Friday, August 9, 2013

My Arch Nemesis and Other Deployment Ordeals

Big Red 1--Fighting Eagle Battalion
It's finally here! The deployment we've been planning for (and dreading) since January kicked off earlier this week, when the Fighting Eagles said their goodbyes to friends and family and headed out to the sandbox. 

Because getting between Ft. Riley and Houston is difficult (not to mention expensive!), we opted to say our own goodbyes at home, rather than going with Jake back to Kansas. So we were not there for the Deployment Ceremony like so many other families. Fortunately, my FRG Leader sent pictures so we could see the final formation.

B Co. Deployment Ceremony--Photo by Katy Jenkins

So how are we handling things so far? The answer is something of a mixed bag.

The truth is, we are used to being apart. We are a remote family, and we have had to learn how to be "together" apart along the way. Virtual chat (of various kinds) is already a staple in our household. The only big difference is that Jake and I can't text each other dozens of times a day; fortunately that is not an adjustment that Howie has to deal with. Generally speaking, we handle short-term separation well. And short-term in 2013 has meant seeing each other bi-weekly. 

It's usually not until that second Friday that Howie starts asking about daddy, and I start really missing my partner.  Honestly, I think my brain hasn't quite caught up to this either. I probably won't feel the full impact of deployment until our usual separation period is in the rear view mirror. And I anticipated having a solid ten days to collect myself before Howie required explanation.

But this time it was different for him. This time, Howie started asking about his daddy right away. "Will we see daddy tomorrow?" "Is daddy having dinner with us?" "Will daddy be home in a little bit?" It really caught me by surprise, and it made me start wondering, what's causing this?

It wasn't the tearier-than-usual goodbyes (and by that, I mean Howie saw his dad cry for the first time). It wasn't the appearance of a new daddy doll in Howie's bed (he LOVES it, talks to it like they're old friends, just the way he talks to his actual Daddy). It wasn't even the cessation of "Daddy Weeks" and return to his regular schedule.

No, the thing conspiring against me in my efforts to delay toddler heartache was something it did not even occur to me had anything to do with my son: a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta. 

Daddy's car. The only time Daddy's car is ever in Houston, it is because he drove it there from somewhere else. And every time my three-year-old sees it sitting in front of the house, he thinks Daddy has come home, and gets confused when he learns that's not the case.

I know this will pass. Howie will see the car in the driveway enough days in a row and it will sink in. But that's kind of heartbreaking in and of itself. I told Jake I'd drive it once a week while he was gone so it's not just sitting there. But judging by how my little man's face lights up at the idea of driving Daddy's car, it might be more than that. 

Aside from the vehicular hiccup, we seem to be doing OK. Last weekend Howie and I had a breakfast date to the Movie Tavern for pancakes and Smurfs 2 (very cute!). He talked about it for hours. Then he asked if we could have a dinner date too, "Like Superman and Lois Mommy!" Hm. I'll have to explain the difference between a date and a mommy date at some point. But that's a problem for another day. All in all, Howie is handling things well so far.

And I'm OK too. Lots of our friends have checked in on me, which is really sweet. Writing for Blue Star Families helps too. I would write about the experience either way, but with BSF I have a fixed schedule. I have to write, even in the times when I might otherwise tell myself "eh, don't worry about it this week." And it's cathartic for me. It's like dragging myself to church when I don't really want to go. I may grumble, but I always leave feeling much better when I do; because I needed it.

Between writing, work and MSJDN, I have plenty to keep me busy, and more every day it seems like. Unfortunately, the thing that will keep me busy next week is Murphy's Law of Deployment. 

Apparently, the inanimate objects in our life decided to wait until Jake was gone to revolt. The air conditioner decided to go wonky; the washer is not working quite right; the (other) car is starting rougher than it should. I'm hoping these things will be easy to fix. 

On the other hand, this may be the universe telling me to stop asking for more things to keep me busy. If so, message received!!

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1 comment:

  1. I stumbled across your blog and I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I am not a military spouse so I cannot even imagine having my husband leave for a deployment. You are a remarkable person for being able to do it. Thanks to your husband and all other military men and women for serving to protect our freedom!