It was Thanksgiving day. Almost exactly 365 days after my husband had returned from his first deployment. We were not sitting down for a turkey dinner. We were dropping him off for his 2nd deployment. We had celebrated Thanksgiving the week before. In my head, it was no longer Thanksgiving but D-day, Day 1, the day we dropped my husband off and started our months of separation.
This time, we said our goodbyes rather quickly. We didn’t wait around until the bus left. We hugged and kissed and I put my boys in the car and we drove home. I can still remember turning around to my almost-two-year-old and four-year-old and telling them that we “got this.” That we were going to rock this deployment. They were so young, they probably didn’t know what I was talking about but I looked at them as my team. My guys. We were going to get through this together.
This deployment was going to be a year. He left in November and he came home November 1st of the following year. During that time we got through a German winter, a beautiful spring, a summer in California and then a fall waiting for his return. Looking back, I think this was the one deployment I really rocked. I was able to find ways make the best of the situation. Although so much about that deployment was very difficult, I was able to figure out ways to speed things up and allow myself to have fun with my boys even though my husband was gone.
As I think about the two deployments that came after that one, I can see what was so different about them and why in some ways they were so much harder even though they were shorter. How I wasn’t able to rock those deployments as much as I was able to do so with our 2nd one. I would never say I have a favorite deployment. I will say this 2nd deployment was the one I can look back on with better memories and a better understanding of how to get through something difficult.
Here are 4 ideas to help you rock YOUR next deployment
1. Find a Battle Buddy- I went through this 2nd deployment with a friend. We lived about 2 blocks away and our husbands were in the same area. This helped so much. A good friend is a good friend and always helpful but having someone who is going through the deployment too can make a big difference. There is just something about going through something like a deployment together that makes that other person feel like family and you can really depend on each other. Your spouse has battle buddies and you need them too. If either one of us was having a bad deployment day we could make plans to meet up and get through the day with each other.
2. Plan a Trip- Going on a trip of some kind can really help you during a deployment. We went on three trips during our 2nd deployment. The first was a trip to one of my favorite places, Garmisch in Germany. The 2nd was to visit my friend in Austria for the week. The third and biggest trip was flying Space-A to California and staying there for about three months. We had my husband meet us in California for R&R which was amazing. Going on these trips took a lot of work but they were worth doing. They broke up the deployment and allowed us to have some fun even though my husband was deployed. They allowed us to get out of our rut and enjoy life during that year apart.
3. Focus on projects- Because we were planning a Space-A trip, we needed to plan for it. Flying Space-A takes a lot of research. So, my friend and I would have the kids play together and we would sit and figure out our Space-A plans. This took up a lot of time and gave us something to focus on. It allowed us to work on something we had control over. Projects can look different. Some people want to re-arrange their house, others want to go to school or even work on their career. Think about what you can focus on while your spouse is away. Take that time he will be gone and put those days to good use. You will be glad you did once he gets home and you have accomplished something during that time away.
4.Grow Grow Grow- Take the deployment as a time to grow. To work on yourself. To find yourself again. Deployment gives you space to do this. A time to really get to know who you are without the distractions of another adult in the home. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have my husband home then deployed but it is nice to be able to take that time you have to yourself and figure out how to make it work for you. My husband will go to AT with the National Guard later this year and I plan to spend that time away to work on myself and grow as a person.