1. When a deployment is imminent, we just want it to start. That doesn't mean we want our spouses to leave. We don't. But when the date has been set and our husband's bag is sitting half-packed in the corner of the bedroom, we start getting anxious, worried and a little bit angry. We think about the upcoming months and everything he's going to miss and everything we're going to have to do alone. It's overwhelming. Once they leave, we can start to tackle the challenges one at a time and that's so much easier than the waiting. But those last few weeks before he leaves are wrought with frustration, nervousness and a little fear.
2. We are not miserable the whole time they are gone. We don't like that our family is split up, but we can't live in the future or press a pause button on our life, so we focus on other things. Hobbies, children, visiting friends and family, work; our life is still full. Just not complete.
3. But there are tears right underneath the surface. Whenever our children do something new, or something exciting or sad happens, or even when there have been just too many nights that we've stayed in alone, we get really sad. And we can't always be sad because we don't want to upset the kids.
4. That being said, most of us like our lifestyle. We enjoy the adventure of moving every few years, starting over, making new friends and living in various parts of the country and world. We have close friends everywhere. It's stressful yes, but also exciting.
5. We rely on our friends a lot. Even when our husbands are home, we are used to being canceled on at the last minute, not knowing schedules until an hour before an event, or having a job take precedence over the family. So, we have friends who are reliable, patient, flexible and who make us laugh. We love and truly appreciate our friends. So do the kids.
6. Our children are well adjusted and okay. In fact, most of the time, they are amazing in their ability to see the silver lining in every challenge. From the beginning of their lives, they've moved around, started over and had a parent leave for huge amounts of time. We have lots of strategies to help them stay connected, and we analyze how to make each deployment as painless as possible on the children.
7. We don't need or want pity. We look for love, friendship and fun. We don't need you to say "I'm sorry," when we tell you our husbands are away. We knew what we signed up for when we got married. However, we'd be so grateful for a helping hand. Helping us with something that would normally take two people, like shoveling snow or even just bringing in our grill for the winter would be awesome and will relieve the stress a little.
8. Please don't ask us what we are going to do to "keep busy" when our husbands are gone. Just like you have a healthy relationship with things outside your marriage, so do we. We don't need to "keep ourselves entertained" or "find something to do to pass the time" while he's gone. Those comments are insulting. We will just continue to live our life. Yes, there will be a hole in it, but we will not be pining away for six months or a year. So don't try to give us projects or find stuff to keep us busy. We'll be fine.
9. There are romantic moments about military life that rival only the most dramatic movies. We've been spun around by a man in uniform after he hasn't seen us in months. We've seen our children run toward their daddy with pure glee and excitement. We've dressed up like royalty and attended military galas and we've watched ships pull into port, with sailors standing at attention around the perimeter.
10. And sometimes the civilian population can be so supportive and sweet that it just brings tears to our eyes. These moments are precious and get us through all the tough stuff. So thank you. We appreciate all the thoughts, good wishes and the extra stuff you do to make us feel better. We notice it. We see it. And it really does help.
Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru and has been married to a United States sailor for 3 years and 3 deployments.