Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From both sides of the fence.....

When I was active duty I never felt any sympathy for the wives that were left behind while their husbands deployed. As a wife now I still do not feel sorry for them. However, now I do have some empathy. I see just what it is like to be the one left at home to take care of everything while keeping my sanity and putting on the happy face every day.
I was a single parent while active duty so I already knew what it would be like to take care of home and family alone. What I didn't expect was all the additional duties that would be before me simply due to being married.
As a single parent I didn't have to worry about any other adult, everything was on my terms. I was able to do everything from setting bedtimes to ordering the cable package in accordance to what I wanted and how it fit into my schedule. These are the types of things that I no longer decide alone, I am on a team now and we make team decisions.
I now have to deal with a daughter that cries for daddy when she is upset and a son who is not getting the male influence he needs. Before these were not issues, as I was the one and only parent.
When I deployed and had to leave my oldest son I had a hard time dealing with the separation. So I know what it is like for my husband, I may not understand the stresses of the particular job he is doing, but I do understand just how hard it is to be away. Over time he is coming to understand how hard this job is for me. How not having him here affects our lives. For me it is a lot of little things, not nearly the big huge absence he feels right now.
So what do I do to help him? I send packages, notes, cards, and emails. I make sure that he feels loved from miles and miles away. After all, isn't that what we all really want anyhow??

Monday, July 4, 2011

Improving our marriage by revealing everything

This deployment has been a lifesaver to my marriage. We had gotten to the 'make or break' point. I had a feeling that during this deployment one or both of us could easily decide that this marriage was not what we wanted. But one little thing helped turn everything around; and I admit it was not my doing.
My wonderful husband came to the conclusion that for us to truly understand where the other was coming from that we had to reveal all those demons that haunted us. I am not sure if he read that in a book or came up with it on his own. Either way, this has helped us understand each other so much better.
I think it is easier to do while he is deployed for a few reasons. As he revealed this demons to me I had the opportunity to absorb and accept the things he told me without his seeing the sadness or anger on my face. It is always hard to open up so completely to someone and doing it without seeing the other persons face makes it much easier. I know it was easier to reveal my demons to him without seeing his face.
Now, here I must mention that I am by no means a professional. I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. I just know what has worked within my marriage.
I revealed secrets to him that I had never told another soul, as he did me. These were the big things. The type of things that haunt your mind and can send you down a spiral of self destruction. The kinds of things that effect every decision you make and can cause you to lose sleep. This new knowledge is wonderful because now we have a much deeper understanding of each other. Why each of us makes certain decisions about the kids. What drives us to make some decisions for ourselves. Now I know in what aspects of his life he needs the most support, as he does me.
I had always thought that there was no reason to share these things with him because they couldn't possible improve our relationship. I didn't want him to view me any different and I am sure he had the same reservations, but that was not the case. I know I do not see him any different in my eyes, if anything I see him in a better light because now I see just how strong and resilient he is. I am a very lucky woman.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missing Daddy

My kids missing Daddy is the biggest concern we had when preparing for this deployment. This deployment is different than the previous ones because my husband is on the ground in Afghanistan, all the previous deployments found one of us on board an aircraft carrier. Since we didn't know exactly what the communication situation would be while he was away we had to be sure that there would be ways for our youngest (ages 4 and 1) to keep Daddy close.
Before my husband deployed he took time to read some of their favorite books on DVD. We set up the camcorder and he read the book and talked about it on camera. This is great because anytime our kids want to see Daddy I can pop in the DVD and he can 'read' them a book. When I was deployed on the USS Roosevelt this was available through the public relations department. When my husband last deployed on the USS Eisenhower they did not offer this program so we took it as a lesson learned and planned ahead this time around.
There are also little things I have done to help the kids cope with Daddy being gone. To ensure that they do not think he has left forever I have kept a towel on his towel rack, his coat still hangs by the front door, his shoes are still out, and his coffee cup still sits by the coffee maker. His toothbrush is even there waiting for his return. My son (age 1) will point to these things and ask 'Daddy?" It is nice to know he knows these things are Daddy's.
They have done very well with this deployment so far. We are currently about halfway done with this deployment and they seem to be adjusting well. We are very thankful to have Skype this time around. My husband took my laptop with him and has Internet in his bunk room so we can talk often. It is expensive to have his Internet service, but it has proven to be well worth the cost.  We have even 'had dinner' with Daddy.
Young kids have such short term memories that it is important to provide constant reminders that Daddy (or Mommy) will be back. It is also important for them to see their parent often, in pictures, video, or online. My daughter sleeps with a picture of her and her Daddy every night. There are also other ways to keep them remembering Daddy other than in a visual sense. Every once in a while I will spray his cologne around the house while they are sleeping. I have no idea if this has any effect on them, but I know it helps me feel better and I like to think that it will keep that scent alive for them.
It's the little things that they notice. As the spouse left home I need to do everything I can to keep their memories alive; to help ensure a smooth transition when Daddy returns. Keeping their memories alive is one way to do that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So much free time and so little to fill it with.

One of the hardest things about having my husband deployed is filling all the free time that would have been spent with him. This is especially hard on the kids. My husband would often take them out hiking and take them to the park.
To help fill their time I enroll them in classes. Tae Kwon Do and swim for the oldest boy this summer, Pom Poms and swim for the daughter. And this is where I have to say a big 'Thanks' to the YMCA. They have a fantastic program for the families of deployed military members. The family of a deployed soldier/sailor/coastie/airman can get a free membership at the Y for the deployment period. There are catches. The membership must be used at least 8 times a month (not a problem for our clan) and it is not avaliable at all YMCA locations.Contact Military OneSource at militaryonesource.com or 800-342-9647 to confirm eligibility and work through the process. Some YMCA's will even give the family free kid care or towel service. That all depends on the location, so don't be afraid to shop around.
This membership at the Y has been a God send to us. There are low priced classes for the kids to take; swimming, karate, pom poms, ballet, etc. Plus, while they are at class I can go workout. Zumba, Body Combat, Kickboxing, and Step aerobics are some examples of what is offered. Now I can work on getting off the weight I have been trying to ignore since having my last baby.
We have been enjoying our membership at the Y so much, in fact, that we intend to keep it even after my husband returns from Afghanistan.