Letter To My Daughter

Homecoming has come and gone. Our family is once again complete! This post is a letter I began to write to my oldest daughter prior to homecoming. My husband and I decided to keep homecoming a surprise from her and her little sister – and although it was difficult, it was well worth it. I wanted to share here the letter I intend on giving my daughter one day – she is my everything and I hope with all she has gone through in her little life’s years, she never not knows that.

Dearest Daughter,

Today your daddy is coming home from deployment and you have no idea. It has been so difficult to keep this very happy secret from you but I felt it would be such a great surprise.  I imagine you walking towards the buses completely unaware your little heart’s wish for daddy to be home come true unexpectedly and you and your little sister scream ‘daddy’ and run into his arms filled with tears of joy and happiness (and I running behind crying as well).

You both have tearfully missed your father and had your share of bad days for such a young age. Each of your emotions have been tested and forced to mature rapidly from infancy to that of a young adult. You alone have endured more sorrow and heart aches than most adults can handle and yet your little heart understands it as a part of our lives even though your tender logic does not permit you to fully value what and why your daddy ‘goes away’.

I hope that when you read this letter you find yourself proud and prideful for the commitment your daddy did for the military, our country, people in America, and most of all – our family. You have experienced and accepted so much sacrifice and change than I have in my life so far – and yet you never cease to amaze me in how your faith, love, and strength has never been shaken.  Although you are so young, you not once have felt ashamed or abandoned from the side effects that come along with being a military family. In this present day you understand your father to be a hero and my hope is that you never stop thinking that way because a hero he will forever be – don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different.

Since you are still in your youthful-bliss years, I don’t go into details about why and exactly what your daddy does for our country only because you are still incapable of fully understanding the intricacy of our nation’s politics. Today, your infantile mind permits you to comprehend that our military is formulate and utilized to protect America. Just this past year we openly discussed the events of September 11, 2001 after you saw a video clip on the news of the airplane crashing into a building you will never see or visit (as I did). In tears I explained to you in a level you could grasp as to what this meant for our country and the people who live here. I was initially concerned that I might be planting a seed of fear in you, but instead your response was you telling me how glad you are that your daddy is part of a military that fights to make sure that never happens again.

Even with this most recent deployment, for humanitarian relief, you found yourself struggling with your emotions of pride and sadness because you missed your daddy. You were simply teased with a 2 week visit before your daddy received orders to redeploy and although you cried and pouted, your selfless heart couldn’t wait for help to reach the children of Haiti who had less than nothing. You felt compassion without ever knowing the word and already recognized how fortunate you are to have life’s perks and pleasures at arm’s reach.

I am so proud to be the mother of such a jovial, sensitive, intelligent, and empathetic little girl. Many times I wonder if our life’s circumstances have resulted in you growing up too fast and possibly missing out on being ‘just a kid’. With your humbleness and kindhearted ways you constantly put yourself in second place to the world. You silently watched my breakdowns and frustrations on those very trying days and did all you could to help and ease my pains. I hope that one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me for the times I yelled and lost patience like a scorpion whipping around my tail because I too missed your daddy and lost my hold on control. Every now and then I allowed my aggravation to seam out of my pores from the pressures of handling the homefront on a deployment – please forgive me for those unnecessary moments. I am not and never will be a perfect mother and just as I learned and grew from my mother I wish and pray that you too will take in the good and bad and always aim to be better than I for your children if you ever desire to be a mother.

I don’t know what the Lord has planned for our family and/or how many more deployments we will have experienced by the time I give you this letter but if there is one thing I hope you never stop knowing it is how much you and your sister mean to me and your daddy. Our life’s trials, tribulations, sacrifices, and unknowingness is consistently tolerable with one single thought of you and your sister. Our life is made easy because of you girls. God gave us the most special and fragile gifts we could ever receive and we truly and honestly cherish and treasure each and every moment with you two.

I look forward to watching you become a tween, teenager, young adult, and adult. I don’t expect it to be an easy task – to sit back and observe you make your life’s decisions as well as watching you fail to learn from your own mistakes. I can only trust that we have provided you with valuable life experiences, exposed you to the world in a way that permits you to assess and distinguish good from bad, and (most of all) supplied you with faith and trust in our God that He will always provide you your needs – just as He has done for our family so far.

You are a beautiful little girl inside and out. Your childlike honest ways give you an advantage to most adults, including myself, as to what an imperfect human being should be. I can’t wait to learn more about you and from you. I expect you to continue to amaze me in all the years to come. And please never ever forget that: No matter the day, no matter the time, no matter the weather, no matter whatever…I will love you forever and ever.

Love you to the moon and stars (plus infinity!),

Mommy

 

HOMECOMING

Sharing Me

Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body.

~Irene Claremont de Castillejo

Homecoming is so close I can feel it breathing on my neck! It’s been so long since I have seen my husband’s face, hair, skin, hands, – everything. Although he was home for a short time before getting redeployed it felt more like an R&R than his homecoming. We didn’t even get to enjoy a ‘honeymoon’ stage with the holidays, moving, our oldest going to a new school, and then the re-deployment. Even though we did the whole homecoming thing not too long ago I still find myself feeling the same reservations – specifically on touch.

As much as I dream about running into my husband’s arms to hold on for dear life, kissing him until we can’t any more, and having our bodies feel close again, I can’t remove myself from wondering if my space will feel violated? As well as how can it be violated if that space has been untouched because of a separation I have been longing to end?

As a military wife you learn to adapt and mold into whatever you need to be for any and every situation. Living months without any sensual, loving touch was difficult to get accustomed to at first but after time goes by its like you become comfortable with solitude and being untouched is as normal as waking up every morning.

Most people don’t allow just ‘anyone’ to touch you. I for one am no big ‘hugger’ – until I create an emotion for you. When we are out in public, to most people, it would be completely uncomfortable to have a stranger go up to you and put his/her hand on your shoulder as you converse. (I would probably be a bit scared too) Now if I know you this person (as an acquaintance per say) it might still be a little uncomfortable but more in the realm of okay. And thus, if I ‘know you – know you’ (in the sense that I have factual feelings for you) I would not only be okay with your hand on my shoulder but would expect more.

Children, for example, are the most honest and truthful individuals on earth – just because it’s all they know to be (a good thing, I say).  Most toddlers do not freely go to strangers unless they sense trust and an emotional connection. If you force them, they most likely will cry, kick, and scream. Conversely, if you take your time building that emotional bond, the toddler will slowly move towards you at their own pace and in the most genuine way ever.

So, here I am, feeling like a toddler faced with a stranger – and that stranger is touch. I know I love my husband and I trust him and have an emotional connection – but his touch is a stranger to my body. His touch needs to start over. His touch needs to work on a bond. His touch needs to earn my emotional connection. I expect it to not take too long but initially sharing me is going to be easier said than done.

Since the initial deployment my emotions have gone through shock, trauma, and recovery and all along the means used as the primary expression for these feelings – touch – has been suppressed.  I too need to retrain my mind and body to allow touch to be reintegrated into my life again. Touch – be it a hug, holding hands, a kiss, or a stroke on the face – is essential in a marriage and any loving relationship for that matter. So although, I am feeling a bit anxious about touch – I do recognize that I would fail at my love if I don’t walk into confronting this, even if it is a slow process, in the end it will be success.

Now I’m not quite sure how common this feeling is amongst most military wives but I wanted to be authentic about what is in my tumultuous thoughts and possibly in the other less outspoken military wives. And no – I’m not saying I plan on avoiding my husband’s touch like the plague. We will have our picture perfect – almost poster type homecoming moment, it’s after that moment has passed that worries me.

The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one’s being
to be experienced, explored, enriched and, thereby, educated.
–   Thomas Hanna

Semper Waiting

A military wife knows more than anyone what it feels like to wait and wait and wait. We wait for deployments, we wait for homecomings, we wait on official word, we wait on getting leave, we wait for orders, we wait on emails, we wait on phone calls, well  (you get what I mean) we are simply – Semper Waiting Spouses.

Since my last blog post, I finally got an official homecoming date for the husband (woohoo!) after waiting over 2 long gruesome and lonesome months. But even with a visible date in the near future I still find myself waiting! Waiting for it to hit me that this is not just another rumor, waiting to hear more details, waiting for the ACTUAL day to come, and waiting to hear what’s next!

All in all, it makes for a good recipe for ANXIETY. Have you ever been at the commissary or Target and gone to the checkout lane and thought to yourself you chose the ‘wrong-slower’ lane or got that ‘the other line always moves faster’ feeling? As you stand there and ponder these thoughts in your mind your anxiety begins to rise and thus the ‘wait’ becomes intolerable. Well, for me – I feel like at times living to military life I’m doing nothing more than waiting on-line – the wrong , slow line.

Anxiety is simply the way we react to stress. Some handle it better than others and some can’t handle it at all. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, apprehension, worry, and nervousness. Most times anxiety is justified with a cause (such as the anticipation of our spouse going or coming home from deployment), but even with a reason it may come from creating out of proportion expectations to what normally may happen in the real situation. (Please read more at the National Institute of Mental Health)

Anxiety is part of life (even toddlers experience it) and it’s a very common denominator in military spouses. Explained waiting under any circumstance (at the airport, doctor’s office, and a restaurant) can be anxiety-inducing so you have to expect that waiting for your life to move forward is even double the anxiety!

Even though I am a Licensed Psychotherapist, I am no way immune to falling under the spell of anxiety over waiting. I have found myself blowing into brown paper bags and clenching my blouse as though pulling forward would allow my lungs to take a deep breath. I find myself exhausted but then can’t allow myself to sleep because of my mind is continuously thinking about all the possibilities. There are days my emotions (good and bad) are high – where I cry uncontrollably, laugh like I never have before, have lonesome bottomless-pit feelings, and have wonderful happy proud independent moments. Then there are days that I am completely emotion-less. I turn into a robotic zombie going through out my daily to-do with minimal conversations, facial expressions, and (clearly) emotion. Of course the latter is of more concern and when I recognize I am walking down hill a dark path I quickly attempt to do some damage control.

 Anxiety already runs in my family and having my husband in the military only intensifies my likelihood of being anxiety-laden. Having my background in clinical social work does, however, provide me with the ability to identify red flags even within myself (at least to a certain degree). What helps me the most to get through my anxiety-driven moments about waiting is mainly changing my thought process about the situation. Basically, confronting my fears – and as a military spouse that fear for me is: Phobia of the unknown.

Although I like change – its ‘good or exciting’ change I prefer! It is the fear of what may happen that leads to worrying, loneliness, and nervousness. I find myself at times laying alone in bed and thinking of all the negative possibilities but neither of them with an actual reason to put my mind into this whirlwind of thought. I will spend countless hours crying about what may happen, about the unfortunate stories I read or hear about, and weighing out how likely it can happen to us. But having anxiety about the unknown becomes simply redundant once I take a step back and reflect on the dent I am creating within my emotional stability because it is simply what it is – unknown!

Why should I allow my anxiety to take over about ‘possibilities’? There is a chance of the outcome being great and wonderful just as much as sad and frightening. Telling myself this when I feel choked by anxiety helps me get over the unnecessary fret. Now, I’m not saying it is easy – there are many days I just want to sulk in my worry and find optimism nauseating. But its good practice to take care of my emotional health – not only for me, but for my family too.

For many (including myself at times), eliminating anxiety of waiting completely can be an unattainable task (and depending on the severity – professional help may be required). And so, what I make as my weekly emotional health goal is to maintain a Manageable Waiting Level by creating an environment that promotes positive outlets and support to get through the difficult and challenging times of living the military life.

Here are some of my personal guidelines to conquer Semper Waiting:

 

1 – Eliminate all the Debbie-Downers in your life!

Or at least minimize the amount of involvement they have when it comes to you coping with your situation. Negativity is contagious – if that’s all you hear at some point it will be ALL you think and that is far from being emotionally healthy.

 

2 – Join a support group.

Even if it’s a virtual one! I have found my greatest support from a group of wives that created a group on FB, not knowing one another, to get through this deployment – I truly don’t know what I would have done without them on my most ‘down’ days.

 

3 – Keep busy by starting something new.

There are so many things I have on my bucket list and what a great time to start while the husband is away. During our first deployment I finally got going on ‘writing’ – it has truly been refreshing. I know of some other wives who started working out too – I say that’s two times more beneficial!

 

4 – Believing in something spiritually greater than you to help you.

For me, it is turning to God. This is probably the tool I use the most. In my most challenging moments I find it so soothing to know that  my Lord will always provide and will give me the strength I need to get through everything and in the end – no matter what happens – all things happen to bring me closer to Him.

 

5 –Communicate as frequently as possible with your spouse.

Although this may vary when our spouses are on deployment or out training – I find it important to still have a conversation about what I am feeling or felt even if the moment has passed. Just hearing my husband tell me everything will be okay or (specifically) reassure me that the military provides him with the knowledge and training he needs to survive in most situations is very comforting and reassuring.

 

6 – Talk, talk, and talk.

 Moving from place to place and leaving friends behind can make it very easy for military spouses to become introverts. For me, talking to family, friends, and other military spouses feels like the boulder that’s been on my chest has been lifted. The power of speak is often underestimated but when given a try to results are usually very uplifting.

 

7 – Have a routine.

Although most of my days are repetitive – that very structure allows my day to flow at a faster rate. I know what to expect, what’s coming next, and when it’s over. Also, having a schedule just for the purpose of nixing it is also very revitalizing!

 

8 – Laughter is the best medicine.

There is loads of research out there that describe how laughing does your body good. Some nights I keep myself up by watching comedians, like Mollie Gross and George Lopez (My two favorites!), on Youtube and now (thanks to my good friend and military spouse) looking at Jenny the Military Spouse comics. In the end I always find myself asking – why don’t I do this more often?

 

9 – Me time!

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break every now and then. Our mind, body, and emotions need breaks too. At first I felt guilty putting my toddler in hourly care just because I needed a moment (or two) for me. Most of the time I do nothing more than sit at the library, have a coffee (one I can truly enjoy), or run an errand alone. Not so grand for most people but it gives me the opportunity to take a deep breath before getting back into reality. Burning out can not only be devastating for a single person but it can also affect a family entirely and so, I don’t only do it for me but for my family too.

 

10 – Look in the mirror.

When I feel like my anxiety in waiting is getting beneath my skin I turn to the mirror to ask myself what I am worrying about —- > the unknown?!?! Doing this allows me to recognize that in my worrying and possibly giving anxiety an opportunity to take over will do nothing to change the outcome, be it good or bad. All I can do is trust God’s plan, trust my husband is equipped to be ‘safe’ and trust that no matter what happens….this too shall pass.

Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight. 

~Benjamin Franklin

If you are suffering from anxiety, please see DISCLAIMER tab on the top of the page.

Wordless Wednesday…A Little Pink in a World of Camo

Today a very young Military wife along with her newborn baby girl will be putting to rest the man who was is her everything.

I have followed Mrs. P’s blog, A Little Pink in a World of Camo, for some time now. I love her honesty, humor, and cuteness –> her posts are always great to read. Last Wednesday, however, I found myself crying and my heart breaking for someone I never met but felt I knew. Mrs. P wrote about how her life turned upside down in a matter of seconds. On Sunday, March 14th, 2010, her husband, a USMC Cpl, died while on operations in Afghanistan. Her strength to come back to her blog and write about it already makes her a thousand times stronger than I.

As Military wives, this is our greatest fear: That our beloved doesn’t come home ‘safe’  – but when I come across something like this it becomes such a reality that it scares me even more. My heart and prayers go out to Mrs. P and her family. I pray that she continue to find strength and comfort in her wonderful memories that will live on with her forever.

This is just another reminder to truly embrace life and never take it for granted. Cherish every moment because we ultimately will never know God’s plan (nor understand it). I know I for sure took for granted the little bit of days I had my husband home before he re-deployed with no warning. We could have shared more emotions, exchanged more hugs and kisses, and just stared at each other –> but instead we chose to go back into our familial ‘roles’, chaotically setup house, and independently do our own thing only because I fell into thinking I was in a safety net of my husband being home. Now, although my situation is completely incomparable to what Mrs. P has experienced and is experiencing, it’s just that it has made me take a step back to reflect my life – our life.

Mrs. P, you are an amazing woman and yes! you will ALWAYS be a Marine Wife. God’s love and ((hugs)) to you.

Rest in Peace Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto

 

YOU KNOW YOU’RE ON DEPLOYMENT WHEN…

I know there have been many postings like this, but with my desire to get out of my emotional deep end with this surprise and still indefinite deployment I decided to try and bring some humor to get through it all.

So here is my version of “You Know You’re On Deployment When…”

 And please….feel free to add you’re humorous moments as well

1 – Since the beginning I have never been more aware of time then now. I don’t know which is worse -> Mondays because it starts so early or Fridays because it seems like it will never end.

2 – It’s amazing how I can feel so empty inside yet when I get on my scale in the mornings the numbers just keep going up!

3 – My face has been chosen as the official sign for “PROCEED WITH CAUTION”.

4 – I hope the Husband is home soon: There more time that passes the more I am starting to look like an inside-out Ugg boot.

5 – I am as holy and pure as Mother Teresa (need I say more?)

6 – Finally learned to stop praying for ‘patience’. I figured out that the only way God gives it to you is through experience! (I think I am good for two lifetimes now)

7 – Meal times have changed (and change daily with no warning) Times currently are as followed: Breakfast 10:37am, Lunch 2:49pm, Dinner 4:03pm.

8 – Self-medicating from a wide variety of snacks is mandated between each meal (even if only one marshmallow or chip -> but normalcy is considered four to six).

9 – (Going with food) Breakfast must be finished off with a piece of chocolate, so I can smile all day.

10 – Since no one is watching…cooking dinner now includes pretending to be on a cooking show with a wannabe British accent.

11 – With the hubby not around to help: A clean house is only 5 feet tall….I hope to not have any tall visitors soon because I have no idea what’s above me!

12 – Getting out of bed is more difficult than ever. At times I hear voices telling me to get out of bed and go lay on the couch. (This must be how Joan of Arc felt)

13 – I have perfected playing the Invisible Violin -> I mostly play it when I hear how people ‘miss’ their significant others while they are at work (You know, those 9-5 work places I keep hearing exist).

14 – The best part about ‘drinking’ alone is winking at myself across the breakfast bar…depending on my mood I will sometimes even give me a ‘shimmy’ back (It’s only the polite thing to do).

15 – If you say “HI” be prepared to engage in conversation for a minimum of 20 minutes. (I’ve got a lot to say and my usual audience is under the age of 7 and have the attention span of goldfish)

16 – Cyber-stalking can now be officially added to my Resume. Not only does it make time go by faster but it helps me feel better about myself and situation because there are seriously some way more disturbed and stranger people out there. Photo-editor and online scrapbook-er can also be added.  (My deepest apologies to all my friends who have to look at all my glittery/framed/sepia/soft focused/ and overall Picnik-ed out versions of my photos)

17 – A perfect vacation while the hubby is on deployment for me is going into a coma, waking up with the husband home, the house clean, the kids bathed, and it’s my birthday.

18 – A pregnant woman with the blues has nothing on me. I bet you $5 I will end up crying first before the entire “Full House” theme song can finish.

19 – I’ve become such an insomniac that when I fall asleep, I dream I am awake.

20 – In addition to the million things on my ‘To-Do List’, the husband has been added. (Yea, I said that)

21 – Money well spent is paying for hourly care for my toddler so I can sit at the library. When dealing with deployment and single parenting – silence has no price!

22 – I constantly imagine what I would tell our President and his wife about military families and concerns if ever face to face….I sometimes even practice in the mirror.

23 – Rainy/gloomy days on the weekend no longer bother me. It feels good to know that thousands of others now feel just as crabby (and maybe lonely) as I do. I say: Equality = Success!

24 – A hot date is now down the aisles of the grocery store. It’s the only place I go with a reason to ‘get ready’ and use ‘mascara’ – and yea, the butter and cheese totally melt as I walk by.

25 – I have attained the pain threshold of Super Woman. Since the hubby is the only one that can sympathize and baby a grown woman crying over stitches – you kinda learn to just say, “Of course this would happen now” and smile. 🙂

~ Hope I at least made you smile ~

🙂

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. 

 ~Kurt Vonnegut

My Letter Featured in the Marine Corps Times

 Last week I found myself even more frustrated that our country is more informed about the Earthquakes than the current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan –> affecting our country, citizens, and military directly. Most people can tell you how many deaths resulted from the earthquakes but are completely unaware of how many casualties have occurred within our military since January (79 by the way, according to iCasualties). I don’t mean to disregard or minimize what has happened, however I don’t agree with our Military being so involved when there are bigger issues that need to be dealt with regarding our country. I wrote a Letter to the Marine Corps Times stating my opinion and it is now featured in this weeks (March 8th, 2010) edition.

You can click the title for the direct link to the letter, but here is what it says:

END QUAKE RELIEF NOW

At what point did our US Military become the world’s first aid kit?

It is truly sad and devastating what has happened in Haiti and Chile. Two countries in less than two months that have been hit by destructive earthquakes which have left millions of people displaced and homeless and thousands dead.

However, I do not understand President Obama’s decision to send out our military to Haiti with such force and for this long. With the most recent earthquake in Chile, our President promised to send out our troops if we are needed – but how long can our country do this for?

Our military already is stretched thin with the current events happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. There just aren’t enough of them to go around. 

Troops with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Sailors on the amphibious ship Bataan, one of the first ships to arrive in the wake of the earthquake, had only been home for some weeks from a seven month deployment prior to receiving 24 hour notice to deploy again. Those Marines and Sailors are also still out there with no return date in sight.  Not only is this strenuous on our service members, but also to their families as well.

Our country has agencies, such as the American Red Cross, that are funded and prepared to assist in these kinds of natural disasters. Our military should not be obligated to take upon the task of humanitarian relief for extensive periods of time. I can very well see how this deployment can be a noble and dignified one, but it is not enough to justify a mission so costly, both monetarily and physically, on a military that already is having difficulty sustaining the current tempo of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have a larger role to play and a truly more important one that relates directly to our country’s citizens, safety, and freedom.

Of course that is the edited version. This is my entire original letter:

END QUAKE RELIEF NOW

At what point did our military become the world’s first aid kit?

It is truly sad and devastating what has happened in Haiti and Chile. Two countries in less than two months that have been hit by destructive earthquakes which have left millions of people displaced and homeless and thousands dead.

However, I do not understand President Obama’s decision to send out our military to Haiti with such force and for this long. Neither was I surprised with the most recent earthquake in Chile that our President promised to send out our troops if we are needed – but how long can our country do this for?

Our military is already stretched thin with the current events happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. There just aren’t enough of them to go around.  The Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and Sailors on the USS Bataan, one of the first ships to arrive in the wake of the earthquake, had only been home for some weeks from a seven month deployment prior to receiving 24 hour notice to deploy again. Those Marines and Sailors are also still out there with no return date in sight.  Not only is this strenuous on our military but to their families as well.

It is understandable to send out our military to assist in security and stabilization but it has to come to a point we need to say “you welcome and goodbye”. It is well over 40 days now that Haiti has a military presence even though the earthquake has faded from news headlines and just about all the media that was out there reporting, blogging, and tweeting daily have returned home as well. I find it difficult to swallow that we can be in another country so long but when Katrina hit New Orleans– our military, the USS Bataan specifically, was given orders to pull out after only spending 19 days providing humanitarian relief.

It is time we get the military home and back to focusing on issues that affect our country directly. Our military along with their families have been on a consistent deployment cycle for a couple years and now is not the time to take upon unnecessary duties.

Our country has agencies, such as the American Red Cross, that are funded and prepared to assist in these kinds of natural disasters. Our military should not be obligated to take upon the task of humanitarian relief for extensive periods of time. I can very well see how this deployment can be a ‘noble’ and ‘dignified’ one but even so it is not enough to justify a mission so costly, both monetarily and physically, on a military that already is having difficulty sustaining the current tempo of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The bottom line is they have a larger role to play and a truly more important one that relates directly to our country’s citizens, safety, and freedom.

Calling all Military Spouses, Girlfriends, Fiancés, Children, Friends and Families: NEED YOUR INPUT!!

Hello Everyone!!

I haven’t been able to ‘post’ anything lately because I have been preoccupied with a couple of projects and ideas I’ve put on the back burner. Now with the hubby re-deployed and with being in a new location (still quite unfamiliar with) I decided to attempt to use my time wisely and take advantage of solidarity and make it as productive as possible!

One of those projects is putting as many creative ideas and activities families and friends (specifically children) can do independently and together during times of deployment. Now, I know – we military wives are very creative during these times 😉 I have come up with quite a few of my own and others I have searched for as well. But I would love more!!

So here is my question to you:

What is your favorite activity, creative idea, gift, surprise, care package theme, and/or homemade letter/card that you sent or did while experiencing deployment on the homefront??

It can be ANYTHING! Please email me your idea at: Homefront_wife@yahoo.com

I am truly so excited to get this project going and out there to the public!

Thank you all for your support and suggestions!!!

An Open Letter to the Military: Regarding the Recent Deployment to Haiti, Rumors, and the Homefront

Dear Military,

As you know, it has been about 20 days since my husband deployed to Haiti. I am almost 100% certain that the inbox of our FRO (Family Readiness Officer) has been inundated with inquiries regarding our service men’s and women’s return date. I, as a spouse and a mother of two little girls, am not immune to the desire to know either but have moved away from asking since I can already predict the answer is not yet known. However, this does not eliminate the frustration and anxiety that I and other spouses are currently experiencing. 

It is obvious to those involved that our stress and overwhelming dissatisfaction about this deployment is more so in relation to the fact that our men and women just got home from their recent 7 month deployment. It is a constant fear of mine, as well as voiced in other spouses, that our ‘family time’ will be cut short or worse non-existence upon their return due to the realization that they must start ‘work-ups’ to deploy again in the near future.

With the rumors looming around us like a plague it is easier said than done to not grab a hold of one and hold on to it until it is shot down. At times, for me, it can make a huge difference in my day to follow a rumor for a couple of hours instead of looking into an endless tunnel with an indefinite end. Occasionally, I even welcome them – even more so to get me through the ‘rough days’. Currently, the rumor that has grabbed my attention is that some spouses have been given a return date. It would truly be infuriating to know that a selection of spouses is receiving more information regarding homecoming while other spouses are counting up days instead of having the opportunity to count down. Although my logic comforts my emotions in the belief that this too is nothing more than a rumor – it still is very challenging to overlook.

I am aware that representatives of the unit are not authorized to provide specific dates and/or information until they are given permission to do so. Reflecting on the circumstances and the barriers around the deployment, I began to contemplate ideas or ways we as spouses can be alleviated from the stressors of this current situation. I understand with a full heart of compassion that Haiti needs the help of the International community to assist them in returning to, at minimum, what their world was like seconds before the earthquake. I am proud to be part of a nation that can assist in this mass effort providing extraordinary and grand humanitarian relief. I am aware, via the news and updates from the CO (Commanding Officer), that our service men and women are consistently and productively providing this assistance where needed as well as supporting NGOs. What would be reassuring at this time for us spouses on the homefront, and to say the least – encouraging, maybe to tell us what the determining factors are in regards to the length of this deployment? Is there a list of areas/towns in Haiti that need to be visited first? Is there a group of NGOs that must be assisted? Is there a goal of how many people of Haiti need to receive direct assistance from us? At this point – anything is truly better than hearing nothing. Speaking for myself, I feel that if I received an update more often, even to say that ‘nothing new is known’, would be more consoling than passing another day with silence amid incessant rumors.

Nevertheless, I appreciate and applaud the rapid planning and organization of the upcoming “Family Appreciation Day”. My daughters and I are truly looking forward to having a delightful time as well as the given opportunity to meet other spouses and families in which empathy can be utilized at its best. This being the first event I am attending, since recently moving into the area, I am unaware if there will be Chaplains and/or counselors at hand to casually introduce themselves and “check-in” on us spouses and children and possibly go as far as extending their therapeutic services. With the present unexpected back-to-back deployment along with the added strain of it being ‘indefinite’ it should almost be anticipated that risks of anxiety, depression, and even alcohol and drug abuse may be high amongst family members. I say this not only as a  licensed professional in the field of mental health but also as someone who is facing these circumstances and know what a difference it  would make to hear someone come to me and say they understand how difficult this can be and simply ask me how I am doing.

I hope that my letter does not find you bothered by my spoken standpoint for my desire to know something that may very well be unattainable, but with that, I hope you can also understand the position I speak from. It would be more than a blessing to just have my husband home already, but as I mentioned – at this point knowing anything is better than knowing nothing.

Until then, my prayers are with him, the entire military, the people of Haiti, and the families of those here on the homefront. I not only pray for strength but that we may also continue and strive to be optimistic during this fractious time.

Sincerely,

A Military Spouse

What America forgets….

It’s been a bit over 2 weeks since the earthquake hit Haiti and not only is it fading from the news headlines but just about all the reporters that were out there reporting, blogging, and tweeting daily have returned home as well – leaving it almost impossible to get even a glimpse of what my husband is seeing, experiencing, and may be doing out there without having to go thru many Google searches on the unit or ship. Yes, the military has its site we can read articles on (but never really say anything new besides fluffy “this is a wonderful deployment” stuff) and see pictures as well as the Ship having a fan page where there is a post almost every night  – but it’s not enough.

This ‘indefinite’ deployment is not only difficult because my husband JUST got home from his 7 month deployment but also because we have no light at the end tunnel. My youngest daughter who is 2 was just beginning to get used to him and then for her – he just disappeared AGAIN. My oldest is more resilient than I at times, but it does not cease her from asking while out on base:  “why are there other marines still here (in USA)?? Why didn’t they go??” She feels her time was cut short with her daddy – especially since they were beginning their weekly daddy/daughter ‘dates’.

Yes, I can very well see how this deployment can be a ‘noble’ and ‘dignified’ one but even so it is not enough to heal the wounds my heart now has in having to fix my broken family AGAIN. I get that Haiti needs help and I understand with a full heart of compassion that the people have less than nothing today, tomorrow, and probably next week but I want my husband home, not only for me, but mainly so my girls can know  who he is AGAIN. I want my girls to know what daddy loves to do after work, what daddy’s favorite breakfast meal is, to hear his stories FROM him, and so on.

I want Haiti to get all the help possible to make the country better than it was seconds before the earthquake hit but I want my husband to be a father in person to my girls more. I don’t know why the powers that be decided it would be a great idea to re-deploy a unit that just got back not even 6 weeks ago and even more so why they would make this an ‘indefinite’ deployment with the knowledge that ‘work ups’ for their next deployment was in the near future. I feel forgotten – I feel my girls were forgotten, my mother-in-law was forgotten, my sisters-in-law, my brothers-in-law, my family was forgotten. How is the great ‘American Family’ supposed to grow in love and respect if we are never together?

And for all those people who loooovvvveee to say: “Well you knew what you were getting into when you married him (a military man)”. YES I DID but it didn’t turn me into an emotionless zombie! Wouldn’t it be just a little bit odd if I happily waved my husband goodbye and rushed him out the door saying: “go do what you signed up for – happy you’re leaving – see you when they send you back!” with an impatient smile???

Um, yea – trust me I’m fully aware that I married a deployable man but I am allowed to miss him and I am allowed to want him home ESPECIALLY since he just got home from a 7 month deployment. ALSO, for you’ sayers’ of that retched statement, I’m curious to know what it is you tell mothers, sisters, brothers, and children when they exclaim wanting them home too? You certainly can’t use the “you know what you were getting into” with them.

It also is truly a stab in the heart when fellow Americans can’t support us wives, girlfriends, fiancés, mothers, and children when we miss our men and express our natural-normal emotions. A little compassion at times would be nice. It’s even more heart-wrenching when a person, who claimed to be a Navy Vet, crudely told wives on a website “suck it up people! They’ll get home when their job is done! Am not joking & as a US Navy Veteran I am NOT stating an opinion. None of you were issued in their sea bag – there are bigger fish to fry. Get control of yourselves people!” (and yes that is a DIRECT QUOTE ) I was shocked that someone would even go that far to say such a thing. So is he suggesting I turn to my crying 2-year-old as she asks for her daddy and tell her ‘get a hold of yourself’?? It’s clear, to me at least, that this person must have never had anyone that cared about him enough to miss him while he was gone and thus why he has his sour note but people like this – to me, your simply unforgivable.

It takes a lot of strength, patience, and love to be a military wife, this is known already, but what a lot of people don’t know is that piece of respect, honor, and pride is just as loud and clear when our husbands are home or deployed. We miss and wish them to be home but not once, not ever, not even a millisecond do we not have pride in our men, honor our country, and respect the military. THAT to me is a challenging emotion that I face daily and even more so on deployments and thus far, my 6 ingredients of a military wife are all there – STILL.

So while I hope days go by quick, I find myself in a battle of not wanting to wish my life away either – this is just ‘it’ for now. I don’t know how long my husband will be gone, I don’t know what he is doing, I don’t know when my girls will see their daddy, and I don’t know if there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. This is just the story of the “I DON’T KNOW DEPLOYMENT”

“Patience is nothing but the art of concealing your impatience”

~ Guy Kawasaki

New Year, New Home, New State, New Blog Post, and New Deployment

So after I pulled all the cobwebs and used a compressed air can to blow off the tall amount of dust on my blog – IM BACK!  Or more like (as I prefer to call it) , “My Verbal Rebirth” (yes yes – I so prefer that better)

Any who – instead of boring you with why and what and the blah blah’s about and reasons I have not written in so long I’m just going to tell you all about whats happening and whats happened that is relevant to whats happening.

Well the husband returned safe and in one piece from Deployment early last month (December 2009). Our family was joyful and thrilled to have him home, especially for the holidays. Our girls have enjoyed every minute of having their “daddy” home that it still causes me to tear up at the sight of their happiness.

In addition, after spending the holidays with our very loving family and friends in New Jersey – we loaded up our lives into cardboard boxes, put the girls in their most comfy jammies and we hit the road. Off to begin the new year on a road trip to our new home, new lives, and new chapter of being together again. We drove straight through the night and all I could do was imagine and plan ideas in my head of all the wonderful experiences we are going to have together in our new home. Did I mention I love decorating too? I pretty much had every room set up and color schemes picked out before we were even got out of NJ!

We arrived at 5am extremely tired and went straight to sleep (on the carpet) but of course only after looking and inspecting every closet room and corner of the house (all with our 2 little girls trailing behind us just as excited). We woke up a couple of hours later motivated and the movers began to transport in all our furniture and belongings.

We spent the entire first week unloading boxes, building furniture, putting away clothes, and organizing evrything with the new layout of the house. The kitchen was the first room in the house to be completely done – not because I started cooking or anything but because I knew exactly how I wanted decorated!

The girls adjusted great. My oldest went to her new school and loves it. She is excited every morning  to get ready. They both love their new rooms and are indulging in all the toys that had been placed into storage throughout my husbands deployment.

The following Monday my husband went back to work after his post-deployment leave. My oldest had become accustomed to having her daddy home during the day that before school and after school she would say how much she missed him and can’t wait for him to be home from work. The next day, as I couldn’t decide where to put all my useless ‘stuff’ I had CNN in the background and I heard that Haiti was hit with a very strong earthquake. Not much else was reported at the time and there was no videos or pictures but all I could think was how sad for this to happen to a country where people truly have nothing to begin with and here I am complaining that I dont have enough room to store everything. I then shut off the TV and went to make dinner. As the night fell I signed on to my Facebook account and there is where I saw friends looking for their own loved ones in Haiti and desperately asking people to donate money to charities. It was there that I felt it closer to me than before. I now know someone who directly has family that was affected by the earthquake – basically feeling, that could have easily been me.

The next couple days I felt like I was struck with a big boulder in my chest and found myself having to remember to breathe. As I watched the news like a devoted sports fan follows his team into the playoffs – my husband came home on Thursday with confirmed orders that he was being re-deployed to Haiti for humanitarian relief the NEXT day. We had one day to prepare – to explain to our oldest daughter – to discuss finances – and to well, eat dinnertogether as a family. This is probably one of the most emotionally challenging experiences I will deal with, not so much just for me, but in helping my daughters get through this. As of now we have no return date and no way to countdown how long he will be gone for (something not very comforting for our oldest daughter). She does understand what has happened in Haiti and wants help for the people who are suffering – its just that, as she says it: “daddy just got home – its not fair”.

Now  don’t get me wrong – I am proud we come from a country that is willing and able to help Haiti – believe me I watch the Haiti coverage almost 24/7 even though it is now fading from the headlines. My heart aches for the families, children, women, elderly – all of the people of Haiti. I wish I could do more! All I can do is to continue to pray that more aid goes their way and that the country of Haiti will be better than ever before when it’s all over.

It will be one week tomorrow that my husband has been re-deployed. Our family’s reunion was short-lived (only 6 weeks!) but I have my faith and know that I an my girls will be okay. I have loads of challenges ahead of me with being completely new to this area and only knowing my neighbors – I just hope once we are completely settled (since I still haven’t completely unpacked) we will venture out more and have a more steady routine. But of course, never fails, in only the 6 days that my husband has been gone things have already broken! Like important things – the car and the phone. I’m seriously scared to wash clothes or turn on the dish washer!

So for now, I will keep Haiti and all those providing relief in my prayers, I will try to stay strong, I will continue to have my faith that God will take of me, and just keep telling myself:

“Things need to be difficult, before anything gets easy.”

The song that keeps me going…and looking up….