When Our Military Spouse Is Deployed…

It is difficult to make an all-inclusive list of everything that goes on in the lives of a military family during deployment and TDYs. I have read several attempts at making lists so that friends and family may better understand our perspective. Unfortunately, they all fall short of giving the full picture of our lives. My list will fall short as well. Many things on my list apply even if my husband is not deployed but when he is gone for any length of time it makes these points much more applicable. In no particular order, and with the understanding that this can’t possibly include everything, here is some things you should know about us…

We live paycheck to paycheck.

B1~Even when my husband is home, we are out of money by the end of the month. This is not because we are always careless with our money. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do my best to manage the money well. I realize that not everyone is as organized as I am but I personally have a large binder that holds all of the bills that we pay monthly. I diligently budget out where our paycheck goes… down to the penny. Inevitably, something comes up that requires money that we were not expecting to spend and our budget for the month goes out the window.

~We do tend to spend more during deployment. Usually there is a little more money coming in the paycheck. This is the time to try and catch up with the bills, to buy that extra “toy” that we haven’t been able to afford, and to treat the kids to a restaurant or activity… all before the money runs out and we are back to our normal routine.

~We also do whatever we can to help earn more money to help the finances. If we do not have a full or part-time job, we have yard sales, home businesses (Norwex, Thirty-One, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Scentsy, etc…), we babysit, do yard work, and basically will do anything we can to earn that extra cash. The money we earn ensures that we will be ok if we grab happy meals for lunch or get an extra outfit that the kids fall in love with, so our kids can do extra curricular activities, and so that every once in a while we can pay a babysitter and go run errands for a few hours without kids.

We stay busy so that we (and the kids) don’t have time to think about Daddy (or Mommy) being gone.

B5~Very few days go by that we do not have to leave the house and go somewhere. School, appointments, play dates, church services, church activities, library, pool, lessons and practices, clubs, etc. Even if we are home, we are cleaning house, making meals, having friends over, reading, watching movies, and sleeping. A full day keeps everyone distracted so that we don’t worry about Daddy or Mommy (What they are doing, How & Why they are doing it, Where they are, and When they will get at chance to call us).

~We often do things that we do not want to do for the sake of our kids. As an example, a few weeks ago, I took the girls to the BBQ on base for families with deployed family members. It is way outside of my comfort zone to interact with people I don’t know. I was the one sitting on the bench watching the kids and not talking to anyone. But, I felt it was important for the girls to play on the bouncy house and get a backpack. This gave them something to do that was a treat out of the normal routine.

We do not know when Daddy (or Mommy) is coming home.

~We may or may not know an approximate time frame. If we do, we will answer your question usually sounding like this: “Hopefully he will get back the end of August or the beginning of September. There is a chance he could be extended and have to stay a couple of months longer. You never know with the military!” There was a time that I was told 4 different changes to his return schedule within a 4 hour timeframe!

~Most of us have learned our lesson about avoiding the countdowns with the kids. One time we were told he would get back the night before Easter. So we set out the Easter baskets early and bought a cake that said “Welcome Home!” Then, I had to deal with the aftermath of telling a 2 1/2 year old why Daddy didn’t come home while she was sleeping. Never again will I tell them he is coming home until he has set foot in our town. Often, we just surprise them and let them figure it out when he walks in the door or when they wake up in the morning and find him sleeping in bed.

We do not watch the news.

~With the exception of articles I see on facebook (which I can choose to read or not read), I do not want to see what is going on in the part of the world where he is at. It is better for me not to know and not worry as much (we never stop worrying) then for me to be constantly trying to figure out what part he may or may not play in the overseas drama. He will tell me (if he can) when he gets home. If he cannot tell me, then it confirms my reasons why I don’t want to know while he is there.

We need help but there are very few people we will ask because we do not want to be a burden.

B2~Unless you are family or a friend who we absolutely consider family, we will not ask for your help. The exception is if we are paying you to do a service like babysitting, yard work, etc. We attempt to do most everything ourselves but if for some reason we can’t it is embarrassing for us to actually ask for help.

~We “save” our favors. If we know that we may need to ask a certain person for help during a deployment, we limit our requests to when we have no other option but to ask them. We do not want to overwhelm the same person with all of our potential requests.

~Even if you offer to help us, we most likely will not take you up on the offer (unless you are family or a friend who we consider family). We have found that most offers are half-hearted or completely insincere. We would rather that you do not offer at all then offer and not really mean it.

~There are a few women who act like they cannot lift a finger to do anything for themselves. These women are constantly calling their husband’s shop to demand help with everything and cause hardworking men to resent them because they insist that they be taken from their jobs & families to tend to the needy wife of their co-worker. These women give military wives a bad name but I assure you there are very few who actually fall into this category. The majority of us would only call our husband’s shop in case of emergency or something that legitimately cannot be solved without the help of a military organization (finance, family readiness, etc.).

We will help others even if we need help ourselves.

B4~This goes along with keeping busy. We often over book ourselves with activities and helping others. You may really need someone to watch your kids, carpool kids, help you with your house or yard, take care of your pets, run to the store, hang out and watch a movie, have a deep conversation about something important, etc. We will most likely do any and all of these things, even if it causes us to burn out from exhaustion, because you are our friend and we care about you.

~At any given time, WE could also need any and all of these things.

We may look like we have it all together but inside we are crumbling.

~We miss our husbands (or wives).

~We carry the fear of the unknown and the “what if’s.”

~We carry all of the stress of running a household, finances, everything that goes wrong, raising/teaching/disciplining the children, etc. because there is no way our spouse can handle any of it from afar.

B6

We are exhausted.

B3~We do not get enough sleep, we wake up frequently during the night, we do not get to sleep in. Enough said.

~Coffee (& coffee creamer), Tea, and Wine are essential to our survival. If we go to get a drink of any of these items and they are not in our kitchen, we feel like a tidal wave has engulfed our entire body. Coffee in the morning to help us wake up, coffee or tea for lunch or snack to keep us going, tea or wine to help relax us enough so we can go to sleep. All three (at different times) are essential to a great conversation with a friend, reading a good book, or soaking in a hot bath.

We take lots of photos.

~During deployment so that we can post them on facebook so our husbands (or wives) do not feel so disconnected from the family.

~Before deployment so that we might just happen to get photos like these:

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Here are some practical ways of helping us during a deployment or TDY:

~Pray for us.

~Write us an encouraging note.

~Bring us a meal… or a cup of coffee… or a bottle of wine.

~Support our home businesses if we sell something you love and spread the word to your friends!

~If we are relying on you for something, make sure that you follow through with what you said you would do for us.

~If you go by our house on trash day and our garbage is not on the curb, take a minute to stop and do it for us. We most likely completely forgot.

~Watch our kids for a day so that we can get some things accomplished without the constant interruption of kids. Or better yet, watch them for a whole night so that we can actually get some sleep.

~Recognize when we are crumbling and allow us to vent our frustrations or cry on your shoulder.

******

All photos not marked with “Heart Treasures” were found on Google Images.

“The Next Survivor Series” (Mother’s Day Series- 3)

I only have two kids and often feel the stressors of life that pop up with everyday busyness and tasks. I have known some mothers who have 3, 4, 5, or more kids that seem to have it “more together” than I do. I have no idea how they do it! They give me the courage and inspiration to know that I will get through the next 20 years 🙂 Even with all of the stressors; I absolutely would not trade parenting for the world. It is generally believed that men just don’t understand everything mothers do. I would agree but I know that this is not true of all men. Those of you men who are stay at home dads deserve more credit than people give you! In honor of Moms I would like to share this story that my friend sent me via e-mail (I do not know who originally wrote it). I admit that some of this is extreme (even for most moms) for a 6 week timeframe; but I have known moms who have had to handle all of this plus more in a short amount of time and SURVIVED 🙂
*****
THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES
Six married men will be dropped on an island;
with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.
Each kid will play two sports and take either music or dance classes.
There is no fast food.
Each man must take care of his 3 kids;
keep his assigned house clean,
correct all homework, complete science projects,
cook, do laundry, and pay a list of ‘pretend’ bills with not enough money.
In addition, each man will have to budget enough money for groceries each week.
Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives,
and send cards out on time –no emailing.
Each man must also take each child to a doctor’s appointment
a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.
He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child
to the Emergency Room.
He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a school function.
Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house,
planting flowers outside, and keeping it presentable at all times.
The men will only have access to television;
when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily,
adorn themselves with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes,
keep fingernails polished, and eyebrows groomed.
During one of the six weeks,
the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps,
backaches, headaches, have extreme, unexplained mood swings
but never once complain or slow down from other duties.
They must attend weekly school meetings and church,
and find time at least once to spend the afternoon
at the park or a similar setting.
They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning,
feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:30 am.
A test will be given at the end of the six weeks,
and each father will be required to know all of the following information:
each child’s birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size, doctor’s name,
the child’s weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor,
each child’s favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song,
favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear,
and what they want to be when they grow up.
The kids vote them off the island based on performance.
The last man wins only if…
he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment’s notice.
If the last man does win,
he can play the game over and over and over again
for the next 18-25 years,
eventually earning the right to be called:

MOTHER!

Mother’s Day Series:

My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

Mommy Brain (Mother’s Day Series-2)

NEW Page Added To Site Yesterday!

ABC Memory Verses

Mommy Brain (Mother’s Day Series-2)

Mommy Brain: having a faulty memory; the tendency to completely forget important stuff; and/or having major “blond” moments. Can also be known as “Pregnancy Brain.” (This is my definition.)

I personally do not know any mom who has never suffered from this!

(If you have not; pleeeeaaaaase let me know what your secret is :))!

Image found here


Let me give you a few examples:

  • About two months ago: I put ingredients in my crock pot to make Tapioca Pudding. Two hours later; I realized that I didn’t plug in the crock pot!
  • Last month: after church, I turned on my car to let the air conditioner cool it down while I buckled the girls into their car seats. After I finished; I sat in the car for several minutes looking around and in my purse for my keys. I was about to go back inside the church to look for them; when I realized they were already in the ignition!
  • Last week: I ran into a friend at the store. I was telling her something and mid-sentence I completely lost my train of thought. I still do not remember what I was going to say. (This happens frequently in my conversations with people).
  • Last night: I woke up (around 2 am) and realized that I DID NOT take Kendal to school yesterday! I completely FORGOT to take her! It did not even cross my mind at all that she was supposed to be at school. This is especially bad for three reasons: 1) The fact that it was Wednesday came up in my conversations frequently throughout the day (Kendal goes to preschool program M, W, F). 2) I had school on the brain all day because I was researching and planning out Kendal’s homeschooling program for her next school year. 3) At some point in the morning Kendal asked me if she was going to school (I told her no).

My message to all of you moms (and pregnant moms):

The stresses of life will come and sometimes make you think that you have completely lost your mind. But in the end the “I love you Mama!” and the cuddle times totally make up for it!

Mother’s Day Series:

My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

NEW Page Added To Site Today!

ABC Memory Verses

Related Articles (from different bloggers):

Raise Your Hand If…You Have Crazy Mom Disease

America’s Most Stressful Jobs . . . Whatever

One Of Those Days…

Have you ever had one of those days when the Devil just keeps doing whatever he can to bring you down? That has been my weekend! Things just keep going wrong and has caused my stress level to go out the window. Of course when that happens my anger control goes out the window too. My kids have heard me yell at them more in the past two days then they have in the past month. And that makes me feel like a complete failure because I have been working so hard on controlling my anger. This morning I was so stressed (because of the girl’s continuing disobedience, destructiveness to the house, fighting, and tantrums) that I just broke down and cried. Kendal (age 3) tried her best to comfort me by saying “Mama don’t be sad, don’t cry” repeatedly. It was when she said “Mama doesn’t need a binki; you are a big girl” that I was able to stop crying. I was unable to laugh out loud but inside it did something to calm me down a bit. Of course, the disobedience, destructiveness to the house, fighting, and tantrums did not stop and my stress level started to go up again. My husband after working a 12 hour overnight shift (that actually was more like 13 hours) came home and took the girls out for lunch and to the park. –Which is why I am able to sit here and write this in one sitting. I called him after they had been gone for 10 minutes and thanked him and made sure he knew that I appreciated him taking the girls away from home. After just 10 minutes of a quiet house; my stress level dropped tremendously. I still have a destroyed house (clothes, dishes, toys, etc. everywhere) and the girls will probably still be chaotic when they get back home but I have had a little time to calm myself down. *deep breath*

One of my favorite songs that really helps me to focus on what needs to change in my life is sung by a local group in Delaware. I have it playing on repeat right now! I have not been able to find a link so that you can hear it (but the lyrics are below). The group is made up of two sisters (Brenda & Christie) and together they call themselves EverAfter. Brenda was one of my youth leaders when I was in middle school & early high school. If any of you in Delaware have a chance to get their album “Listen;” I highly recommend it. (I don’t think the purchase link on their website works. I’m not sure if the album is available at The Branch or The Mustard Seed; but they may be able to find out how to get ahold of it. EverAfter played at Lamb Jam several years ago.)

Anyway, realizing that I cannot change on my own takes a lot of pressure off.

“…O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

I know that Jesus is continually working on me. I just have to continue to let him. Keeping that in mind; I will strive to keep my stress level down this afternoon when the girls return. Thank God for prayer!

“All That I Am” by EverAfter

Lord, these lips get me in trouble
So many times a day
I’m so often feeling sorry
For the careless things I say
Your word says deep inside of me
Is where the trouble starts
My mouth just overflows
With what’s already in my heart

So starting now
Starting now

Chorus:
All that I am
Is on the altar of You
Change my motivations
Change my attitude
‘Cuz I can’t change myself
But, Lord I know You can
All that I am is on the altar
So You can alter all that I am

Take this love of reputation
From this prideful heart of mine
Take out the prejudice, the arrogance
The selfishness You find
And if there’s unforgiveness
Or some long forgotten grudge
Replace it with humility
Obedience and love

Chorus

I want everything I am
To be all that You’re about
So Lord I’m asking You
To make me new
From the inside out

Chorus