Embrace or Hate the Leap Year, Military Style

Every four years, thanks to the rotation of the earth and the sun’s orbital pressure cooker, and the aligning of the planets ... okay, I don’t actually know why, and I’m too lazy to Google at the moment. But, every four years, we get a gift: an extra day during the year.

As military families, we’re pretty possessive about time, the passing of days and anything to do with dates. When the rest of the world barely notices an extra day in this normally short month, military families are experiencing both ends of the spectrum -- some of us are so grateful for the “extra” day, and others are cursing it.

Now, if you’re in the middle of a deployment, and you’ve already had the washing machine break on you within five minutes of your service member’s plane/boat/bus departing, well, you’re not going to be real pleased when Feb. 29 rolls around, are you? All it will have done is prevent you from flipping the calendar one month closer to homecoming and from being able to scream in your head as you fight the crowded aisles of the commissary, “FEBRUARY IS OVER.”

Well, not yet. And, that’s annoying.

On the other hand, if your spouse is edging ever closer to spending his all expenses paid summer vacation in Afghanistan, the knowledge that February gave you a freebie is thrilling. In your heart you know it didn’t really change things; had there been no Feb. 29, they would just deploy a day earlier. And, yet, it doesn’t matter. Because, when your head says, “He leaves in March,” and February doles out an extra day, it’s an extra day.

Don’t argue. It just is. IT IS.

This is what leap years are like for military families. When you squeeze an extra day on to the calendar, it either represents an extra day gone, or another 24 hours in your arms. It’s either one more day of hugs and memories or one more day wishing you were reliving those moments.

So, what can you do? How do you make this day that can cause extreme highs and lows enjoyable, tolerable, or, at the very least, quick?

Embrace it, because it only comes around every four years.

Do something completely out of the norm. Do something that would make you normally say, “Oh my gosh, I would never do that.” Then do it.

There was an episode of Frasier where he advocates this idea to his father, brother and sister-in-law to hilarious results. Daphne’s haircut and tears still makes me laugh.

Wait, bad example.

Still, this is one of the great regrets I have after 10 years of living the military life -- wishing away time. I have wished away years waiting for my husband to come home, instead of enjoying the days and hours I’ve been given. Ask me again in the middle of a separation, and I may bite your head off, but, right now, I can see the silver lining of an extra day.

Can you?


Photo courtesy of Flickr user reynermedia via the Creative Commons license.

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