Dear Military Mom on your first deployment:
Oh mama, there really isn’t anything I can tell you to prepare for this adventure. It is hard. Simple as that.
There are days (hours, minutes) that are going to feel like forever. Dragging so slow you swear it’s been an hour and it’s only been 4 minutes. Groundhog days where you lose yourself in the day-to-day-ness of dishes, diapers, and duty.
You’ll miss your spouse so much you’ll feel it physically. You’ll begrudge any happy couple you see, only because it reminds you of what is missing right now.
There will be days that nothing goes right and you’ll wonder if it’s even worth it. Then you’ll get that call, hear their voice, and get the recharge you need to get through another few days or weeks until you get to hear that voice again.
Believe it or not, there may even be times when you don’t want them to call. It’s normal to feel that way. They are so starved for details of our days, yet can tell us very little, it’s a very one-sided conversation. After a really challenging day, the idea of relaying and reliving it again can be just too exhausting.
There will be the days that you are okay, but the kids are hot messes asking for daddy. Those are the days that rip your guts out. But you’ll get through those, too. Those are the moments that will toughen you up so you can set your pain aside to be the soft spot for your kids to land. You’ll be able to hold it together so they can fall apart.
There will be days when your non-military friends will remark on how fast the deployment is going and you’ll muster up the restraint to keep from punching them.
Then you’ll realize you’re halfway through. Maybe it isn’t so bad. As the calendar ticks down the days, the ache begins to lessen.
There will be really good days that will have only just a tinge of sadness because you couldn’t share it with your spouse.
There will be kick-butt days when you fix that bike, fix the car, or do whatever it is that you thought you couldn’t do. And you will feel that pride.
Those pride moments are powerful. As much as the recharging phone calls, these are the ones that carry you through when you want to just give up.
You’ll wipe the tears, you’ll chat with a dear friend, you’ll laugh, you’ll go to dinner, you’ll pull up your bootstraps, and you’ll keep moving. You’ll put one foot in front of the other. You’ll take one day at a time, one moment, one glass of spilled milk, one diaper change at a time. You’ll reach out if you need help. You’ll link arms with your fellow spouses and friends. You’ll make plans. You’ll workout. You’ll make goals. Even small ones like “keep the kids alive today”, and celebrate your achievements.
You may not realize it now, but the you that starts this deployment will not be the same person finishing it.
You will be better.