Photo Courtesy of: Angela Caban (Capturing Smiles Photography)
As an Army National Guard wife, I do not have the same resources and support available that active families have. I don’t live on base, have military families around me, and my husbands’ unit does not exactly have the most organized FRG. These are obstacles that I had to overcome when my husband deployed in 2008, and ones that I still deal with today. It wasn’t easy and many times I asked myself, “How am I supposed to cope through the stresses of deployment when I have no support?”
Well simply put, if I got through it, anyone can! What did I do? I took matters into my own hands and I didn’t dwell on the situation or feel bad for myself. I had to be proactive and get moving quickly; after all we only had a few weeks before deployment. Have you ever hear that old saying “It only takes a few books to become an expert”? Well it’s true and I found myself picking up books on the military life and reading them within days. I also connected with others online and tried to find other spouses women who also needed support. I figured if I was clueless, someone out there would be too.
I enjoyed keeping busy and staying focused on things that needed to be done. I worked full-time and took the opportunity to return to school. I highly suggest anyone who is looking into a hobby during deployment, to consider continuing their education. Being so busy if course did have its downfalls and since there was no way to clone myself I had to find alternatives of dealing with the stresses of deployment.
My home life quickly went from happy family of three, to a busy single mom. Anything from dishes, laundry and cleaning slowly consumed my every spare minute. Working 40 hours a week and not getting home until after 6 pm each night, was also putting a damper on any alone or free time I may have considered having. So my weekends slowly became my, “catch up on everything I have no time for during the week” days! I had no free time and I wanted to scream, although I always look for the positive in every situation and the busy helped the time go by. But regardless I needed some me time and needed it fast!
I would set it all aside and use my weekend nights as “me time”. Once my son was in bed, I would write, read a book or curl up in bed with a good lifetime movie and unwind. In the end all the other things pending didn’t matter, I knew I would get to it later. These “mini-breaks” gave me a chance for my body and mind to relax. If I felt too overwhelmed I would simply step back and say “God does not give us anything we cannot handle”. And this slowly became my deployment motto!
Another drastic change during deployment was our eating habits. My obsession with takeout food started only a few days after my husband left for his deployment. Working full time and going to school full time really did not leave much time to prepare home cooked meals. I ate an abundance of pizza, McDonald’s and Italian. It was just so much easier then coming home late to cook and then have to clean. But I also noticed the extra money I was spending each week. Financially and health wise, this would not workout much longer.
This was one issue I nipped right at the root. After a few weeks of this unhealthy behavior I decided that it was not fair for my small son. Although at the time he was still eating baby food, I wanted to ensure dinner time stayed the same, even if daddy was not home. So I set aside a day during the week when I prepared different meals and froze them for the weeks to come. This helped me during the stressful moments throughout the week that I simply did not want to nor have time to cook.
I had so many people constantly asking me if I was okay and if I needed any help. I am stubborn by nature and many times although I could have used a helping hand, turned it down. I write this to you in hopes that you do not follow this same path. Do not turn down help! At this time just when you think you have a grasp on deployment, the dishwasher breaks and your kitchen is flooded with two inches of water! This is when I finally stepped back and accepted the help of others. Whether it is to help with household duties to simply talking to someone, you need to do it for yourself and your sanity.
Regardless of the stresses this life brings, being the wife of a soldier has truly made me realize how lucky I am and I can appreciate the time we have together. I fly solo many times in this household, but when my husband steps foot into his home it’s all worth it. Be strong and be willing to accept the changes, things will go a lot smoother – and perhaps you will spare yourself the headaches of stress!