Ask my husband… I’m entering the full-on high-strung, must get everything done right now stress mode. Everyone spouse reacts differently, and I guess this is my way. I know I can’t be alone in saying the anticipation is one of the worst parts. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I’m endlessly thankful for the world’s most patient husband when I decide the laundry needs to be folded at 9pm when we are about to go to sleep, or the bottle washing can’t wait until morning. I may be stressing about solo parenting our nuthouse for the majority of a year, but I won’t be losing sleep over the 12 unfolded shirts on the floor next to the bed. Logical? No, probably not. But he knows it makes me feel better and that’s what I do. We all knew it was coming eventually. Every military spouse knows the giant pit in your stomach you get when your husband comes home from work and mentions the “D” word.
Safe, dangerous. Predictable, unpredictable. Communication, no communication. It doesn’t really matter what kind of deployment. They all suck. A few months ago Steve came home with the news. This will be his third deployment, and the third we’ve tackled together as a married couple.
1. Afghanistan. The first deployment we had been married about five minutes [exaggeration, but not by much]. Communication was pretty much nonexistent. I can count the number of phone calls I received in that seven months on one hand, and they were on a crappy satellite phone, and you could hardly call any of them an actual conversation. We were lucky if the call didn’t drop for five minutes. We wrote an insane amount of letters, but they were delayed almost two months to and from the little compound [with no power] he was living in. Once spring hit, they were in firefights everyday, and the IED threat was no joke. Several of our friends came home wounded and several members of their company didn’t come home at all. But then there was this.
2. Afghanistan, again. His second deployment was completely different and had a completely different set of challenges. He was on a major base. While he still had bouts of combat, he was sleeping on a bed, taking showers, going to the gym, and Skyping home everyday. Not to say this one was easier. Just different. We welcomed our son into the world while he was in a war zone 7,000 miles away, and he didn’t come home until he was nearly four months old. Knowing how badly he wanted to be there, but couldn’t, was by far the hardest part for me. But then there was this.
3. So here we are, gearing up for Deployment #3 this year. It will be inevitably different from his previous two, but not easy by any means. There will be challenges. The first that comes to mind is how hard it will be for him to leave his family. We’re in our fifth year of marriage and I have not doubted for one second that he loves us more than anything in the world. And I know he doesn’t want to be away from us. The second that comes to mind is Mitchell not having Daddy around, because they have a pretty amazing bond and he is so blessed to have such an amazingly strong male role model in his life. The last one that comes to mind is the logistical nightmare of juggling a new baby, toddler, two dogs, keeping up with housework, and a full-time job all at the same time.But I know there will be a new homecoming picture once it’s all said and done.
Steve is always excited about deployments, in a bitter-sweet way. I’ve heard wives complain about their husbands wanting to deploy. Or husbands who don’t tell their wives they actually volunteered for a deployment because they wouldn’t understand why they’d want to leave their family. It’s not so much wanting to leave. But imagine training to do your job everyday of the year, and never actually getting to do it. It would be like a nurse treating a sick dummy but never having a patient. Or a teacher practicing their lesson plan on an empty classroom for an entire school year. Of course he wants to go do his job, and I can’t blame him. Deployments are necessary for career progression, too. So as much as it may not seem like it, getting sent on this deployment is actually a good thing.
I’ll keep myself busy, because that’s just how I get through these things. I am by no means an expert on deployments. But we’re definitely learning more about surviving them as a couple [him off doing Marine things and me taking care of the home]. There’s no doubt they’ve made us grow closer and appreciate each other so much more. If anything, they’ve just made our marriage stronger. We’ll bounce back from this one like we have all our others. The “D” word stomach pit has begun to shrink, as I’ve had time to digest the news. Just when I thought 2014 was beyond nuts [moving to Florida, getting a new dog, moving back to NC, a new house, getting pregnant], it looks like 2015 is going to be equally insane [having a baby unpacking the new house with a newborn, Mitchell turning two, two working parents, and now a deployment thrown in the mix]. It seems we are adding a new family member with every homecoming… And this time Julia will be WALKING to welcome home her Daddy. Life sure goes fast and moments like homecoming are the ones that make the hard times worth it and the good ones that much sweeter. We don’t do normal or boring around here 😉