As we all know, in the military, separations are pretty common. Outsiders tend to think in terms of deployments to Iraq, but our spouses deploy to other areas, too. Plus, they're frequently away due to training and TDY assignments. Sometimes, the bottom line for us is simply this - gone is gone.
If the house floods, or your daughter has her first recital or you have to pack the house up all by yourself, it doesn't really matter where your spouse is. The fact is they're not there to help, or share in a special moment with the family. It's not that we're damsels-in-distress and can't handle a separation, or even a tough spot. We can, and do. Pretty darn well, too. It's just that we know gone is gone, and we're accustomed to everything that goes along with our spouses coming and going so often.
So, imagine my surprise when my husband morphed into a civilian recently. I love civilians, but hey - when you're in the military, you aren't a civilian, and you can't play one on TV. I don't care if you did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!
It all started when....
....we were at a Christmas party and someone asked my husband if he travels a lot in his new assignment. He answered, "No, not really."
I sat back and did the math. We've been here six months and he's been TDY five times, once out of country. Don't know about you, but that seems like a lot to me, even if the trips were not for long stretches at a time, and even if most of the travel was inside the United States. Which, as it turns out, was the problem.
I didn't say anything during the conversation, but later I challenged him on this point.
You actually have been traveling quite a bit.
Yes, you have. You've been here, here (twice), here and here in only six months.
Yeah, but a lot of the guys travel out of the country all the time, and for longer stretches than me.
Doesn't matter, so far, you're averaging travel about once a month. To most people, that's "a lot."
All that "gone is gone" stuff flew right out the window and suddenly I find that the rules have changed. "Gone" only means gone if it's a deployment, or overseas travel or for long stretches at a time. "A lot" only means a lot under the same circumstances. Okay, I can grow and adapt to new rules. At least I think I can. But I'm having a much harder time adapting to my military husband's new civilian mindset. Wonder if he's practicing for those retirement years? Yikes!
I've come up with a new rule myself - no Holiday Inn Express stays. Otherwise, my husband may come home speaking in an Australian accent, wearing khaki shorts and claiming he can wrestle crocodiles. Or maybe he'll come home, head to an Air Force Base and attempt to fly a stealth bomber. Scary stuff.
It's come to this....