Monday, October 1, 2012

missing papa

Over two weeks ago, Fletcher helped Brian pack up all his gear for a two week training mission.  Tonight he comes home!  We've missed him.  A lot.  We all show our missing Papa a little differently around here.  I might snap a little bit more at the littles.  My patience gets fragile.  I feel easily frustrated.  Fletcher gets teary and cries at the drop of a hat.  And then there's Rowan.  She is solidly in the doldrums of the terrible twos.  Oh boy, can she throw a tantrum.  The screams.  The screams.  And God bless my parents, they came to enjoy all our wonderful moods!  And to help out.  Without them, we would all have been a screaming, sobbing mess. 

So what I want you to know is that while our military men and women are the deserved public heroes, the family that stays behind are the unsung heroes.  I'm not trying to tell you that I am personally a hero.  I am not.  I just do the best that I can.  But as a group, every military spouse left behind, every child missing their parent for 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, is heroic just by virtue of getting by without a vital part of their family for so long.  My heart breaks a little for everyone going through a deployment.  Our country has been at war for eleven years now. That means that next year, a whole generation of children that have been in school from kindergarten through graduation will have only known a country at war.  And so twelve years means many, many deployments.  And many, many families left behind.

These two weeks are just a fraction of what's to come.  Two weeks now, a month a little bit later, and then who knows how long coming at some point.

So for you civilians.  I have a few pointers and requests on behalf of the families left behind.

Helpful: Offer to babysit.  Then insist when we don't take you up on your offer.  Bring a dinner sometime.  Call before you go to the store and see if we need something while you're going.  Just check in.  Text, email, call.  Let us know you're there if we really need something.  We don't want to need help, and we will try not to take it, but we do need it.

Not helpful:  Telling us, "I could never do that."  Or, "I don't know how you can do it."  And any variation on that theme.  I know you think you're being nice.  It's not nice.  It makes us feel like we've chosen a lesser life that normal people would never chose.  Also, do not compare our spouse's deployment to your spouse's business trip.  (This doesn't apply to training, of course)  Unless your spouse is in mortal danger on his/her business trip, there is no comparison.  It is not only about missing them, or the hardships of having them gone.  It is also about fearing for their lives.  Every. Second. They are deployed. 

Ok, I'm off my soapbox.  It all comes from a place of love for all the support I am given when Brian is away.  I know I'm extra lucky in that, and there are plenty of families that don't get the same support and help. 


  1. Oh, I know that must be tough but it's great that your parent's were able to help out... and especially that it's almost over! I know that even when James has a deadline and comes home night after night when we're asleep and leaves before we wake up it is tough on me- but of course not at all as challenging as him actually being gone or not reachable by telephone.

    Good work to all of you for making it through this one and hope the next is far far away!

  2. Lovely post! Good to remember the families (especially after such a long war)-- & enjoy the homecoming!

  3. I'm so glad that you have your parents to help you. Sometimes, as we moms know, when the children are small you need a moment to yourself to recuperate now and then. I hope you have had some opportunities over the two weeks! BTW, judging from the "hanging" hug, I would say Brian went away with a sore neck.

  4. So glad he's coming home tonight! Enjoy your family time this week! And thanks for the tips on what NOT to do. I know I'm guilty of saying "I don't know how you can do it!". I never thought about it not being the right thing to say. This was very well said!

  5. Good post sweetie - and hold on to something now (or maybe you just should sit down); I´VE FINALLY PLACED THE PACKAGE IN THE MAIL..! :-D Yep, one could easily have thought that this day would never come, and I have no freaking clue of how I managed to forget/misplace it for so long, I can just blame my over heated brain. But now I´ve began to work part time and already my thoughts feel clearer. :-)

    Hopefully you´ll have it within a week, fingers crossed! :-)

  6. Wish I lived closer... Thank goodness for telephones! xoxo

  7. Yay for the return of Papa!
    And I'm feeling quite blessed and truly fortunate that I get the pleasure of your company soon. I will take extra good care of you and take you to the places that are like an hour away from your current home. Like Starbucks. Get ready. :)

  8. I was a military wife for 25 years. Their deployments sucked specially when little kids are involved. My advice to you is" never" change the house rules.If they act up remind them that this is the same rules that daddy has agreed on and we are all doing our best while he is gone.( Now as you have teenagers in the house the rules have to change a small amount but don't change them to much or in the dads return it makes it hard on them having been gone.) Don't be afraid to ask for that babysitting you need, tell them it has to be out of their kindness. Civilians are dumb to all that it takes to be a military wife and mother. Just like in the time of someones death people say dumb things and that will never change. When they say something like that ask them to help you with something or reply -for your freedom we do our best to serve this country. Thank them for their concern and move on. People can get you down so stay with those that love you most and want to help. My husband was away half of our youngest sons life. He's now an officer in the Air Force and expecting his first child. He thanks me many times for staying loving,firm and Godly while I did the military wife job. If you have a bad day HAVE IT for tomorrow is new. Love a retired military wife

  9. I loved your courage to ask in this post! I remember someone sharing something similar (but maybe in a less helpful and polite way) a few years ago when she was confronted by her neighbors to take down their Christmas lights in March. She had two littles and her husband had been gone for a few months and I just felt her exasperation. It's stuck with me and felt affirming now that I know a bit of what that can feel like.

    Anyway, I liked this. I also think it's truly helpful for those who maybe just don't realize they can be helpful if they want or hurtful without knowing. LOVED it.

  10. I just found your blog via Rachel Denbow's and just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you and your family. My SO is retired from the Army due to PTSD and a lot of other issues stemming from Iraq. We weren't together when he was deployed and I can only imagine what it's like going through them being away. We've been separated a few times when Jake was in the psych ward dealing with PTSD and medication changes (it's really dangerous to change psych meds without supervision) and it was hard and people just don't get it. I just wanted you to know I'm sending you some solidarity and support and TONS of good vibes.


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