We’ve all been asked the question, “How is your deployment going?” And we have all taken a deep breath and started from the top of our “What Went Wrong List”.
The list can be pages long. We blame Murphy’s Law, the military, and even our husbands. My favorite debate to watch is when two women go back and forth about who had the worst deployment! They act as if there is a reward for the number of ER visits and broken appliances. And if you have heard a wife tell the same story again and again, you’ll notice that it can grow like a great big fish tale. I always feel as if I should be sitting and eating popcorn as the conversation goes from one to the other. It’s better than dinner theater!
I know that these women find an odd sense of strength from feeling that they got through a “harder” deployment. I find it disheartening. There is nothing wrong with a good venting conversation among friends, but going back and forth with the wife you barely know at the soccer field, gym, or store is sad. Does it really matter who has it worse? Isn’t it equally awful that both husbands are deployed?
So, when was the last time you heard a woman talking about her successes during a deployment? I know some of you are raising one eyebrow as you are reading this thinking, “Does this girl’s husband not deploy!?” I promise he has been. I just think it would be great to hear a woman talk about how she was able to go back to school or even finish her Master’s Degree. It would be inspiring to hear women talk about getting back in shape, becoming organized, starting their own business, etc. All of us have had deployment success stories. Some stories might seem small, but they are huge to the woman it happens to.
A military wife is an amazing type of woman. Not just any woman could live this life. They are smart, resourceful, caring, nurturing, strong, independent, and the list goes on and on. So why are we focused on what goes wrong for us? Some would argue that telling another wife what was going right would be bragging or rude. But, I don’t see that as the case.
No one has ever had the fairy tale perfect deployment. I have never heard a wife say, “Wow, your deployment has been rough? Mine has been PERFECT! My children have arrived at school on time every day. My e-mail comes through like clock work. I wake up every morning with my house in order, my meals planned, and I lost five more pounds than I wanted to lose!” IF this did happen, we would have one of two reactions. First would be to wish physical harm upon her, and the second would be to explode with laughter because she is full of . . . well, let’s just stick with hysterical laughter.
None of us will ever have the perfect deployment. We will all have our ups and downs. The difference will be what we decide to focus on. Do you really want to remember your patrols by the bad things that have happened? We can change this. We can start focusing on the accomplishments, goals met, and successes.
I am challenging you. Next time you are talking to a fellow spouse, ask how their deployment is going and see where their part of the conversation goes. If they start with the list of things that went wrong, ask what IS working for them. Maybe it’s as simple as getting on a great schedule.
If you belong to a Family Readiness Group, start a new tradition when getting to know each other. Make everyone say at least one positive thing that they have done during their husband’s deployment. It might seem corny at first, but what you don’t know is that you are not only setting a better mood (Trust me; your fellow wives will giggle when you mention this idea. Don’t worry, just blame me!), you are setting a better example for that young new wife sitting next to you.
To take this even a step further, do this when writing your husband. Whether it is in a letter or an email, take the time to tell him what is going right for you. Our husbands are our best friends and who we lean on when times are difficult. Sometimes we forget to mention the good stuff. It will make you and your husband feel better knowing that there is more to your life than “the bad list”. If you journal, you can start every entry with something you are thankful for. A lot of times you will find your successes on these lists.
Only we can change our outlook on this crazy life. Remember that you can vent when venting is needed, but then let it go. Don’t carry the weight of the bad stuff all through your deployment. Instead, share your success stories. The wife you are talking to might just think to herself, “If she can do it, so can I!” Be positive, not only for yourself, but for your husband, children, and those amazing friends that will be there to listen when you do need to “vent”.