Once a child has been deployed, the days and nights not only seem to be never-ending, but they tend to run together day after day, week after week, and month after month. Functioning at the bare minimum can be a major task, yet there are ways to meet the challenge like a real trooper.
Maintaining a regular schedule may help alleviate wondering what to do, while pursuing a new hobby can be a diversion. For many during this time the need to stay close to home is overwhelming and yet there are others that need to get away from the everyday schedule. Some fluctuate between wanting to stay busy doing household projects and days when curling up with a book is all they can handle. One thing to remember is not to allow thoughts that it’s wrong to enjoy life while a child’s deployed keep you from doing something fun with a friend or loved one. Whatever works for you is okay, the goal is finding a way to relax and feel the freedom to breath deep during a time of tension.
Family and friends will do their best to be supportive, but if they’ve never had a loved one deployed their understanding will be limited. That’s why support from other military families can be a lifeline; they’ve ridden the same roller coaster of emotions and truly understand.
Also, during the upheaval of deployment some struggle with insomnia, anxiety, or depression enough they need to see a physician. This is nothing to be ashamed of, accepting whatever help’s available is the wisest thing to do. Again, the goal is to do whatever is needed to do for you!
Journaling is a great form of release by recording thoughts or simply as a diary of daily events, an outlet to clear and refresh the mind. During our son’s second deployment at one point I was feeling really down so to keep my thoughts positive, I decided that each day I would write a sentence describing something I was thankful for and something good that happened that day.
Next, having a notebook available to jot down things you think of to tell or ask your child when they call is really helpful, since the mind tends to go blank at ‘hello’. It’s also great for taking notes while conversing because at times the excitement of hearing their voice makes remembering what they said impossible. And, if they use military acronyms, don’t waste time asking the meaning, write them down to look up later at a military dictionary website.
Remember, during the call you may hear things that are upsetting, don’t fall apart while on the line, let them say whatever it is they need to say, then when the call ends you can release emotions as you cry in the shower, go for a run, or whatever works for you.
Another reason to keep a notebook handy is if the gut wrenching call comes informing you that your child has been wounded you’ll need to record the date, times, who phoned and any other vital information available. The more written down, the less to remember. Also, I suggest every military parent have international phone service or phone cards available just in case they’re needed. Everyone hates to think about this call, but being prepared relieves a lot of stress during the initial upheaval if the call does come.
The fact that the months while a child’s deployed are a long journey with many twists and turns, but one thing I told myself on a daily basis was this “In the course of American history, millions of mothers have gotten through having a child at war, if they could do it, I CAN DO IT! And you can too! It might be a day at a time or sometimes an hour at a time, but your mission will be successful.
Below is a poem I wrote as we spent the last few days with our son prior to his second deployment.
JUST A WEEK AWAY
UNTIL WE MUST SAY GOOD-BYE
THE HOURS SEEM LIKE MINUTES…
THE DAYS LIKE HOURS AND…
THE WEEK LIKE A DAY.
SO LITTLE TIME, SO MANY EMOTIONS;
RESPECT, FEAR, HOPE, PRIDE,
HONOR, ANXIETY, SORROW,
JOY, EMPTINESS, AMAZEMENT,
AND LOVE OVERFLOWING.
AS THE DEPARTURE IS APPROACHING.
HE’LL NEVER BE ‘OUT OF MIND’,
WHEN HE’S ‘OUT OF SIGHT’.
THE MEMORIES AND DREAMS
WILL CONTINUE DAILY AS
THE CONCERNS THE MIND WILL FIGHT.
TIME WILL CHANGE
WHILE HE’S GONE.
THE MINUTES WILL SEEM LIKE HOURS….
THE HOURS LIKE DAYS…
THE DAYS LIKE WEEKS…
AND A WEEK LIKE A MONTH.
HOWEVER, TIME WILL GO ON,
AND LIKE OUR CONFIDENT, RESOLUTE MARINE
WE MUST FOCUS ON OUR TASK;
PRAYING, LOVING, ENCOURAGING, AND SUPPORTING HIM,
BECAUSE THAT’S ALL OF US HE’S ASKED.
© 2009 by Kathy Guzzo