Content Courtesy of USAA Member Community.
By: Briana Hartzell
My husband is set to deploy next year. I feel very lucky to know this in advance, so I can pretend to be in control of our life and to schedule and make plans as best I can. While I am glad to have an idea of what is to come, it is causing me to overthink our plans for the months leading up to this deployment. I find myself trying to prematurely maximize the time we have left together (I am factoring in “work-ups”, the preparation for the deployment that will mean long absences prior to the actual deployment date).
Here are four things on my micromanaging mind as we prepare for another deployment:
- Scheduling Mandatory Fun – Knowing when is enough, enough. I am trying to cram every fun trip, family visit, weekend getaway even a barbecue with friends into the free weekends we have left. <This is where I acknowledge I am getting a little out of hand – I will put down my color-coded event planner now…>. I had to take a step back and remember that weekends with NO plans and relaxing at home are often just what our family (and my spouse) needs and that micromanaging our time together is not fun for anyone.
- Determining What Big Decisions We Need to Make Now – There is no life event lock down. Should we buy a house or a car before you leave? Should we try to get pregnant before you leave? Should we PCS- or stay put until you return? Major life events don’t put themselves on hold when your significant other is gone- we have to find ways to negotiate plans or make decisions beforehand on what should or should not happen. But let’s be realistic, we do not really need to decide RIGHT NOW if we will have another baby. If you are going through a similar struggle, take the time to discuss the possibilities of a move, or home purchase (even a new car- Murphy’s Law would predict something going wrong with your vehicle)! You will feel relieved you spoke in depth about the “what ifs” before your spouse leaves and your forms of communication become very unreliable. (This is a good reminder to have the necessary Power of Attorney documents in place.)
- Party like is 1999 – Celebration Anticipation It makes me sad to think about my spouse missing our youngest daughter’s first birthday and many of the other little milestones that warrant celebration. Instead of letting the disappointment of a missing family member dampen the happy occasion, we are celebrating the kid’s birthdays, anniversaries, first days of school, and other significant milestones in advance. In addition, we will get creative and figure out a way to include my deployed spouse in the merriment- via photos, email, Skype or care packages. Making these plans takes a lot of the angst I feel about my spouse’s absence away and hopefully lessens my spouse’s regret in missing these milestones. I am ensuring my daughters are included in these discussions and plans, so the disappointment of a missing parent won’t be as difficult when they are celebrating their birthday without Dad.
- Make a List, Check it Twice – Holiday Pressure I find myself thinking, “We better make the most of this <insert holiday> because you will be gone for the next one”. If your loved one will be gone for a major holiday next year consider having a mini Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter- whatever holiday your spouse will miss. It won’t replace the real one but will give you fond memories when you are facing the holiday apart.
I don’t believe preparation will absolve all of the sadness and anxiety that can come with a spouse’s looming deployment, but I hope some of the ways I am preparing will help you and your family plan for a deployment.
Are you facing an upcoming deployment? How are you coping/planning (or are you trying to micromanage like me)?