Have you seen those signs in home décor stores that say, “Our Love is Deployment Strong” or “In this house, we do deployments”? I own a sign or two like those. I do not just own those signs because I think they are cute though. I walk that walk. Or rather, WE walk that walk. We are deployment strong. We are the family of an Army Reserve Soldier based out of Idaho. Because he is a reservist, we do not live on or near a base. This makes living in the military world a little bit different. It is rare to find someone near us who is experiencing the things we are. To add to the already lonely world of not living near other military families, we are fairly new transplants to a small town. Lonely meets lonelier.
Deployments are a hot mess. They have a way of making you feel crazy and chaotic! They can make you feel sad, strong, happy, guilty, weak, lonely, numb, scared, and anxious. Sometimes all at the same time! Pure chaos! I guess it is a good thing that chaos does not scare me.
We have a couple of deployments under our belt and more to come. The last one lasted 309 days. I assure you that I was not counting; at least not while he was gone. Only after he returned did I total the days. Those were some of the longest days of my life. My workload doubles the minute he leaves. I am responsible for not only my household duties but his as well. Then I have the added anguish of helping the kids through all of the emotions that the deployment brings. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
It can all feel so overwhelming at times, but I promise, I’ve got this.
When deployment hits a family, the people around them become very curious. They want to know where the soldier is going. They ask what the soldier will be doing and how long he or she be gone. They want to know how the kids feel about it. How I feel about it. And how they can help.
There are so many simple things that anyone can do to help a family going through a deployment, whether it’s lending an ear or a helping hand! I know this first one will sound silly but treat us the same way you did when the mister was here! What I crave most is normalcy. If you see me at the local grocery store or park, say hi! If you want to know how the mister is, go ahead and ask. Bonus points for an upbeat tone to your voice! Please do not ask where he is or what he is doing. OPSEC rules say I cannot tell you. I do not mind talking about him. I just do not want the deployment to define us.
And for the people who are the doers, the ones that want to jump right in and physically do things to help, I have suggestions for you too. I love these people. These are my people. I believe them when they tell me to call if I need anything. But will I call them? Probably not, unless you are the Mister’s good friend that lives just a couple of streets away – this poor guy jumped in during the last deployment to remove a dangling exhaust system, fix a broken fridge, and replace the end of an extension cord, just to name a few. I reserve the call for help for when I truly cannot figure it out on my own. And when I do make the call, it is usually someone close to us or a professional. It is not the doer’s fault that I will not call them for help. So, for these precious souls with hearts of gold, these next suggestions are for you:
Show up for a visit.
Call just to talk.
Drop off a pizza or some cookies and cream ice cream.
Do you feel like pulling a prank? I am SO in.
And last but certainly not least, could you please text me every Monday to remind me to take the garbage cans out?
That would be fantastic.