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Deployment

Deployment

Thoughts On Our Military Homecoming

March 14, 2017

You know when a 16×20 poster seems exceptionally large? When you’re standing in a nearly empty airport at 9 pm waiting for your husband to get off a plane. You know when all the odd looks and your giant sign don’t matter? When he finally walks towards you and hugs you for the first time in months.

As many of you know, A came home at the end of last month and I’ve been smiling like this ever since. It originally felt like the deployment would never end, but in that moment, it was like he had only been gone a day.

Every time a military spouse sends their loved one to war, we all wonder what version we’ll get back. Will they be the same? Will they come back whole or will pieces be missing or broken? Will we recognize them? Will they recognize themselves? Luckily for me, I get a very recognizable version of A back each time, albeit maybe a little skinnier and more tired. We fit together again as if we hadn’t been separated and things are almost completely easy again.

But what those viral military homecoming videos never show is what happens after the cameras stop rolling. They never show the adjustment period and believe me there is one! While I love my husband dearly and would take having him home over just about anything else in this world, I won’t lie to you: sometimes it’s weird having him home at first. I get used to doing things my own way on my own time. When you add in another person, even one you love, that all changes and you have to adjust.

Four deployments later, A and I still go through a bit of an adjustment period as we get used to a new routine.  But being honest with each other and openly communicating when one is getting on the other’s nerves really helps us iron out any wrinkles. It helps us get back to being us again and making the most of the time we have together.

Do you go through an adjustment period when your loved one returns home?

Deployment

Thriving During Deployment: The Last 30 Days

March 9, 2017

You did it! You got through the first 30 days of deployment and then the days that followed. You set your deployment goals and you crushed them. And now you’re almost done with deployment! Homecoming is a month away, so close you can almost feel that first hug. But somehow those thirty days seem to be never ending, stretching out almost longer than the past few months. How will you ever survive the last 30 days of deployment?

First, remember that the month will end and you will get your loved one back. It may seem endless, but the finish line is in sight.  You have come this far and are even stronger than when you started, so the next four weeks will not break you.

You have come this far. The last month of #deployment won't break you. Click To Tweet

Next, make some plans! Start picking out your homecoming outfit, think about what your sign will say and maybe even allow yourself to plan a date night or two, or even a homecoming vacation! But don’t feel like you need to have everything absolutely 100% spot-on perfect. As much time and attention as you put into your outfit or the amazing sign you’ll likely fling behind you when it’s hug time, the only thing your loved one will be focused on is YOU. You could show up in PJs and have nothing but your keys in hand and they would be just as excited to see you.

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Then you need to celebrate! While celebrating may seem like what you should do AFTER the last 30 days (and it totally is!), I also think it should be something you do DURING them.  You have carried a lot during the deployment: the fear and loneliness that come with it, loving them long distance and all of the logistical stuff your loved one normally takes care of, plus any of your own commitments. That’s a lot, y’all! So take some time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished in the previous months.

During the last 30 days of #deployment, you should celebrate all you've accomplished! Click To Tweet

Lastly, do something selfish. I know that sounds weird, but pretty soon your entire world will be different. Your focus will be even more centered on your relationship and your loved one. All of that you time you had during deployment? Yeah, it may no longer be a thing. So in the last month of deployment, get a massage, sleep until noon and binge watch Netflix, have cake for dinner, treat yourself to new shoes. Do something for you.

Down to the last month of #deployment? Do something selfish! #treatyoself Click To Tweet

The days will never speed up (if only that were a thing!), but they will pass and your family and heart will be complete again. You’ve thrived throughout the entire deployment, don’t forget to make the most of the last 30 days.

Deployment

Dear Deployment: I Won

March 2, 2017

Dear Deployment,

When we last met I was full of resolve. I talked a big game about no longer being afraid of you. I was ready to crush you and not even feel bad about it.

Now that you’re gone and my husband is home again, I can honestly say I did crush you. I survived your holidays, your stress and your loneliness. I dodged the curve balls you threw at me and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly you went away.  If I’m being honest, I did more than survive. I thrived: starting a business, sticking to fitness goals and kicking butt on my deployment goals. Any way you slice it, I did win.

And I’m very proud of that. A few years ago, I struggled to do anything other than survive. But I’ve grown and gotten better at handling your ups and downs each time you come around. I’m stronger because of you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret, deployment. You actually did crush me a little bit, even though I tried to pretend you didn’t. But here’s the thing, I’m glad you did.  Because if you ever came around and I wasn’t bothered by you, that would bother me.

Even though we’re parting ways for the time being, I know you’ll be back before I know it with a brand new set of challenges. And I will be ready.

Deployment

The Story Behind Homecoming Signs

February 23, 2017
Homecoming Signs

Every military spouse creates a homecoming to-do list a mile long. Somewhere in between “clean house” and “shave legs”, most of us add “make homecoming sign”. Out come the markers, poster board and patriotic rhymes.  But why go through all the trouble of making a sign for such a short period of time? In short, it’s because homecoming signs have so much more meaning than just the words on the poster board.

Logistically speaking homecoming signs are really helpful. Many military homecomings are large affairs with big crowds and it can be hard to spot loved ones amid a sea of people. Having a big sign with your service member’s name on it can help them track you down.

Homecoming Signs

But there is more to homecoming signs than just what meets the eye, especially civilian eyes. To go through a deployment can be heartbreaking, exhausting and more than just a little terrifying. Each day can feel like a really slippery mountain you have to climb solo. Eventually, you’re not sure that you have any mountain climbing left in you.

And then you realize that homecoming day is getting closer and very soon you’ll have someone to help you climb those mountains. So you get excited and want to celebrate. You want to celebrate surviving the nights alone and the days when everything went wrong. You want to celebrate your relationship making it through all that time apart.  You want to celebrate flat out being able to hug your spouse again.

So you break out the poster board and the markers. Heck, you may even throw on some puffy paint and glitter glue. You use all the colors and 12 exclamation points. Why? Because you’re dang excited! That sign is part of the celebration, it’s part of surviving deployment. It tells the whole world that your relationship is now deployment strong.

That’s why I will stand in the middle of an airport to greet my husband, holding a sign that tells him (and the world) how happy I am to have him home.

Deployment

What I Look Forward to During Deployment

February 16, 2017

Shortly before A’s first deployment, I had a total meltdown about him leaving. He tried to cheer me up by telling me that everything would be ok and that eventually I would probably look forward to deployment. Fast forward a few years, and it’s still hard for me to imagine a time when that’s true.

But I can honestly say that three-ish deployments later, I actually do look forward to parts of deployments! I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! And frankly, I’m glad it’s that way. While I never want to look forward to being away from A, I am happy that even in the suckiest of circumstances, I can find the proverbial silver lining.

During deployment, I look forward to…

…the “I am woman, hear me roar” feeling I have after making it through a busy week (or month) at work and still managing to keep both dogs alive and the house standing.

…the first night we all sleep through the night again.

….creating and sending each care package, but none more so than the last one.

…the extra freedom that I have in my life: I watch what I want, eat what I want, go to to bed when I want and so on.

…the extra time I have to spend with family and friends.

…being the center of the dogs’ world and getting all the snuggles.

…not having to shave my legs. Sorry, y’all. That’s real life.

…checking each day off my deployment countdown calendar.

…every message, every phone call and every grainy video chat.

So there you have it. Proof that perhaps A was half right after all. What do you look forward to during deployment?