Rewriting My Deployment Mantra


When my husband was deployed (pick a time), I found myself returning time and again to a couple mantras.

One, in relation to my daily list of things to do, remains popular here, "I only have two hands and 24 hours."

But, the one that brought me comfort most? Five words: "Next year at this time [insert what will be easier, more fun, less stressful, more worth remembering, etc. here].

Except this time? It didn't turn out that way at all and I'm betting I'm not alone in that.

Things since my husband have returned home have been decidedly less idyllic than I would have ever dreamed. We were so relieved when he arrived home in one piece and behaving more or less like we remembered him. Stubborn? Check. Opinionated? Check. Hard worker? Check.

Within a week of his homecoming, we had added a new person to our family via our international adoption of a five-year-old. One week after arriving home from Ethiopia, our athletic and active middle daughter broke her leg. Not a month later and Father's Day where what I dreaded would happen overseas happened in our own backyard. And then, the tailspin.

It went from the great perspective in that previous post to the reality of needing to work three jobs to even come close to meeting our monthly expenses, dealing with a broken down car, and a usually active and helpful guy being on bedrest for nearly two months. Lack of sleep, lack of exercise and eating during the day only when I'd remembered to pack my lunch the night before became the norm. We did have help -- where blood relatives failed us, our military family and friends showed up in full force to keep me sane and help with tasks like school supply shopping and necessities like bill paying. My 11-year-old spent her summer playing nursemaid to my husband and babysitter to her less-than-well-mannered sisters while I ran from job to job. I still cringe thinking about those unending weeks.

I cannot tell you how many times I've kicked myself for ever thinking that while he was deployed was harder than what this year would be. I could not have been more wrong. I'm sure there are other families who survive a deployment only to have something major show up that was unanticipated, unwelcome and for which they were unprepared. That's us. Add to the physical incapacitation all the goofy behavioral and mental things that come along with post-deployment/suffering a serious injury that puts you out of commission for months and you have a real fesitval of fun times.

We're moving along and I still marvel that I look longingly back to deployment when things were uncomplicated and "easier." How ridiculous is that?

Am I the only one who has ever experienced this 'grass is greener' weirdness?

My husband has since been released from bedrest and returned to his civilian workplace part-time just this past week. He is not doing his old job, as his sight has not returned to his injured eye. We have hopes it will, but it's an excruciatingly long process and we may have no idea what we're really dealing with until spring.

I had to disengage from pretty much everything "normal" to be able to meet the demands of my current lifestyle. Something about having three jobs, three kids, two dogs, a broken down car and a physically incapacitated husband didn't really make me pleasant company, a very attentive friend or even a very prolific blogger for that matter.

I'm hopeful that with his return to his civilian job and his return to drill this weekend (he qualified on his firearm using his opposite eye/hand combo), I may be able to wean myself off this high-adrenaline, bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders lifestyle.

So, if my mantra of "Next year..." isn't going to cut it, I'm going to need to come up with something else. What are some truths or sayings that deployment and life as a military spouse have taught you? Would love to read them (and then unabashedly steal them) in comments.

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