We are one month out from deployment now and it is starting to sink in. I am feeling more at peace with it and ready to just have it happen so we can get it over with!
Dave was trying to do inventory on his “Gucci gear” — all the stuff he’s got to bring along for his team, much of which they will likely never use — but it’s hard to get much work done with this motley crew around. I don’t think he minded too much.
The best dress-up box in the world!
I am keeping in mind that this is a very ‘easy’ deployment — safe, only 6 months, and we had plenty of advance warning. (Dave’s current unit is accustomed to much more dangerous work, and I think they’re all almost sheepish about how easy this deployment is going to be.) So I have nothing to complain about! But I still think life with three young kids is easier when you have a partner to help get them all into bed every night.
Dave’s deploying with a great group of guys-and-one-woman, which is also something to be thankful for. Tonight, the Senior Chief threw a party at his house for the deployment crew and their families. Those kinds of gatherings are worth their weight in gold, because as a military spouse, the whole deployment thing can get pretty abstract if you don’t keep connecting it to all the faces and the mission and all that.
Chief hired a taco truck to keep us all well-fed (best party-food idea ever), the Kegerator was ice-cold and his wife had mai tais on tap. That gets the conversation flowing pretty well.
“MA’AM!” one of the enlisted guys called out as I walked over (I know their names, but I’m not going to use them here). “We love your husband. WE LOVE YOUR HUSBAND!”
“He’s our all-star in Ultimate,” someone else explained. I had to laugh. In Dave’s unit, they all do PT early in the morning before work. One day a week, instead of running, they play Ultimate Frisbee.
“You should have seen him,” the female on the team piped up. “There’s this one officer who pisses us off sometimes and LT [Dave] totally body-checked him during Ultimate.”
“Yeah!” the first guy said. “The guy looked all surprised and LT was like, ‘What? You got a problem with that?’”
This didn’t sound like my usual Dave, but judging by the way he turned a little red, I could tell they weren’t lying.
“He’s the best on our team and he never gets hurt like all the other old dudes. No offense, ma’am.” (For the record, we are 35.)
I burst out laughing. “Are you kidding me? He comes home every night after you guys play Frisbee and he sits on the couch and ices, like, three separate places and moans and groans about how sore he is!”
“No!” they cried. “No! What else you got? We need the scoop on LT.”
Ooh, that was fun. I had to spill the beans on Dave’s phobia of snakes.
“Yes!” one of the guys cried. “There are so many ways we can WORK with that.”
The wild brainstorming began. “Snake in his bed!” one of the guys said.
“Snake in his boots!”
Seeing my look of concern: “Rubber snake, ma’am.”
I laughed. “You’ll have to send me a picture.”
“I can do better than that,” one of the intel guys said. “I can put a Go-Pro on the rubber snake.”
So we had a good time, watching each other’s kids play, eating and drinking, swapping stories. I couldn’t help but admire the Chief’s dog — an unusual-looking, beautiful, leggy dog with gorgeous gray-and-white markings, golden eyes, and a curled tail. My sole, and very nerdy, party trick — having worked in animal hospitals and a humane society for years through high school and college – is guessing dog breeds (and I got to pull that one out, because the host also had a 9-week-old puppy that I guessed right off was a smooth-coat St. Bernard, and they are not as identifiable as puppies as you might think. I walked in, saw that puppy and thought, Well, a little gift for me).
But I couldn’t pinpoint this striking, unusual dog. (She looked like a cross between a Tibetan mastiff and a saluki, if that means anything to anyone!) Turns out, Chief had found her as a starving 4-week-old puppy, curled up asleep in a machine-gun nest in Afghanistan. She had a broken foot that was turned out oddly to the side. Chief is crazy about dogs (they have 3 others, including the St. Bernard puppy), so for months he snuck her along in his vehicle and fed her mashed-up turkey burgers and oatmeal. When he redeployed (came home from) Afghanistan, he put her in a shelter in Kabul with instructions to care for her until he could send for her, and with the help of a rescue organization they raised the money to have her brought back to live with him. Her foot has healed perfectly, and her name is Isa. She’s the sweetest, calmest, most affectionate dog, and she let my toddler pet her on the nose and feel her silky ears, and I hope she has a good long life with her very devoted owner.
And I hope these friendly, cheerful, warm, and kind people have a good deployment when they leave a month from now, and I hope it goes by quickly for all of us, because they have a lot of people who will be waiting eagerly for them to get home.
“Give him a hard time for me,” I called as we left, squeezing Dave’s arm.
“Halloween is going to be epic,” one of the guys promised.
Inspired to write a little note to send off with Daddy when he goes
We’re past that but I remember the days, and the dress ups. Good luck.
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Thank you, Caroline!! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this journey. Blessings to your family and tremendous gratitude to your husband.
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Thanks, Julie — I really appreciate your comment!
You sound really at peace. That’s a great way to approach deployment (but it can be easier said than done!). I’m sure it helps to know that your husband will be working with great guys down range and will be out of harms way.
I feel like I’m in a much better place emotionally during this deployment than I was during my husband’s previous one. What I’ve struggled with, however, is the length! This deployment is “only” 9 months compared to the 12 monther last time, but it feels so much longer, time is moving so much slower. If you find that your six months of solo parenting feels long, be easy on yourself; it’s normal.
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Amy, I don’t know how you do it!! Compared to you guys, I’m on easy street. Why do you think the 9 months feels longer this time? Do you think every deployment feels longer than the last? Let’s hope not, right??!
I think this deployment feels longer for me because I went into it thinking how short it would be. Sure, it’s shorter, but 9 months is still a long time! Plus, I was working full time during the first one. Now I’m off for the summer and there just isn’t that much to do. On the upside, we are almost halfway! Huzzah!
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As I previously said, I’m past deployments (unless my 65+ husband reups) but I wish I had written more when I lived through them. Working and just keeping myself and the kids on an even keel was all I could manage. I admire those who can write while in the middle of the emotional challenge, and I can’t help but wonder how the writing done at the time of the experience differs from the writing done after the fact. Perhaps it’s similar to trying to write while on a trip vs capturing the experience later? Thoughts?
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Caroline, I completely agree — writing while in the thick of an experience has got to be different than writing about it later. That’s part of why I wanted to keep an occasional journal of the experience this time. I think it’s more helpful for other wives to read when they’re in the thick of it, too, rather than saying after the fact, “Oh yeah, we did a deployment too, but we got through it.” You necessarily cut out all the grumpy or tired or desperate moments (hopefully we won’t have too many of those, heh) when you’re talking about something you already got through — but if someone can read your experience as you recorded it at the time, there’s more of a level playing field with their own, unfolding experience.
At least, that’s my hope. I do think a sort of self-protective/ family-protective persona can come into play when you’re writing about deployment, which might affect the honesty of the posts. And if you’re writing for the public, you might fret that it sounds like you’re complaining (and no military spouse, particularly one who’s had a pretty easy time like me, EVER wants to sound like she is complaining). So, I’m interested in thinking about the ways we put on a brave face (or don’t), the way we censor or encourage ourselves as we write about deployment in real-time.