Aside from the obvious daily FRG email reminders and endless family picnics and ceremonies, there are many more subtle signs that precede this event. Here are a few that I have noticed …
#1 You suddenly are in teenager puppy-love mode all over again. You don’t want to spend time apart. You plan date nights or new activities for every weekend. You hug each other every time you walk by, you kiss a few more times than is needed. It’s like you are stock-piling all the mushy-gushy love that you can before your significant other has to leave. “Ok, how about 3 more kisses…if we do that everytime we kiss for the next 2 months, I think we’ll have saved up enough extra kisses to last the year…”
#2 At the same time, every little pet peeve starts to really make your blood boil. On the flip side of puppy-love mode, those little things that bother you about your significant other start to really get to you. Beer cans left out on that table you just cleaned? Ugh, not going to miss that! It’s like your subconscious is trying to convince you that them leaving has a positive side. Or maybe you are at the store to buy a new lock for a door. Your idea to go for the simpler lock leads your husband to determine , “Well you must just want to be murdered while I’m gone.” Thanks, hubby, that’s exactly what I wanted to hear about my choice in door locks before you leave me alone for a year. In his mind, if I put 16 locks on the door, it’s one less thing he has to worry about while he’s gone…in my world, I want the least amount of hassle so I can run the house effectively and get things done quickly while he’s gone since I won’t have the extra help. These little disagreements and differences in perception can lead to some big, if not seemingly silly, arguments. Don’t say anything you will regret when they leave! You want to keep these last few weeks relatively positive. Speaking of which…
#3 You start calling out sick. “If I got a migraine today, I could leave early enough to make him a nice dinner after training!”, “You get out early tomorrow? I bet I could call out of my internship, it’s not like I’ll be doing THAT much today…” Who can blame you? You want to spend as much time as possible together before he leaves for a year, why not take some time off. Or maybe you are calling off on the days he isn’t even home? Sometimes you need down time for yourself. You try to stay strong around him so much and let him know you will be fine with him gone, but everyone needs some time to sulk around in their PJs, go on some military spouse forums, eat junk food, watch Army Wives, and cry.
Image from mygloss.com
#4 You actually get sick. With all the stress, the lack of sleep from staying up worrying about everything under the sun, and general anxiety about life, you very well might have an excuse for those days you called out of work. Upset stomachs, migraines, anxiety attacks, colds caused by a weak immune system and exhaustion, you might feel like you are going crazy “worrying yourself sick”. But let’s remember something important, you are sending your spouse off halfway across the world to a war zone…you have the right to feel angry, stressed, and overwhelmed. At the same time, you need to remember to keep yourself healthy and happy even though it’s hard. Take a step back, focus on yourself for a day or two, pamper yourself a bit, sleep in, and focus on feeling better. You are no good to yourself or your spouse if you are sick and miserable.
#5 Paperwork gets plentiful…and depressing. So many forms to fill out! Health insurance forms, housing allowances, budgets, DEERS papers, does it ever end? Oh, and, by the way, the office you need to go to fill these things out? It’s only open for the convenient hours of 1:30-4pm today. Really? I thought the Army was supposed to be super organized and keep regular hours? Hahaha. And let’s not get started on filling out the will and the life insurance papers…I really needed that reminder that my spouse is going off to a dangerous war zone, thanks.
Image from homefrontunited
#6 People start asking, “Is he gone yet?”, “How long will he be gone for?”, “How do you deal with being separated that long?” People who you don’t see all that often, but know your spouse is deploying will use every time they see you as an opportunity to ask if your spouse is gone yet. Yes, they mean well, they are just interested in your life and want to offer support…but the daily reminders and having to go through the whole explanation over and over again do not make your life much easier. I’ve also heard of military spouses complaining that friends say things like, “Oh I know how hard that must be, my husband travels all the time for business.” Again, well-intentioned but not well thought-out. I’m pretty sure your husband’s real estate convention and weeklong stay at the Ramada in Phoneix are just as taxing on both of you as my husband’s 9 months in Afghanistan, thanks so much for your support!
But I think the worse comments are the people who ask about fidelity. “I could never trust my husband being gone that long with no contact.” Or “How do you do it? Don’t you get lonely?” I don’t know I just deal. What was that? You could never do that? You’d get too lonely? Well, I’d guess that’s why you didn’t marry a military man. Do I get lonely? Um…yes… Why don’t I cheat? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought mature adults were married because they loved their spouse and wanted to be with them and only them for forever. Being MARRIED means you are in this for the long haul, you want each other and each other ONLY. If that’s not how your marriage is, I’m sorry. If you don’t understand how I live this way and deal with being lonely because I live for the phone calls and emails and the dreams of the day he comes home, then I pity you, you obviously don’t know what love is.
#7 You start stockpiling…groceries, chores, supplies…like you live on a prairie in the 1800s or something. Knowing my daily schedule is about to get a lot crazier, and I won’t have my partner in crime to help with all the daily chores, I start to stock up on everything. Let’s go to the store and buy 10 cans of chickpeas, 20 bags of frozen veggies, and enough chocolate to last me through the year! Are we out of lightbulbs? Let’s buy the 50-pack…what if a light goes out when you’re gone? How about that 100-pack of paper towels…and shampoo! What if I run out and there’s no one to get it for me while I’m at work! MUST BUY NOW!
Or the flipside…when you mention that a wood burning stove might help you keep down heating costs, your husband orders THREE TREES worth of wood that get dumped in the yard and needs chopped. You then need to spend weeks chopping wood and building a shed together, getting in countless fights over the loss of half of your yard to the new lumber yard you have created. He just wants to make sure you are warm for the winter! Gosh!
Trader Joe’s is the BEST place to stockpile from…Image From loveveggiesyoga
#8 You stop watching scary movies, scary TV shows, the news, Law and Order, etc. Listen, I’m going to be alone in this big house for the next 10-11 months. If I keep up with our normal schedule of watching The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds, I’m not going to sleep for those 10-11 months. When you’re alone every little noise becomes a matter of “There is a serial killer picking the lock to the front door, grab the baseball bat!!!” The less scary things I watch, the more likely I am to only have these thoughts once or twice before I fall asleep.
#9 Military Spouse Support Forums are like drugs. They are the first thing you check in the morning, you spend your time creating new friendships with random other military spouses around the world, you complain about deployment readiness tasks, limited communications during deployments, unexpected trainings, relationship issues, recipes, house keeping tips, etc. You share ideas for ridiculously craft care packages, including recipes for Cake in a Jar, and how to wrap the INSIDE of a box for a Christmas or birthday gift, keeping with the inconspicuous mailing box rules.
#10 You live every day like they deploy tomorrow. In the months and weeks and days leading up to the deployment, you attempt to find that balance between keeping life as usual and making the most of every moment. I’ve always liked the quote “Live every day like he deploys tomorrow” because it shows the importance of valuing every day no matter what. Even though the stress will create stupid fights, and you will find yourself trying to distance yourself while at the same time being clingy and overly emotional, the key is to live every day with love and gratitude. Loving each other, grateful for your time together, and hopeful for their safe return.
I can’t wait until our next homecoming!