Many Changes for a Military Mom

Love & Sex 10

Flickr photo by Doortoriver
This week my husband starts a new job. He'll be taking an extended military leave from his airline job. For two months, he has temporary active orders with a reserve unit about two hours from our home.
When he pitched me the idea, it made sense. And in the long run, it really does.
But then last week I realized that this change is much more complicated than it initially sounded.
Isn't that always the case?

I don't fault him for not thinking about how hard it'd be for me. And I've grown quite used to jobs, even the military, which is supposed to be "family-friendly" -- not considering how the change, deployment, or TDY (Tour of Duty) affects me and my children.
My active duty friends often experience longer TDYs and deployments, but as a Guard or Reserve wife, you're often completely disconnected from any type of support system -- a home base, friends with similar situations, or any type of helpful services you could get from being on or near a base.
And non-military families. Forget it.
So really, I should be used to this by now.
But every time a change comes, it punches me right between the eyeballs and I find it harder and harder to get up.

Ironically, his now regular Monday through Friday job (no weekends FTW!) will be more difficult that the airline and National Guard schedule he's on now. Since the drive is two hours, there's just no way he'll be coming back home every night, or even every other night.
First of all, that's just nuts. And second, the man who flies everywhere can't drive more than an hour without sounding like my 3-year-old in the backseat asking, "Are we there yet?"

And even if he did come home, he wouldn't get there until after bedtime anyway, which is when I could really use the respite. I actually don't mind the quiet nights alone after the kids are in bed and truth be told, I really like sleeping alone.

So basically, he'll be gone the entire week, every week, for two months, which based on his current schedule is much different than it is now, with at least half the month, if not more, home with us.
And in being gone the entire week every week, that means, aside from all the other solo parenting duties, I'll be solely responsible for packing all the kids in the car every morning and afternoon for drop-off and pick-up. That's a whole lot of kid packing.
It's the part of my day that I hate the most. HATE.
I realize that this is a pretty typical schedule for many SAHMs and WAHMs. But usually there's the light at the end of their day in the form of another two hands to kid wrangle and another two legs for them to climb on.
And for me, while I've done the daily drop-off and pick-up for a few (sometimes many more) days in a row, there was always the knowledge that it'd end, usually within a day or two, and so the prospect of having to do that wasn't such a big deal. The finish line was always in sight.
But now things are changing. Again. I'll be more of a Sometimes Single Mom than I have been in a really long time.
In some ways, it'll be easier. None of the come and go. The change in the routine. The fights about how to do things. He won't be home long enough for that.
But part of me really likes the way things are right now. Not necessarily because they're easier. But because it's what I know. And I'm good at it.



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nonmember avatar forgotten

Coming from a single mom perspective, I can honestly say that I feel your pain. Its not any easier when you know that there really won't be anyone else there to pick up the slack even when you do get home. Ever.
The only advice I can offer is to start a routine that makes everything easier on all of you and follow it to the letter. You really will find things to be easier if you can work it into part of your daily routine. I am glad for you that it is only temporary. I know you're tough so you'll be able to handle it and in a couple of months we'll get to read a post about how you survived and all the tips you learned along the way. Good luck and hang in there. If you need suggestions, just drop me an email and I'll be glad to help. :-)

nonmember avatar Jerri Ann

I bow down to you.  My husband knew early on that leaving me to my own devices, out kids may not make it.  Just kidding.  But, really, he day he worked late and returned home to find me on the sofa, between two kids, one about 12 months, the othe 18 months older than that....with a tub of chocolate cake icing and a spoon, me a bite, one kid a bite, another kid a bite, me two bites........he knew he had to be here or else., hehehe

nonmember avatar Esther

I'm right there with you.  I hate packing the kids in the car- in and out, in and out. buckle, go to the other side, buckle.  Get there, unbuckle, argue about which door they're coming out of, make sure they don't hit the car next to them etc...

My DH doesn't like me saying I'm a  "sometimes single mom" but I'm glad you're blogging here.  Feels good to know there's more of us out there going through the same thing.  Since the beginning of this year I have 4 or 5 days straight on my own with him here on weekend (except every few months when he has to work a weekend too).  This arrangement will continue at least through the summer and possibly after that.

I know I'm not the first person or the last to go through this, nor do I have it as rough as many (in particular I think of moms whose husbands are deployed abroad etc..) but we all need extra support and a break sometimes.

Forgotten makes a good point.  The days when I have the strictest routines are the easiest ones to get through.

nonmember avatar sam_tempting

I do pick up and drop off ALL. THE. TIME. And I dread it every single day. It's worse right now because my husband is on nights (still) and I do everything, everyday. The only reprieve I have right now is he makes dinner and when I get home, he's heading out the door while I am unloading the kids and getting them situated to eat.

It makes for a LONG day, but if anyone can do it - you can!

nonmember avatar Liz

Man, I hear you on the lack of support from a reservist perspective. My non military friends don't get the situation, and I almost feel like an imposter with "real" military families because we're not completely "in."

When my husband took year long active orders in 2008, it made sense for us. It really really really did. But. It was... it was just... yeah. It was hard in a way I can't really describe, just being a part of two seperate worlds, where it's hard enough to make it work when you're squarely in one.


nonmember avatar JCF

Oh, I so feel your pain on this one.  My husband is in a rigorous graduate program at the moment, and while he is home to sleep, he is quite frequently gone before the kids are up in the morning until after they're in bed at night.  Those last couple of hours before bedtime are so freaking hard, and I long for this summer, when all he'll have is a 40 hour a week job and we'll have a new baby.  I laugh now when I think about how stressed we were when we had a regular 9-5 job and our first baby was born.  It seemed so hard to balance.  Now it seems like a walk in the park.

nonmember avatar Kim

I just stumbled upon your blog and its great to find you.  I had a blog until a few months ago called The Situationally Single Mom.  My husband is a police officer and an Army Reservist.  We have done two, one year long deployments and his work and reserve schedule do make him unavailable to the family.  So I manage my job, our 4 kids and the house while he's away.  And I totally agree with you.  Packing the kids up to go anywhere is the worst.  What should be a few minutes turns into 30 and we are always late for everything.

I'll be sure to come back and keep reading!

nonmember avatar angie

You speak my langauge. The difference is my DH and i are both active duty.....and it is the hardest thing. So far he has been gone twice for extended peroids..and right now works 2 on 2 off...the military is far from a family friendly enviroment......i am glad i am not the out there!!

nonmember avatar karla

pull up your big girl pants!

nonmember avatar Mom of 3

Suck it up cupcake. My daughter is an active duty solder, single (divorced) mother. She has no one to help with the pre-bed activities, or turn to for solace at the end of a tough day, or any of the other things you're whining about on a temporary basis. And when she has to deploy and leave her daughter on the other coast, concerns don't go away for annual check-ups, daycare, mortgage payments, home maintenance, etc.
And yes, I know how it goes as I "retired" from the Navy as a wife and mother after 20 years.
All I can say is "been there, done that," and you will survive. As long as you get over your pity party and as my other daughter would tell you: "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it."

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