It was April and my husband would be home in June. Only a couple more months to go. I sat down at my computer in my apartment in Germany and looked through all of the summer dresses. I would need to pick something out for homecoming.
I decided to look later and headed to bed, completely unaware of what the next day would bring. Completely unaware of how everything would change and how I wouldn’t need a summer homecoming dress after all.
That next day, we heard the news. The men were not coming back in June, they were being extended and this deployment would go from nine months to twelve just like that.
As military spouses, we know things change all the time. Orders change, locations change, dates change.
We know this and yet, we still hope they don’t. We still wonder if we might be the lucky ones where dates don’t change, and everything happens the way we think it should.
But the reality is, things don’t always go so smoothly during our military spouse lives. We are always having to adjust. Even if it is very hard to do so.
When I heard on the news that all military travel and moves were on hold in Italy and South Korea because of the Coronavirus, I thought about how this was going to be a delay for some military families. And while this one isn’t because of military reasons, it is still a delay.
I know there are some military families who have been counting down the days until their move. I know there are military spouses who assumed their loved one would be back in their arms this month. I know there is a lot of disappointment because of this.
And maybe you have been through this too. Maybe you have been through a deployment extension, or maybe your PCS orders got moved from May to September. Maybe you planned everything out with your kids and their schedules only to be told everything was going to change.
When your countdown gets delayed, no matter what it is for, it is hard to not get extremely frustrated by the whole thing. I know for me, I tend to go down the “what if” hole rather quickly.
What if it gets delayed again?
What if we miss doing something we had planned?
What if this happens every time we PCS or for every deployment?
Because my husband’s first deployment was extended, I had a fear it would happen each and every time. It was so difficult to let go of that. Worried that he would get extended again was always in the back of my head.
And sure, the best thing to do would be to assume the longest time possible, but that is hard to do in reality. When you have young kids, and struggling through each day, the last thing you want to do is tell yourself it is okay if this deployment also gets extended past a year.
So what should you do when your countdown gets delayed? How can you stay calm? Here is what worked for me:
1) Find friends to get through the delay with.
See if anyone else is going through the same thing. The good thing about going through the extension where we were stationed is that almost every single military spouse was going through it too. It was a pretty small post and we were able to come together to help one another through.
2) Make more plans.
Fill up that calendar. Go somewhere every day if that is possible. Staying busy is going to help you, and keep your mind off the waiting. Because that is what a delay is about. Just more waiting.
If you are not able to get out and do stuff away from home, make fun plans inside your home. Start a new hobby, teach your kids something new, or have a movie marathon. You want to avoid just sitting there being sad about your situation, time does not pass that way.
3) Don’t go down the rabbit hole
This is going to be the hardest part. I can go down this hole rather quickly and it gets me so upset. All the “what ifs” can mess with your head.
Talk things over with your spouse, try to focus on any of the good things you are going through at the moment, and no matter what the delay is, things will get moving again eventually.
4) Learn from it all.
I learned a lot from my husband’s delayed homecoming date. It wasn’t always fun, and I cried a lot of tears.
But after he got home, I was able to look back and learn from everything I went through. I was able to pull the good out of the situation and even though I wouldn’t want to go through all of that again, I was glad that I learned something from the experience.
I think sometimes that is all we can do with a stressful delay of any kind. We know they can happen, but when they do, they can really throw us off.
I hope that whatever delay you are experiencing you can find ways to make it through. That you can get through this with friends, family, and by finding creative ways to do so. You got this military spouse!
“Life is a cycle, always in motion, if good times have moved on, so will times of trouble” – Indian proverb