Jason has been home 9 months. We’re finally, sweetly, readjusted back to being us. We’re back to the normal swing of things, to include the NY Mets on my TV more than I care to admit, or watch. Everything has been swimming along, well, swimmingly, until I looked at the calendar.
He’s half way through our break.
Yes, he’s been home 9 months, but in 9 months (give or take… it is the army), he leaves again. It’s not like this comes as a shock. Honestly, we knew when he was due to leave again before he even came home from this last deployment. And no, our story is not unique. I thought I was doing pretty well with it until he came home with his training dates. Then I started to really look at our calendar, and a sense of panic came over me. Out came the pad and paper, and suddenly, I was keeping score. Family vs. Army. Out of the next two years, between training and deployment, we have 6 months with Jason. Let’s check that again… Army:18 Family:6. It seems like the dirty mistress really is winning this battle.
We are staring deployment number four in the face. How did we get here again so soon? The truth is, this is where we live, constantly struggling to reintegrate just to be put through the wringer again. Every deployment, we come through stronger, unscathed, watching others collapse around us. After this round, three of our couple-friends filed for divorce. Truth is, I understand it. I would never leave Jason. All of my happiness is wrapped up in him, our marriage, and our family. I truly married the one I couldn’t live without. However, I also understand why the women are leaving. If I could ask one thing of the Army, it would be this: Will you continue to break us until we shatter?
Suddenly, I’m taken back to two years ago, when I asked him how many times we could do this before our marriage fell apart, and Jason responded, “Infinity.” He and I both know that we can handle whatever storms come our way.
Spare me the “this is what you signed up for” talk. Believe me, after ten years of marriage, I’m well aware of what our life is. But for some reason, this time, it feels different. There’s no sense of “yeah, I got this.” There’s no hardened resolve. There’s just an overwhelming sadness, that I’m watching the boys’ lives slip by while we wait. We wait for him to go, we wait for him to come back. We wait for orders, we wait to PCS. We wait to stop waiting. So yes, I know what this means, and I accept our lives, the good and the bad. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t royally suck some days. As I tell my girlfriends, today, I will embrace the suckage. Tomorrow, I will kick butt.
I thought maybe I was alone in this, overreacting to a typical army situation, but as usual, my fellow Fox-wives seem to validate my crazy. They’re feeling the same. How can we just be getting back to normal, and it’s gear-up time again? Eighteen months of dwell time is honestly generous for this optempo army, and yet it feels like no time at all once schools and training are considered. This is just the longest mid-tour ever.
I suppose there are different ways to handle this. I can be angry. Okay, maybe I am a little angry, and a little resentful. Aaron quietly said to me, “I wish he didn’t have to keep going,” and that was just for the 6 week TDY he has coming up. I’m not sure I can take that look in their eyes when he deploys again. Oh, who am I kidding. It’s not like there’s a choice there. That look will come, and it will be accompanied by tears and an understanding hug. Then we’ll truck on.
Right or wrong, here’s how I’m dealing with this. Jason leaves soon for a 6 week TDY, then he’s home less than a month before heading out again, and so the pattern continues until right before he deploys. So, the kids and I are getting into mode now, and not waiting for 9 months to come around and leave us floundering, struggling to adapt between when he’s here and when he isn’t. My request to Jason was pretty simple: for the random weeks when he’s home, he’s going to adapt to our schedule and not the other way around. Our kids thrive on routine and met expectations, so that’s what I’m going to give them, and myself. When he’s here, we’ll love him, and when he’s gone, we’ll miss him, but we’re going to rock this time like deployment rock stars. Maybe I’m trying to assert control where I have none, or maybe I’m just trying to deal with what’s in front of me. Either way, I can’t sit around, mope and feel sorry for our situation all day for the next two years. That’s not me. So today, I embrace the suckage, and tomorrow I kick butt.
Maybe that’s something as wives that we have to understand. We’re the ones anchoring these homes and these families. It’s up to us to keep it together, to do our best so the guys can do the jobs they deploy for. We can whine, we can cry, we can bite our lip when those stupid homecoming shows come on. But you know what? At the end of the day, this is our life too, so maybe instead of being so overwhelmingly sad, we should be finding ways to carve out our own pieces of it. The army owns him, but no one owns YOU. The army makes him deploy, but the army cannot make us a useless mopey mess. I refuse. I can be sad and angry for the next two years, or I can find a way to handle it gracefully. I choose grace. Grace, and Jason. Always Jason.
So bring on the gear-up. I may be angry, I may be sad, but I am also strong. Neither of us will let this break, so we will never shatter.
To infinity, baby.