The late night unorganized ramblings of a military wife

Women write me and tell me how great they think I am. They complement my strength, intelligence, my heart…my parenting, my family, my home, my marriage and for sharing it all with them.

Isn’t it amazing how perfect it all sounds?

I get a lot of wonderful emails from readers of my column and blog. They all share a common message…they say thank you for what I do, which means the world to me and why I continue to write, and 99% give me at least one of the comments above. I’ve always preached about being transparent. If I’m not, how will others relate? If only one person reads a post I write and gets something from it, then it was worth the time and energy that I put into it.

If you’ve known my writing for years, you will remember that my “Sea Duty” columns/post were very different from this last year and a half’s writings while on Shore. I’m realizing that being on shore changed me. It changed my marriage, my family, it changed everything. My life is a fairytale in this moment. I have two beautiful healthy, smart, incredibly fun children and a husband of 11 years that I love and who is home more than he works. 

We have dinner together. No, we don’t just have dinner together…most of the time the husband is home to make dinner with me. My youngest (daughter) helps set the table. My oldest (son) helps clean up. We say grace. We take turns talking about our days and I always ask, “What was the best part of your day? Then I ask, “What was the worst part?” They always have something to share. But, when it get’s to my turn, I share my best and usually something silly for my worst…like how the dog was sick or I just missed them. But, I want to say how fast time is going by.

My recent posts have been, for the most part upbeat, positive and reassuring. That’s because this part of my life is all those things. It’s so easy to share the good. It’s fun to write about family time and an exciting new business start-up. It makes me smile to share my fitness journey and it connects me to readers to talk about my feelings.

I know that not all shore duty experiences are as good as mine. I’ve had friends wish for deployments to start again after only a few months. Does that mean they don’t love their husbands? No. It means that is all they know. It is who they are. It’s who I have to soon become again.

It’s already nearing the end of March. The husband mentioned this week that it is time to call the detailer. I kept my cool and replied with something like, “Yes, it’s going to be time for orders….you should call and see whats coming available,” as I walked into the other room.

I had to walk away because my heart sank into my stomach and I couldn’t find my breath. I leaned against the wall in our bedroom and just stared blankly at the room. I’m not sure how long I stood there, but I knew the feeling I was having. It’s the same feeling you get before the big “D”.  It’s funny that we refer to it like that. Like it’s some sort of whispered code for a word that was banned and use of it is punishable by law.

A rush of feelings are coming back to me. The life before the fairytale. Deployments are not for everyone. I have watched marriages fail…including my own. We were one of the lucky ones. We were able to save ours, but so many can’t. It’s hard to watch what unravels around you. You feel helpless….fearful.

I’ve enjoyed my peaceful existence on shore duty. My marriage is stronger than ever, my family is happy and healthy…but the talks loom. In as little as 8 months, the husband could deploy. We hope to have one more Christmas together, but I can’t help but think I should have paid more attention while we were together last Christmas. I should have taken more in. It’s crazy to think of the next 5 years and not know when our next Christmas together will be.

It’s time to start preparing the kids. I know, 8 months seem so very far away. But, we all know how fast it will come. The last time my husband deployed, our kids were in 6th and 2nd grade. They will now be in 5th and 9th. I think about our soon to be 14-year-old son and what talks he will be having with his Mom because Dad is away. I worry about a 10-year-old daughter who is a Daddy’s girl and misses him on days he just has to work late. I think about my husband and how he always leaves wishing he could have done more.

I dread the silence… And the empty chair at the dinner table might as well have a spotlight on it because it serves as a daily reminder that he is gone.

I’m quickly remembering the hard days…Like when the kids were really little and I’d go to bed with them at 6:30pm with the noise of the neighborhood buzzing, just so the day would end and tomorrow would come.

Or when I started crying in a store because, “I’ll be home for Christmas” came on during a long deployment.

I am not perfect. There are times the laundry is left in the basket clean and foraged through and used before it ever gets folded. There are times where I feel like I’ve lost my mind, let alone control. There are moments where I feel like I can’t do it anymore.

Why am I sharing these thoughts and moments? My life is not summed up by the first paragraph. I fail, my marriage has struggled, I’ve had bad days, and my life isn’t perfect. Because, right now there is a woman reading this who can’t sleep because her husband is deployed or working night/swings/shift work. There is a woman exhausted and hurting and all she wants is to hear his voice. There is a woman who feels alone. And, there is a spouse who feels like they just can’t do it anymore.

I write and share these thoughts to let you know that you are not alone. My recent post may be all rainbows and puppy dog tails, but I have weathered the storms and as another wonderful wife wrote, fought my own “wars”. We all have. I don’t want a spouse reading my blog thinking, “She’s nothing like me….”

with all that said, if you know my writing, you will know that Deployments are not all bad. And you only know how strong you are once being strong is the only choice. I pick myself up and carry on, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get knocked back down….sometimes face first into the dirt…in the rain….during your own personal storm.

Tonight, my thoughts are on the next chapter….the deployments…the struggles. Tomorrow is a new day and I will take it all in as the kids run around the house giggling and I have a husband to kiss goodnight. But, for now, my heart is with the spouses of the deployed.

5 thoughts on “The late night unorganized ramblings of a military wife

  1. I really like how you touch on how hard shore duty can be here. My husband is a year into three years of shore duty. Its his first command, so we’ve never done deployments. I cannot tell you how often people associate shore duty with pretty much not being a military spouse.

    Personally, my husband went all the way through F school – so he did six extra months of schooling than usual and then was sent to Japan with a week’s notice. We went 9 months without seeing eachother after he left, and then had to wait another two for me to be able to join him here. Now that I’m here, he works 10pm and 10am one month and then 10am to 10pm the next month on a two days on two days off schedule. Even only working part time, our schedule completely clashes and there’s nothing to be done about going 2 or three days without anything more than a passing goodmorning or goodnight.

    Our relationship hasn’t been a cakewalk and isn’t now. It’s really frustrating to be treated as if I cannot understand what it means to miss my husband simply because he is on shore duty and I wish more wives would understand that it really can be hard. If I had one observation for military wives, it would be that we all need to give eachother (and ourselves) a break now and then!

  2. Dh is in the Marines. We did a regular infantry stint for a few years, had our major issues then. Next we did sort of an SDA where he was non deployable for two years but really long hours. I worked alot as well 60+ hours a week. We were able to really get a foundation for our marriage during that time and really work stuff out but no real quality time. It was hard to go back to the fleet and his normal job of deploying, work ups, individual classes always on other bases. We are back doing a real SDA now and I chose not to work full time, especially when he can be off cycle. I’m glad you have soaked up all you have in the last so many years. I completely regret not doing that our first time. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. Families need that time! I hope your transition will be smooth. I always enjoy your blogs, it’s always nice to be able to relate. Thank you.

  3. I cried as I read this, it speaks to me. Sadly, my friends and family try but they do not understand. Sadly, many times military spouses are either too competitive, too private, or just unaware and so of no help at all. I have a wonderful marraige, (today), two awesome children, and the shadow of deployment looming over it all every second of every day. He has been sent the last two years over the winter holidays on short to no notice and to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time. Communication with him is what we loved for and that was spotty at best. During these deployments we had two deaths in the family, bills get lost in the rush and utilities being cut off, my car was impounded, money was stolen, my children bullied, and no one from his squadron was there… his first shirt actually threatened to contact child protective services because my job was putting added demand on my time! I am still so shaken and traumatized I have nightmares. This is by far not my first rodeo, I know it isn’t always that bad… thank you, your words are comforting.

  4. I thought I was the only person who went to bed at the same time as the kids. Except I usually do it out of sheer exhaustion, to get some sleep before they wake me at 6:30 the next morning to do it all over again tomorrow. Thanks for the ramblings.

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