat, and that Soldiers might, you know, like.
Like the good and loyal nerd that I am, I went online. And maybe this is where I went wrong: I started with Pinterest.
Oh, Pinterest. I had such high hopes for you. A virtual inspiration board? There’s no way I’d have the time or patience to make the offline version — I’m in! But instead, Pinterest has devolved into the place to put projects for the homemaker I wish I was: mom who dyes rice for a sensory box for her toddlers; mom who crafts a pine cone turkey with her three-year old; mom who makes homemade taco seasoning; mom who takes the time to untangle Toddler Rapunzel’s hair with the fabric softener cocktail. And the wife who does care package crafts with her children.
If you’re the sort that loves horror movies and hates crafts, do a Pinterest search for “deployment care package.” I dare you.
At first I thought, “Neat! I can do this with the kids, give them a way to connect while he’s away.” But then.
A “Happy Birthday!” banner that pops up when you open the box. A Christmas themed box complete with tinsel and “Goodbye Rudolph” hunting diorama. Star Wars themed. Sushi themed. Mini themed. Printables. Crap.
I am so screwed.
The care package is one of those emotional minefields, a simple box that carries this enormous weight. While sending my first package to my husband, the brief idea passed through me that this box would see him before I would. I broke into tears, leading to the imaginary confrontation of Emotionally Healthy Josie taking Crying in the Post Office Josie by her shoulders and shaking while screaming: “IT’S A BOX. IT CAN’T SEE SHIT. SNAP OUT OF IT.”
It’s just a box. A box filled with tangible things: candy, baby wipes, cookies, tuna fish, protein bars. But they are things that will touch my most favorite person. He will open this and doubt my love because fireworks do not shoot off and the Star Spangled Banner play. How do I come up with pithy knock knock jokes to paint on the inside flaps? Where can I buy mustache print scrapbook paper for my barbershop themed box? Help, I need candy label jokes for my pun theme!
Is the only thing I can do to show my love build the best, most amazing, craftiest care package known to man?
Of course not. But tell it to my heart, Taylor Dayne. This stupid, stupid box is one of a tiny minute handful of things I can control. Pouring my hopes and dreams into a 12 by 12 by 6 inch box keeps my mind off the host of uncontrollable and unmentionable things that creep in. Global politics. Government shut downs. What’s for dinner. Halloween without my favorite superhero. To that end, the care package obsession is a welcome distraction.
But I don’t think we’re in danger of me breaking out the glue gun and glitter just yet. To be honest, if my husband did get a themed care package full of miniatures, crafty puns or scrapbooking decorations, he would probably call a neighbor to check on me. Until then, I will load my care packages with my anxieties, with the hopes they wear off before they reach Afghanistan.
Josie Beets is an attorney, military spouse, and mom. When she’s not at her day job (which she loves – hi boss!) she is Online Editor of the Military Spouse JD Network. You can also follow her on Twitter @JosieBeets.