With a baby on one arm, I tried my best to reach up to my husband and give him one last kiss. One last kiss before he would deploy for the first time in our marriage for seven months. Seven long months. Tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t talk. I could barely look at him without wanting to collapse. I tried to stay strong. I asked if he had everything. I asked him if he has his ID. I asked if he’s was hungry. I asked him anything to try to delay the inevitable.
He was leaving to serve his country. And I would stay behind to care of myself, our home, and our newborn son in a brand new duty station by myself.
His seven months would be harder, don’t get me wrong. My seven months would still be difficult.
The first month was full of tears. I was a hermit. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, entertain anyone, see anyone. I had a baby and I had what was left of my sanity.
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The second month, family came to visit for a weekend to check on me and help clean the mess that was my house. I had managed to see friends once, but only because they came over uninvited.
The third month, I was done. I felt done. I worked all day, then came home to my “second shift” and then take care of our newborn. I tried my best to get sleep. I ate like crap. The gym? Forget it. I became detached from family, friends, and coworkers.
“I can’t do this,” I thought. “I should have just went home and stayed with family. Why did I do this to myself? …I’m not happy.”
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And then I remembered, Happiness is love.
I had a husband who loved me enough to be apart from his family in order to support his family.
I had family who loved me enough to take time to take care of my mess, without asking any questions.
I had friends who loved me enough to come to my house unannounced to check in on me.
…and I had my baby. With every grasp of my finger, every cuddle into my arms, and peaceful nap on my chest, I knew he loved me.
I was loved. I am loved.
Before the halfway point of that deployment, I finally realized the secret to getting through deployment as a military spouse.
Live your life.
Life doesn’t stop when he deploys. People still love you. You have one life to life. Allow yourself some time to grieve but move forward. Examine all of the positives in your life and that will give you the strength to make the most out of every day. Sometimes we’re too quick to count down the days. Instead we should make the days count.
After the halfway point, I made a goal. I love freelance writing. I wanted to start a blog. And I did. I had no clue how to code or promote or design. If you’ve been around since the beginning, you know that this blog was pretty sad looking the first few months. But those first few months were spent discovering myself. Discovering myself as a writer, a blogger, a mom, a military spouse. There were many times I thought “Why bother?” And the answer was “Because it’s worth it”. Having a goal/hobby was absolutely worth it to take care of myself.
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As a mom and military spouse, I feel like I give out all the pieces to everyone else: my husband, my kid, my family, my pet, my house, my employer, my friends, military life. This one slice, I needed to have for me. For J.D.
Deployment is not about getting through “one more day”. It’s about adjusting your sails to the winds, and moving forward on your journey of military life.
Some tips to “living your life” during deployment.
Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Something to strive for during the length of deployment.
Find a hobby
No time? No problem. Find a small hobby that can be done during multitasking. Post more IG photos when checking your phone. Listen to podcasts while cooking. Learn to knit while watching TV. Walk to the park instead of driving to get some exercise.
Don’t forget the little things
Appreciating the little things will help you get through deployment. A smile on your child’s face. A text from your friends. A “job well done” from your employer. During one deployment, I complimented the Starbucks worker in the drive through on her hair. She was so appreciative and said that “I made her day”. Her comment, then made my day.
Deployment is temporary. It still sucks. But it’s temporary. You will make it through. And you will be stronger than you were before. Don’t let one chapter of your life define the whole story.
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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Roberto Villa Jr./Released)