Another Veterans Day has passed. We recognize and celebrate the men and women who have defended our country, and all of our freedoms. We recognize their sacrifice, and that of their families. Wait. I don’t think we ever recognize the families. At least, not like we should. I actually don’t hear it mentioned much at all. There are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and children, at home, waiting for their loved ones to return. They are proud, but worried. They are strong, yet their lives are disrupted. For some strange reason, I have always felt this focus on the functioning of the family while their soldier is gone. I want to know how they’re doing it, and if they’re okay. So, I asked Emilie to tell me about it. Here is her story:
Living with Deployment: (6 months in the life of a deployed Air National Guard wife)
I am a stay-at-home mom with four very active children ages 2, 6, 8, and 10. I also married a man who is committed to serving his country in the Air National Guard. What does that mean? Basically every month he disappears for the weekend into the guard base for training. He does get to come home at night, but the days are pretty much full. There is also 2 weeks of annual training in the summer where they pack up and leave just like they are deploying. Usually they run training exercises with other units and my husband is always fired up with enthusiasm when he gets back.
Deployment #1 was to Iraq. I had 2 kids (1 and 3 at the time). It was hard and we missed him terribly. I remember sobbing in a Family Readiness meeting, because I realized he wouldn’t be at our son’s first birthday. He missed so many little things while he was gone. We Skyped, sent photos, made art for Daddy, made videos, and did everything we could think of to keep in touch. I found other things during deployment that were positive. I took responsibility of the family finances, ran the household, took care of the kids, found new friends, renewed old friendships, and basically made it through ok. There were rough times, but we met on that runway and it was heaven to hug him.
Speed forward to this year and Deployment #2 in an undisclosed location in the middle east. That right there is one of the hardest things for people to understand. I can’t tell where he is. I can’t say when he will be back (don’t even really know yet). I can’t say any of these things, because it could put him in danger.
What is deployment like with 4 kids? Hard! The kids are brave and proud of their Daddy, but it hurts to have him gone and 6 months is a huge time in the life of a kid. Sometimes it is like dominos, one kid starts and soon we are all a pile of angry tears. There is nowhere to go and be alone to recover. Try leaving 4 crying kids with a babysitter, they won’t answer your calls next time.
There is sometime economic pressure. The first time my husband deployed there he was just starting a new job and was considered a contractor. He took a huge pay cut and we basically lived paycheck to paycheck. This time we are lucky because his workplace supports his service and adds to his paycheck to make the full amount. Not everyone has this support.
It is not always tears. Life goes on and there have been plenty of giggles, kisses and cuddles. Tons of baseball games, soccer games, cub scout meetings, girl scout meetings, trips to the zoo and museums fill the time. Family, friends, and church members help out and make the load lighter. Again I have been learning the multitude of things I can do on my own, but I desperately miss my husband.
Another question I constantly get asked is “shouldn’t he retire?” Yes, eventually. Even with all the pain of separation and the annoyances that result from deployments, I am so proud of my husband. He is a man who will give and keep giving. He is a gentle loving man, who truly cares about helping people. He is exactly the type of person we need representing our nation. I support his service and his sacrifice. Our brave, happy band of snugglers are waiting for him to get home and just hug him forever.
A peek into a family’s life that we may not think about, or have ever considered what it may be like. Another reason, like the rest of my “Living With” series, to think before you judge someone’s mood or distraction if they’re having a bad day, because often we have no idea what is going on behind their closed doors. Or on their minds. Not that this applies to Emilie. She’s always very sweet. 🙂 So next time you get a chance, thank a veteran. And their family.
If you have a story that you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear from you! Click here to be directed to my Contact Me page.
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