We officially have fewer than 60 days before deployment, and it is suddenly becoming very real. D. has been away most of this month, training, and it is very much an eye-opening trial run for his upcoming year away. It's reminding me of all the struggles that I deal with while he's gone. It reminds me of the frustrating days when I don't hear from him, and the phone calls that get dropped mid-sentence, and most of all, the utter "alone-ness" that I feel when I have to do it all on my own.
It is typical that several things go wrong soon after he leaves. This month it has been the 5 stitches in J.'s foot, the car that desperately needs new brakes, and the deep freezer that was left open so that everything thawed and needs to be tossed. None of it has been terrible, and all fairly manageable, but they are still things that I had to deal with on my own. My worry is that someday it will be a house fire, or a major illness, or a huge repair.
The truth is that this deployment will be, in many ways, much easier than his last. It will be safer, and shorter, and we've been through it before so we know what to expect. I have more support, a job that will at times distract me, and my kids are older and more self-sufficient. (Not to mention the built-in babysitter!) We're used to this military life. I'm much more familiar with how it all works. So in those ways, this will be easier for us.
But in other ways, this one will be rougher. I'm working now, and finding balance at home and work will be harder. I have a teenaged son that is a great kid, but is still a typical teenager and often makes me want to pull my hair out. Our family is generally busier, with three kids in sports and church and school activities. But most of all, and the one that scares me the most, is that this time, I know.
This time, I know that D. and I will have weeks and months that despite both our efforts, we won't really connect. I know that I will get very used to doing things in my own time and in my own way and without really consulting anyone else. I know that he will forget a little bit what it's like to come home every day to a chaotic house where kids are fighting and dinner is cooking and things need to be done before we go to bed and start all over the next day. I know that after a year apart, he will come home and we will feel like long-lost friends that missed each other, but not really like a couple right away. We will have to get used to each other again. We will have to adjust to sleeping in the same bed. I will have to adjust the way I cook. I will have to remember to consult him again before I make plans or decisions. He will have to adjust to working all day and then coming home to a family that needs his attention. We will have to remember how it works.
There's really no way to prepare. We're spending as much time together as possible. We're talking about decisions that will need to be made. We're trying to get the kids to open up about how they're feeling. We're doing what we can. But really, there's no way to prepare.
I love being an Army wife. I love that my kids' daddy is a hero. I love knowing that we're doing our part for our country. But right now, our reality is a little more "real" than we would like.