Today's post is from Kathryn at My Life as a Reserve Army Wife.
I was excited to get her perspective since we're both Reserve wives,
which often adds a different dimension to these times away. She's also a mama to two,
and talks all about the different ways she's handled her husband's absences
with lots of practical tips. I'm glad to glean some ideas and hope you can, too.
Nothing can prepare you for your military spouse leaving. Whether it’s for a deployment or just a training; you never know what you are capable of handling until you are in the middle of it.
I know I could not have survived my husband going to EBOLC or his deployment without my mother, my biffle, and my best army wife friend. They were my rocks. When I needed to scream, vent, cry or just have a break from being alone, they were there. There aren't words to describe how valuable these people were to me during these times.
From playdates to fighting off woodpeckers, to Olive Garden dates, hospitals, giving birth and everything in between they helped to keep my sanity in check.
I think one of the hardest things was to try and explain to our 2 year old where daddy was and why he wasn’t home. He had been away on a lot of trainings before his deployment so our son was used to seeing daddy home for a little bit, then gone, but he always came home again soon. Once that time frame was up in his mind, it was hard to explain why daddy couldn’t come home. We had decided to tell him that daddy was “at work, playing army” and that he would be home as soon as he was done. Generally that calmed him down and satisfied him. It was the nights he was sick and only wanted daddy that were the hardest. The trying to decide how to help make him feel better and if you should call off work the next day; those decisions are hard when you have no one to bounce ideas off of. What I found that worked the best was when our son was missing daddy more than normal, he was allowed to sleep in our bed, on daddy’s side. I think that helped him feel closer to him. Also, having him talk to daddy on Skype always helped.
It’s amazing, there are decisions you will make while your spouse is gone that you don’t even have to think about. Like the order in which to get the kids dressed, or what do to with the baby while you are taking a shower (her bouncy seat worked wonders for us), and then there are the other ones where there isn’t such a clear answer and you have to do the best you can. But I think as long as you can have a good support system and trust in yourself and your gut, you can do anything. It’s amazing what a person can go through and survive.
I also found that if you don’t focus on the end, it makes things a little easier. Counting down days never helped me. It actually made it worse. I also found that planning at least one outing a week, or more, helped to get everyone excited and out of the house. Granted there were days I was cursing myself for leaving and of course there were days I was just plain cursing at everything. But you know what, you go to bed that day and when you wake up, it’s a new day and a new start. You will always be faced with obstacles, but it’s how you handle them that makes you strong. If you are able to get out of bed each morning, have a plan, and when the going gets tough put on your big girl panties and deal with it the best way you know how. I also found making time for myself, whether it was to go grocery shopping alone or out to dinner with friends, those times are much needed. You need to take care of yourself too. Remember, you can do this; you just have to put your mind to it.
On the more practical side; we made sure that everything my husband did around the house we had a plan for it to be completed. For example; he’s in charge of mowing the grass, so we found a neighbor who needed some work and was willing to mow our lawn when he did his own. It was a perfect situation. We also set up delivery for our salt for our water softener, we have well water and with being pregnant, I wasn't allowed to lift that much.
In regards to money, we talked about how much we wanted to save and discussed any big purchases before they were made.
I think having all of these “little” things helped from making them into big things later on. I think it also helped to relieve some of the stress off of both of us.
I just think also being open and honest with each other about our expectations and what was important to us really helped. We knew where each other stood and I was able to make decisions at home with confidence.
The main thing is communication. I know it gets crazy as the time slips away quickly, but you must make the time to talk and know where each other stands and how things will get done at home. It is important for both of you.
Just remember, if you communicate and support each other, this time apart won’t be too bad; because we all know any time apart sucks.