Monday, April 26, 2010

I just called to say...

I love you. That old Stevie Wonder song is my ring tone for my husband. Getting a phone call or email from him is exciting. When I see an unread message from him on my email my heart jumps a little bit. Our phone calls are usually planned due to the limited phone connection he has out to sea, but I still look forward to those phone calls.

As difficult as it is now, can you imagine what life must have been like for military spouses before email came along, and before phones were common place? I have said it before and I'll say it again. I could never be a spouse of a service member back then. Call me a wimp if you will, but communication is a huge part of my needs as a woman. Fortunately, my husband feels the same way (although, man!) and he is lucky to be in a position where he has access to a computer on a regular basis.

In "These Boots: A spouse's guide to stepping up and standing tall during deployment," military life consultant Jacey Eckhart talks about the importance of setting up expectations for communication while your spouse is deployed. I couldn't agree with her more. This is one of the ways Aaron and I keep the peace while he is gone.

Now, on a more personal level, something that's been on my mind today. Our son will be turning the big 3 later this week. Even though we knew this was coming, unavoidable, to say the least, and even though we celebrated earlier in the month all together, I am still a little sad. This will be the first of many things he will be missing over the next year, but I am dealing. My son is too young to understand, or at least not think about it to much. But he knows his Daddy loves him more then words can say. And that has to be enough.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

And then there's this

We've had some bumps this last week.
It's setting in for all three of us that Aaron is going to be gone for a while.
Don't be confused. He is not gone yet. He is currently in training away from home. Every military wife knows that at some point before a deployment her love will undergo some kind of training. So, in addition to the "however many months they are gone for deployment," the solider/sailor/airman/marine undergoes training which also is done away from the family.

My daughter has been throwing massive fits this week. I ask her to do one thing and she explodes, screaming, yelling, crying, angry. I always joke that she's five going on sixteen. It makes me sad. Wednesday night she just cried in her room, "I want Daddy back! I want Daddy back!" It stings a little bit, but I try very hard not to take it personally. I really wanted to lie down and just cry with her but it is my job to hold it all together around here. I held her on my lap and told her, "I know you miss Daddy. I miss Daddy too. But while he's gone we're still a family and we need to work together and love each other." I was convinced we were on our way to harmony but she woke up and threw another fit.

Things have been fairly peaceful around here since then, but again, it's all a reminder of what we're going through and what is yet to come. I met our new veterinarian yesterday and she thanked me for my service. Another blink back tears moment for me. This is hard, and it's only going to get harder.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Phase I Begins

I like to call this part Phase 1.
We begin our countdown to our next deployment. Which involves me getting mentally prepared for what is to come. I've never dealt well with change. I always internalize it until it manifests itself into negative thinking and depression.

I have to find outlets for this negativity. A huge source of stress relief for me is going to the gym. Every time I think I can cope without a gym membership it always comes back to haunt me. I get agitated if I don't have a way to deal.
Going to the gym is my prayer time. It's my peace and quiet. I drop my son off at the child care area, and proceed to the cardio room. I turn on my music/podcast/radio and let the whole world drift away. I'm not a work out junkie or anything like that. Far from it, in fact, I hate working out. But when he's gone it's the only weekly time I get to myself. So it's worth it, to me at least.

I digressed! Mentally preparing for a deployment, for me, involves acceptance. To accept the fact that I cannot change it and that I will have to cope with lonely days and nights. To be able to reach down inside myself and summon strength that I'm not sure is there.

I reached this point just about one week ago. As my husband and I turned in for the night, it hit me that soon our bed would transform from being a spot of warmth and comfort to being a cold, empty piece of furniture. I began to cry. I couldn't even stop the tears from falling. My husband held me as I cried. The reality has set in. Deployment is coming and neither of us can stop it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Into This Mess Part 4

In January of 2008, after we moved from San Diego to Washington, Ahron left for an advanced school back in Maryland, while I held down the fort (finally out of an apartment and into a rental house). He finished his school with honors on our son's first birthday and flew home to be with us for the party.

We knew after his school he'd be flying out to meet his ship in the Persian Gulf. During this time, my parents and family were a huge source of support. I stayed very busy through the summer and we were reunited in October.

At that time we also decided to make the move closer to base, so we could actually all live together while Ahron's ship was in port. That first deployment was the precursor to our current reality. In many ways, it set us up for what is about to come. In 2008, we spent a total of about 8.5 months apart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Into This Mess Part 3

In the beginning, it was a friendship. We had so much in common. We'd talk late into the night about our past, our goals, our future. By April we admitted feelings for each other and began dating. By July, we were exclusive. By September, we had to say good-bye. My orders sent me to Guam, while his took him to San Diego.

The Navy told us we needed to get married if we wanted to be stationed together. We threw caution to the wind and took the plunge. We were married on a breezy October day in 2002.

From that point forward, everything was a whirlwind. I moved to San Diego in 2003. Ahron was sent to shore duty. Shore duty is different from sea duty, because you don't deploy. It's like a regular, daily job with consistent hours. That was a huge blessing for us as baby #1, our daughter, arrived, and then two and a half years later, baby #2, our son, completed our family.

My time in the Navy was over and I transitioned into a supporting role for my husband. The adjustment period of getting discharged had ups and downs. On one hand I was thrilled to be able to stay home with the children. On the other had, we lost an entire income. I also needed to reform my identity from an active duty sailor to a wife and mother, without losing interest in my own passions.

A little over two years after I left the Navy to take on the supporting role of a Navy wife, Ahron's time came to an end on shore duty and he needed to return to a ship. After going back and forth a bit, we chose to be stationed on an aircraft carrier in Washington. That way, when he did deploy again, I'd be close to family.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Into This Mess Part 2

Shawn arrived at my house on a Saturday afternoon to meet with me. He brought his Cruise Book. I flipped through the glossy pages of what resembled my high school yearbooks. Liberty port photo layouts jumped off the page. The book sealed the deal. I would join the Navy after high school ended.

In the last hours of September 26, 2000, I set foot onto the cold concrete that is the Navy's only recruit training command (RTC) in Great Lakes, Illinois. My exuberance for writing and reporting had landed me a spot at the Navy's Defense Information School. After the grueling two and a half months known as basic, I would head to Fort Meade, Maryland.

Fort Meade was a nice change of pace from the chilling fall wind that seemed to compliment the city of Great Lakes. I arrived on a Thursday three weeks before Christmas, and I would start school the following Monday.

My plan was to focus solely on school work, and to begin looking into colleges since that was one of the biggest benefits offered to those who joined the military. I remember telling my grandmother of this plan, and assuring her I was not interested in dating anyone. I felt brave enough to withstand the distractions that dating and relationships brought. Then I met Ahron, and my whole entire plan was thrown for a loop.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

How We Got Into This In The First Place

I often think about the events that lead me to this place. My place is a difficult spot to be, but I am not alone.

My journey starts in a small city just over the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington State. I spent my the entirety of my first 18 years there. Never traveled out of state, never flew on an airplane or spent summers in Hawaii/Mexico like some of my peers. Not that I minded. I was perfectly content to live in my little bubble.

At the dawn of my senior year I began to notice that many of my friends were beginning to map out their futures by applying and getting accepted to colleges. Some had plans to attend the community college. Some had plans to work after high school. This led to confusion on my part. College was not something I foresaw for myself. I felt like I needed a break from everything a higher education and the classroom setting offered.

One of my older cousins was joining the Navy. I didn't know anything about any of the military branches at that point. Clueless was the way I would describe it. It seemed exotic, in a way. It seemed heroic. I imagined her on the deck of an aircraft carrier walking around like Amelia Earhart, a woman in history I had always been fascinated with.

Somehow, word got back to the local recruiter and before I even knew what was really going on, a Navy recruiter named Shawn had called to arrange a visit to my house to meet me.

To Be Continued!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I've started this blog as a way of recording the ups and downs of a military family before, during and after deployment. It will be cathartic for me, and hopefully interesting for anyone who stumbles upon this.
It is my full intention to maintain the Navy's operational security, as well as my own family's privacy, so I will be vague about some details, to protect those who protect us.

This will be our third deployment together as a married couple, our second with children. Each deployment comes with its own set of challenges. Every family is different, and I can only speak for my own. It should be an interesting journey.