I’ve been asked numerous times how I get through deployments. I almost always answer, “I have to, there’s no other option.” Our children need me, and my husband needs to know his wife is able to handle it. We have been separated due to the military several times, sometimes for just a few weeks, sometimes a month, sometimes several months, and one time a year. We’ve been married about nine and a half years; we’ve been a part due to the military for a total of two and a half years! Which to some is a lot, and to other military spouses that’s not too bad.
Our first deployment wasn’t too bad because I was deployed at the same time; I left before him and got back a few weeks before he came home. We didn’t have children, made it so much easier! Our next big deployment wasn’t until our second daughter Presley was born and she was nine months old and Emma was two and a half. It was very hard. We were at a base where I only had two friends and luckily cousins living nearby. Emma was at the age where she realized her daddy wasn’t home and would cry out for him some times. How do you console a two year old that can’t comprehend why her daddy isn’t around? Luckily we all live in the wonderful time of facetime!
I tried to keep the kids busy as much as possible and also tried to keep myself occupied. I tried making sure we had a routine and stuck to it, and we also tried to make it where we talked to my husband around the same time every day. Children thrive off of consistency! We would go once a month to the deployed family dinners where we were surrounded by families in the same boat as us. They tried to make it as fun as possible for the kids and made them feel special. I’d take them to story time at the library, parks, swimming, ice cream dates, make giant blanket forts, church, and anything else to occupy our minds and not so focused on missing daddy.
It probably wasn’t even a month after my husband came back from this deployment that he was notified he was doing a year short tour overseas. I remember feeling so crushed! I’m one of those wives that love to always have her husband around even if we’re not doing anything. I just love his presence. We luckily had several months to prepare and this time we chose for the girls and me to move close to family. We didn’t know if we’d ever get the chance to live near family so we wanted them to get to know them while we had the chance.
This was the toughest year in my opinion. Emma was four and Presley was two and they both knew that daddy wasn’t around. There were several nights all throughout the year where they cried before bed, or they would be acting out and I’d ask them what the deal was and they’d respond, “I just miss daddy!” There were lots of tears and explaining that he was away working but he’ll be back as soon as he can. He was able to come home after about seven and a half months and stayed for about a month. This luckily made the last part of the year tour fly by! I thought that him leaving again after his short visit would make it harder on the girls but it actually went really well!
I know I just went on and explained our situation and didn’t really give advice. But the biggest things I recommend is to first still include him in conversation constantly! We talked about him nonstop as if he had been around all along. Second, face time as much as possible! If your spouse isn’t going to be able to video chat with you, have him record videos and send them to you. There were days that my husband was on shifts that wouldn’t allow him to talk to the kids so he would record videos and send them to me to show the girls. They loved it! Third keep busy, and keep a routine! I feel like I did a lot of the same things every single day and it honestly helped me with the time passing. Fourth, take care of yourself! I am one of those extremely stubborn people who don’t like to ask for help (my husband is probably nodding yes big time to this), but I had to have some time to myself. Luckily I have had people offer to watch my kids to give me time to get my hair done, or run errands alone, or do whatever I needed to, just to have a breather. Lastly, communicate with your spouse as much as possible, about anything and everything. This helps you and your spouse; they’re missing out on a lot and want to feel included in what you’re doing as well.
Pray often and know that you will get through it, some days will be worse than others. You’re strong and your husband will be home soon!