Deployment…one of the toughest words a military spouse can hear.
So many emotions come up when I hear that word: loneliness, stress, loss, fear, sadness, exhaustion…
I pride myself on typically being an uplifting and positive person. However, this can be a struggle at times when I’m faced with the extremely difficult task of staying on the home front with kids during a longer than usual deployment. Not to mention, I’m a Submariner wife. This means we have little to no communication with our sailor the entire underway (deployment.) Honestly, the lack of communication is the toughest part! It’s not uncommon to go months-yes months! without even hearing a word from him! Because of this, I have to make some pretty tough decisions sometimes.
But, we get by. The kids and I lean on each other for strength and we rely on our faith to get us through it.
I’ve always found the first month and the last month to be the most difficult-no matter how long the deployment is.
This deployment was no different.
I’ll start with the beginning…
I kept a journal in the beginning and here are a few of the things I wrote down:
Put on a brave face…for my kids. For my family. Smile. Don’t let them see how worn out you are. Don’t let them know you’re hurting inside.
There’s so much pressure on me to be the seasoned Navy Wife. You know…the one who’s been through so many deployments that I should have it all together by now. Let me tell you this…it’s never easy. Each night I tuck my kids into bed and my husband isn’t home with us I’m reminded how exhausting this gig of Navy Wife really is.
I haven’t spoken to or even heard from my husband in 27 days…but who’s counting? Not this “experienced” military wife that’s for sure!
Another holiday without him…next up…Christmas alone…
Ladybug was in tears tonight…missing daddy. We just laid in bed, held each other and cried…nights like this are the hardest. It breaks my heart to see my kids’ heart broken.
Just reading those words, brings back a flood of emotions. I have fresh tears in my eyes as I remember writing them.
But, even worse, I remember feeling them with all of my heart.
Once we made it past the initial hurdle of the first month of deployment, we found our groove. Our routine. Our “new way of doing things without daddy.”
All was good.
We were happy.
The tears didn’t come anymore.
We felt strong.
Even with daddy being gone for all of the major holidays this time, we sailed through deployment with a positive attitude. We kept reminding ourselves that this was a special deployment because it was daddy’s LAST DEPLOYMENT! We just had to stay strong a little bit longer!
Well, the projects came…the ones I couldn’t put off any longer. I mean, I guess my hubby wasn’t going to recaulk the tub…so I better get on it! Appliances needed to be fixed (some replaced.) The saying is…things won’t break unless it’s deployment! ha. That is so true!
Being a military spouse, you learn so much about yourself…
especially through a deployment.
I’ve grown in ways I never would’ve thought possible. I’ve overcome obstacles I never would’ve imagined even being faced with let alone conquering them. So, along with the deployment feelings of loneliness, stress, loss, fear come the feelings of accomplishment, growth, change, strength, pride…
Like I said, during this deployment, I repaired our washer and dryer, recaulked the bathtub, replaced the refrigerator, trimmed hedges, attended parent-teacher conferences, tried to coach both kids in basketball, played Elf on the Shelf, made Halloween costumes, prepared Thanksgiving dinner, made 2 flights from Hawaii to the mainland alone with the kids, helped with family heritage projects for school, hung Christmas lights outside, made endless trips to the library, built a new office desk…I’m exhausted just thinking about it all! But, I’m very proud of myself too. I wasn’t always this strong.
I tell you what, each deployment, I can’t help but think of the person I was before I got into all of this “messy” military life. I was a small town girl who never imagined ever leaving the state of Nebraska. I always felt my heart pulling me towards the ocean but never in my wildest dreams thought this land-locked girl would ever actually live by the ocean. I was like Moana and the ocean just called me but I figured, it was nothing but a hopeless dream! Little did I know, I’d marry a Navy Sailor and always be living near the ocean. Best of all, living in Hawaii like Moana herself! I have to laugh at God in the irony of that!
But, more importantly, I’ve grown so much as a person.
I take on challenges.
I try new things.
I really do make each day an adventure like my blog says I do. I live my life and embrace each day…even when the day isn’t the most ideal and I’m stressed from solo-parenting for so long. The strong person I have become can look past that and get whatever needs to be done, done and have fun while doing it.
If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I would be spending a Friday night at home repairing a dryer or watching YouTube videos on how to recaulk a bathtub, I would’ve laughed in your face! ha-right! That’s what my husband is for. But, what happens when he’s not here to do those things? I have no choice but to figure it out for myself.
So, here’s where that feeling of pride comes into place. My kids get to see a mom who isn’t afraid to get dirty and try new things. They get to grow up learning alongside me. And, guess what?
Okay, so that was mid-deployement…ready for the grand finale?
As I said, deployment is hardest at the beginning and the end…
This one ended like a doozy. It was, by far, the toughest one yet. We did very well, up until the last 3 weeks. And, by we…I mean ME. I hit a rock. I hit a dead-end. I hit rock bottom. I was DONE. I was starting to feel depressed. I was feeling like it was hopeless. This momma was EXHAUSTED! I began my day with coffee and longed for bedtime in hopes that it would finally be the night I catch up on sleep. Well, that night never happened because MY bed turned into OUR bed because it was just so much easier during that exhausted state to just let everyone jump in a snuggle up rather than the whole “bedtime routine.” In fact…I’m still tired!
Eventually, I realized, what was missing was my faith.
I had started to lose faith. On the surface, it was still there. But, if I were to be completely transparent, I would say, I wasn’t fully trusting God with my stress anymore. I was starting to feel like a failure as a mom because I was so tired all of the time. My patience had been worn down to a sliver. I was a “monster mom.” I wrote about it here: Monster Mom Attacks: Rekindling the Relationship with My Son During a Stressful Deployment.
Once I realized I hadn’t been spending time with God like I had been diligent about before, I quickly made that change. I went back to adding a little Jesus with my eggs and coffee in the morning. It made a huge difference. I owe that for my strength to finish strong.
Now, my husband is back. It’s been a few days and we are in that transition period of trying to go back to “life when daddy is here again.” It definitely has its own challenges and emotions. I’ll share more about that in another post…once this rollercoaster slows down a bit!
I want to close with one last thing…
I just want to give a shout out to my kids.
I am so blessed with these two. They are sincerely best friends. Seeing them be so brave and so very strong throughout this deployment makes my mommy heart so proud. I thank God for keeping daddy safe and I thank these two for making this deployment so smooth. We lean on each other. And, at times, it feels I’m doing an awful lot of the leaning. As military kids, these two have had to experience life differently than many kids their age. They don’t let it keep them down. They grow. They excel. They impress me each and every day!
I know this post is longer than what I write. I appreciate you reading it through to the end… It’s been an emotional 9 months and I feel writing it all out helps me put it all into perspective.
I know I’m not the only military wife out there who experiences these challenges.
I applaud each and every one of you for your bravery, commitment and strength for all you do on the home front-no matter what branch of the military or what country your spouse serves.
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