The end of deployment is usually marked by deployment confessions -- all those things you meant to do right, but just didn’t.
The vegetables you meant to serve that rotted in the fridge. The money you meant to save but spent on wild nights on eBay. The care package ideas you collected but never sent. That sippy cup you were using as a wine glass when the day was just too damn long. Do you have deployment confessions?
I do. This time I had to confess a biggie. All these months of deployment I have been sharing my bed with another guy: our 11 year-old son.
I know, I know. You were thinking I had the energy to go out and find another guy. Thanks for thinking that was possible, but, really, um, no.
This time I was just a slacker mom.
This deployment was so terribly quiet. This house that was full of family and friends and food and laughing and talking was suddenly a house of frozen chicken nuggets and the TV on all the time.
Our fifth grader did not take kindly to this. Peter started reminding me to lock the car doors. He would scold me for leaving the oven on for a second longer than necessary.
In the middle of the night he would call out, “MOM! MOM! DID YOU LOCK THE FRONT DOOR??” Then, of course, I couldn’t remember whether I had done it or not so I had to get up and check again. And again.
So when the boy started climbing into my bed in the middle of the night, I confess I did not care. I was tired -- the kind of tired you are only during deployment.
I had just read Blue Star Families ebook Everyone Serves. One of the things that they advise again and again is for everyone to get good sleep. Besides, the bed is as big as a Carmax parking lot. The entire fifth grade could sleep here. And when is the last time anyone really read Oedipus Rex anyway?
Would it have been better to have the boy sleep in his own bed? Sure. But the deployment confession manual says that you can’t do everything. You gotta make choices. You gotta find solutions. And sometimes the solutions that get you through the night are less than ideal.
When I told my husband about how his place in my bed had been taken by another man, he laughed. “We will just deal with it when I get home,” he would say.
Then Brad came home.
That first night, we put Peter to bed, said his prayers, told him we loved him, kissed him goodnight and shut the door.
Then just at that blissful moment when we were just lying in each other’s arms talking, the door banged open. Peter bounded into bed between us and crawled under the covers. “This is my finale,” he announced.
I was going to kick him out. But my husband had this soft look on his face for his son. Nothing is more endearing than a man who thinks his kids are cute. So Peter slept with us.
But the next night Peter’s demands to sleep in our bed did not stop. While we slept, he would scoot onto our bedroom floor wrapped in his quilt like a giant speed bump. We would trip on him then put him back in his bed.
We would find Peter's body parked on our bed like they park cars under the Reagan building in downtown Washington, D.C. -- on edges and curves and slivers that hadn’t previously existed until they were needed.
Then Peter would appear in our bedroom like Boo Radley -- standing very close to the wall, holding his breath and hoping we wouldn’t notice him.
The experts at BSF reminded readers that children often show feelings through behavior rather than words. What was this behavior saying exactly? We didn’t know. Peter couldn't tell us.
It was one of those things I could have called Military Onesource about. But my mom gut was telling me that Pete was essentially OK.
Brad said we just needed to do what we did when Peter was little -- keep putting him back in his bed until he is sure that he is OK that we are all safe that everything is just as it should be.
And I confess that’s where we still are. Five nights a week Peter sleeps through the night in his own bed. Then those two nights he is back on the wall like Boo Radley.
Brad and I both know that one of these days we will not be able to remember exactly when Peter stopped trying to sleep in our bed.
But the point of deployment confessions is acknowledging that deployment has its costs. That people large and small deal with deployment the best that they can. And that there is time after deployment to work through our confessions and our limitations and our thousand thousand feelings.
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