A Military Dad's Deployment Doesn't Last Forever -- It Just Feels That Way

Navy shipThe top 10 list of what makes deployments difficult on the spouse is obvious and can be summed up by just saying, “Doing everything, every day, all day.”

But there are more subtle elements that don’t make the list. As we near the end of our deployment separation, I decided to compile a list of some of the less obvious bullet points. It might help you, dear readers who have at-home spouses, to put your own crazy days into perspective.

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When I start to lose my patience with the kids (not a frequent occurrence, thankfully), I can’t walk away and let my spouse take over for a few minutes. Think about it. You have to be the good cop (parent), all day, every day. It can be exhausting.

The last-minute doctor’s appointment? Parent/teacher conferences or IEP meetings at school? Surgeries and ER visits? They all have to be handled by the military spouse at home. Sure, people genuinely offer to help “if anything ever comes up,” but it’s not easy to ask for that help, especially when the need occurs late at night or very early in the morning.

One of the kids gets sick in the middle of the night, whether it’s a big mess all over the bed, floor, and child, or the need for an urgent nebulizer treatment, there’s no second set of hands to change the child’s clothes or set up the machine while the other tackles the mess or comforts the child.

Kids want to talk to their parents. They want to share exciting parts of their lives, big and small, whenever the thoughts occur to them. So, even a work-at-home military spouse who thought it was down time, all the kids otherwise occupied, has to stop what she is doing, smile, and listen to her kids, losing her train of thought, again and again and again. It’s the parenting that is the most important job, it takes priority over everything, but it’s the other job that pays the bills. Getting back on track can be a challenge.

Potty training. Use your imagination. I don’t think I need to elaborate.

Mother’s Day? It helps to have your husband around to plan something. It’s markedly less fun when you have to do it yourself. For my celebration on Sunday, I’ve asked the boys to clean up the basement and I’ll be getting us take-out for dinner and we’ll use paper plates.

This list is by no means complete, but it will give you something to think about, to help you put things into perspective when you feel like you are having a chaotic day and feel like you are losing your mind.

I, myself, often pause to put things into perspective. When I start to feel overwhelmed or even a little sorry for myself, I force myself to stop and remember that there are a lot bigger problems, not just in the world, but right in my own neighborhood, than what I am dealing with.

As we make our way through the next 11 weeks, I’ll take a breath and remember that I won’t be doing it alone for much longer; it only feels that way.

Are you a military mom? How do you get through a deployment?


About the Author: Erin Henderschedt is the Navy wife and mother of four behind the Deployment Diatribes and Been There, Done That Mom. You can "like" her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, @BTDTMom.

 

Image via US Navy/Flickr

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