Real Life: Managing a Deployment
When my husband Curt joined the Air National Guard a few years ago, we knew that being deployed was a possibility.
Being a Navy veteran, Curt had been on multiple deployments. His last Navy deployment, a little over six months long, started just a few days after we met.
Even though an Air Guard deployment might have always been a possibility, to me it was always a far off distant possibility. A few weeks ago, that distant possibility became my life.
A lot has changed since that first deployment ten years ago. I am no longer the fresh-out-of-college girl living in a rental house with a roommate and no responsibilities.
I am now the home-owning, two-big-dogs-and-a-two-year-old-son-raising grown-up.
From the outside (unless you were in my neighborhood that Tuesday night), it might seem like I’m managing well. Maybe I am. But with too much to do, and not enough time to do it, it doesn’t feel that way.
So what was that about that Tuesday night? That was the night I watered the flowers (which I’m sure are now dead).
I also watered the dogs and my son, P. They love to be sprayed with (and drink from) the water hose, and since it’s been around 100 degrees for the last few weeks, I am happy to spray them down.
Then I needed to put the hose away. The hose reel is on the side of the house, which is outside the fenced portion of the yard.
When I opened the gate to let P through, Stew, my boy Boxer, bolted out the gate and started running amuck in the neighborhood.
He was running around barking at, sniffing and licking all of neighbors’ dogs, and not listening to me. Since it’s not good to have a loose dog running around, I got P and went to try to corral Stew.
Of course, P was still soaked, and muddy and carrying him got me soaked, and muddy. So I was soaked, muddy and running around the neighborhood yelling at my dog like a crazy person. At least it ended well. I finally managed to get Stew back in the fence, and after a nice bath and some clean clothes, P and I were back to normal again.
Most of the struggles are a little more routine than that one incident. I have always been the one in the house that does most of the cooking and cleaning, but when Curt was home he was playing with P and the dogs so that I could cook and clean.
Now I have to juggle the cooking, cleaning, dog-watching and kid-playing all at the same time. This means that there are many nights where at least one of those things gets somewhat neglected.
Usually it’s the cleaning.
I am now also the chief spider-killer, trash-taker-outer, aluminum can crusher, dog-feeder and P’s after-bath diaper and pajama parent: all jobs that Curt does when he’s home.
Fortunately I am able to pay someone to mow the lawn and have someone come twice a month to do the deep cleaning. Otherwise, I would also be the head lawn mower and toilet scrubber.
Unfortunately I don’t have someone to come fill up P’s milk if he runs out when he’s almost asleep and I’m rocking him at bedtime.
There’s no one else to let the dogs out or rock P for an hour in the middle of the night.
No one can keep an eye on P while he eats or bathes so I can start a load of laundry or load the dishwasher.
I have family and friends that live close, and they help out a lot. But, they aren’t there at the end of the day when I did not get enough sleep the night before, I had a hard day at work, I have a toddler who needs to be fed and wants to play and read books, and I have dogs that need exercise because they have been cooped up all day.
I’m exhausted, overwhelmed and forgetful. I do things like end up at the gym with two right shoes or no socks, or don’t end up at the gym at all.
Even though it’s hard, being the only parent all the time does have its rewards.
I can watch what I want. We can have chicken every night for a week, or we can have meals with all veggies.
I get all the snuggles, hugs, kisses and doggie slobbers that get passed out. And even though P’s routine has been upset, he still loves my husband and me both, and has learned to say, “I hoppy,” (happy).
Regardless of how everything else goes, him being happy makes it all worthwhile.
Being separated is tough on a family. P cries more than usual and wants to be snuggled and rocked more. The dogs aren’t eating their normal amount and they are playing less.
But we will manage, and in just three months Curt will be home.