Welcome back, readers! Thanks for bearing with my absence. The Army decided to make me play “shift the space” with our holiday plans at the last minute, so I was scrambling to have our Christmas preparations done a few days earlier than planned. As soon as K got home we visited family for a couple of days, and by the time we got back and got settled into K’s last leave, I was just exhausted and needed some real down time and not just the pretend kind. But I’m back (with a vengeance!) and planning on catching up as much as I can.
Yesterday marked the first day of our “deployed” status. Or as I will call it here, “Part 2a” (2b starts when K leaves the country). Yesterday was also the day that we have been preparing and waiting for practically since the end of his last deployment. All the major changes we made in our lives for the last few years have been made to accommodate this single and long-lasting event. At 9 in the morning—in spite of the snow storm moving through our neck of the woods—K got on a plane to head back to his pre-mobilization station for another couple months of training before he ships out overseas. We won’t see him again until he either comes home on leave sometime mid-way through the deployment, or when he gets home at the end of the deployment. So, probably 4-6 months at the earliest and 11 months at the latest. Since we have little kids I’m guessing time will speed along faster than I expect just like always.
It’s hard to describe everything I felt yesterday without a twinge of guilt. For comparison’s sake, and as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, when K left last deployment, I was more than a wreck. I’m not sure how much of that had to do with post-partum hormonal shenanigans and the tension brought on by caring for a preemie baby, but I worked myself up into such a state of anxiousness and worst-case scenario contemplation, I made myself physically ill. That, in turn, added a layer of shame and self-loathing for letting my emotions get the better of me, which then set off a frenzied undercurrent of self-doubt that I wouldn’t be able to handle everything. It has taken me a very long time to make peace with that particular feeling as it stuck with me like a barnacle for years. None of those early feelings were the best way to start a major life change, that’s for sure. In hind-sight, I couldn’t help but set myself up for failure (at least on my own terms—milage may vary with someone else’s perspective on my situation) given my complete lack of understanding of what a deployment entailed.
Our parting of the ways was so different this time. There were no tears, no drama (other than the fact that the snow plow guy showed up to clear the driveway just as our friend V came to take K to the airport causing a flurry of activity that cut into our last bit of quiet time together), no sadness, no worries, and best of all no vomiting. We made a couple of jokes, wished each other a good (safe) year, and I told K that I wanted us to find something positive in all this to make our separation worthwhile this time (and I mean to do just that). If I had to pick the major emotion of the day, I think we both felt relief that this whole thing was finally underway. Not only that, and I almost hate to say it, but I felt good. Confident and able. I’m ready. I wouldn’t say I’m excited exactly, but there are many things I’m really looking forward to this year (which I’ll share at a later date) that may not have come about if K were home. And I think K probably feels the same way about his new responsibilities for the coming year. While going to a dangerous place, he is also getting the opportunity to do some new things that really interest and excite him that he would not have been able to do had he stayed. I am also incredibly grateful that the back and forth is ending. We can get into a regular routine that won’t be interrupted every few weeks. And with the holidays over, I feel downright giddy at the prospect of some kind of new normal.
As much as I really disliked the coming and going of the last few months, I will admit that it probably helped the kids get used to K leaving as well as being gone. R was able to give him a hug and a kiss good-bye without crying either, and Monkey just murmured in his sleep. I’m sure they don’t quite grasp just how long he’ll be gone, and they will probably get hit later with missing K, but they were both great about everything. I took them to see The Princess and the Frog in the morning, and then we spent part of the afternoon outside playing in the snow (I shoveled and took pictures and they played). I got a few things done around the house, we had dinner together, and we hung out just like always when K is away. I purposely didn’t make a big deal out of our new change in status and the day passed quietly and with a few laughs even. I could not have hoped for better.
If I wish anything for us this coming year, it’s that I gain enough inner peace to compensate for the simmering anger I normally haul around, and that the kids stay as happy all year long as they were playing in the snow yesterday.