Deployment: the word that every spouse and significant other shutters at, but still knows it is his or her duty and we support them 110%. The days that seem to go by far to quickly prior to their leave date, the training before hand that either takes them away for long periods of time or allows them to come home when we are already tucked away in bed. Anxiety levels, stress levels at all time highs.
And then the day comes of leaving. Checking his list twice over. Setting aside items to be immediately mailed out to lessen the amount taken with and/or because there just is not enough room to pack it. Drive him to the site that has been planned for families to see their loved off. Kiss, hug, cry, kiss some more, hold hands while squeezing the life out of it hoping that closeness and feeling will be permanently embedded in your body. Wait until that absolute last call before hugging and kissing again. Watch the bus or vehicle leave out of sight before you mosey on back to a never pausing life.
Somehow make it back home, but little recollection of how you managed to get there. Open the front door...... Silence.... Emptiness.... The child or children sad at first and then they kick into normal everyday play. Mommy going to the bed and seeing where he was laying down, making that side of the bed is not an option at this point. Yes, I have left his side of the bed unmade for several months with his hoodie and a large teddy bear that he bought me there. No that doesn't mean the blankets were dirty. that is what a shower before bed is for. :P
Next day and the days to follow are all about making the time pass as quickly as possible. This can be an easy task with little ones involved in activities. If there are no little ones this task can sometimes be a challenge finding things to do on your own and with friends that does not involve curling up in bed with a pint of your favorite ice cream.
I have had it both ways. On my own while little man was visiting friends or family and having him home with a million things to do in relation to his sports, school, and other activities. I prefer having him home. It kept my mind elsewhere and I didn't start on a million different projects/updates for our home. There were a few must do's though. As it happens to be, any time he leaves SOMETHING goes terribly wrong within the house.
This last deployment the dishwasher went haywire and began leaking (more than normal) throughout the kitchen, I had to replace that. Then the master bath's sink decided that our house needed an indoor pool in the middle of night. After a couple hours of clean up, tearing out carpet matting from our bedroom and setting up heaters to dry the foundation and carpet I was at my wits end. Let's just say coffee was a must that morning at work for this pregnant lady.
Murphy's Law Does His Work in ALL DEPLOYMENTS.
Phone calls, snail mail, webcams, emails, texts (yes texts on certain deployments with international plans). Your phone is always on the loudest it can be on and attached to your hip all times (except maybe the shower and even then it is still within an arms reach away). If for whatever reason you have a moment of forgetfulness and walk into another room without it, that is when he calls...
You check the phone no more than 5 minutes later and see you MISSED a call!!!!!!! REALLY????? Yep, it happens to each of us, and then we are looking at our phone for the rest of the day/night hoping he gets the chance to call back. Then once that call does come through it is no surprise that only half of the conversation is truly understood but at least the most important part does, and that is how much you love and miss each other (even if you are fuming mad that the satellites decided to take a dump during the time you actually get to hear his voice).
(My love from his last deployment)
Mail and care packages are wonderful to send. Little goodies, surprise letters and cards. Pouring your undying love out for him in a letter always feels so much better than trying to do so in an email. :) And is a pleasant item to receive that is personal that he can carry around with him every where he goes and re-read it as he pleases. I still carry a certain letter that he wrote me when he was deployed 2 years back. Every now and then I pull it out and it still brings the biggest shit-eating-grin/smile to my face :)))
Then after months of independence/having to keep things in line on your own comes the time that we have been longing for. They're coming home! You've thought about this day, you've dreamed about this day, you've literally been counting down the days from a certain point and crossing off your calendar to the "possible arrival date" (because nothing is ever certain in any branch). You've gone out and gotten your hair done, nails done, picked out something to wear, and even shaved your legs!
The house is spotless except maybe whatever you decided to make as the meal for his arrival. (BTW a crockpot works wonders for late night homecomings!!!) You get to the arrival area and twiddle your thumbs, make small talk amongst other wives and significant others and families, and your heart starts pounding. Do I look ok, will he recognize me? (This was my biggest fear because he left with a not so noticeable baby bulge and was coming home to a BABY BUMP). You're antsy, you're nervous, he steps off that bus (and hopefully you can see him, mine snuck up behind me and scared the crap out of me) and he's in your arms and life is finally right back where you left it x amount months prior..........
Or so you thought it was where you left it. Do not and I repeat do not think everything goes right back to "normal". That old normal does not exist, there is a new normal to be created and worked at together in the midst of the honeymoon phase of him being home. Both of you have grown in ways together as well as individuals during this time apart. Your love for each other is still there and hopefully stronger than ever. But there are adjustments to be made. You are not the only adult under that roof now. You will have to give up some of the things that you were doing all on your own. Your partner will have to step up to do some of those things (AND NOTE: it may not be in the same manner that you were doing so, THAT'S OK!!!!! The end result is still the same, the baby's diaper was changed, the dishes are clean etc....)
This was my struggle. Him stepping in to do things, me asking what he thinks he's doing and so on. Until he literally threw it in my face one night about how I am not the only one here anymore, that he is capable of taking the load off of me just fine and that I needed to sit the hell down and relax. Yep, I was taken aback, and gave a YES SIR after biting my tongue. Hahahaha. Know there are many wives out there for an ear to listen and can give advice if that is what you're seeking. If nothing seems to work, Chaplain's are absolutely amazing people with wonderful insight and counselors have great advice and activities to do as a couple.
We recently attended a stronger marriage/couples course on base with his unit. It was amazing how different we are yet at the same time how much we knew each others "fighting/argument techniques". The class is beyond recommended to any couple no matter how long you have been together. It was full of helpful information, fun, entertaining and just all around a great experience. Look into your bases spousal activities and family friendly functions!
We are labeled Survivors of Deployments as well, Veteran's of keeping the home-front under as best control as we possibly could. Because let's just be honest, there were several things that came up out of our control that we decided to just place on the "honey-do-list" for him to do sometime after he gets home. (Yes, I'm guilty as charged for this as well).
What are some of the things that have gone wrong during the deployments or exercises you have been through? What type of goodies do you like sending out to him/her and what do they ask for most? What do you do during the time they're gone? If you have kids how do you help them through it? How do you celebrate the homecoming (besides that... :p)?