Matt and I have experienced two extensive deployments together; the first as newlyweds and now, as parents to four. It is not lost on me that our deployment “experience”, so to speak, is not as substantial as other military families. But the sacrifice and hard are absolutely the same.
Around the two month mark of each deployment it really hits you just how long 9-12 months is.
It’s the two month mark where you start to establish a routine and settle.
It’s the two month mark where your kids just miss their dad and you miss your best friend. It’s that two month mark where it’s really easy to setup camp in resentment. You know, where you take another sick kid to the doctor while your spouse messages you a scenic view from a European town square (ask me how I know!)
Twelve years ago it was a jar of spaghetti sauce that I just couldn’t open that made the tears come. Today? When the diaper pail broke as I was putting a diaper in it. I’m not going to pretend like this deployment is easy; because it is anything but. And while the tears today happened because of the diaper pail, it really wasn’t about the diaper pail, the same way that twelve years ago they weren’t about a jar of spaghetti sauce.
Deployments are hard. For us here at home. For the family across the country that want to help, but geographically just can’t. For the Soldier abroad.
But here is what I do know. Deployments are even harder if you make camp resentment your home base. They are harder if you don’t allow the tears to come when the diaper pail (randomly) breaks. They are harder if you don’t take breaks before you need them and if you don’t ask for help before you need it.
My best advice? Make the pointed effort to be glad that your spouse is experiencing an exciting thing. Sure, it sucks to miss out on it, but if your husband is like mine, he would trade fixing a diaper pail with his scenic square view anyday, anytime. You’re going to spend sometime in camp resentment, sure, but make it a quick visit. Remember, misery loves company.
Cry when you need to. Let your kids see you cry. Cry with them. Show them that it’s ok to not be ok and to show emotion. It’s hard guys! And that’s ok. I have had so many amazing conversations with my crew in these past two months. So many learning opportunities.
Hire a babysitter. Enroll in daycare. Get yourself a village. You can do anything, but you simply cannot do everything. (Read that again). And you shouldn’t have to. You have to prioritize your sanity if you have ANY chance of moving beyond survival mode. Have something that is for you only.
Here’s to being just over two months in to this crazy rotation. It feels like it’s been a whole lot longer than it has been. We got some time to go over here, and we will all be ok. But I absolutely know that this crazy train stays on the tracks a heck of a lot better when Matt is here helping me co-pilot.