My husband is in the military. It’s how we met, actually , because I spent a few years in the Air Force as well. Consequently, my husband periodically has to leave sometimes, and unlike other husbands it’s not for a short business trip. We’re talking months on end.
It’s not easy, but I understand his obligation and I’m proud of what he does. I know it isn’t easy for him to leave the kids behind, and I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t easy to deal with raising kids alone AND worrying twenty-four hours a day whether my husband is okay when he’s gone. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be a single parent all the time, and I heartily applaud anyone who can pull it off and not go crazy.
If you find yourself in a situation like me where your spouse has to head off to military deployment and leaves you behind with babies and/or young children, read on for what I suggest you do to keep your sanity:
- Accept help. I don’t have any family nearby, but my church has an excellent program for single parents where once a month I could drop the kids off for a few hours of babysitting while I went and spent some time alone.
- Utilize the services offered by military installations. When my husband was deployed I was allowed to call him once a week at no charge to me. I also received free babysitting once a month from the on-base daycare center. One time when my husband was in Iraq my car’s battery died while I was on base shopping. Not knowing what else to do, I called my husband’s office on the base and three people rushed over to get my car started. I didn’t even know these people, but they still helped me.
- Don’t watch the news. Period.
- Give yourself a break. You may feel guilty about taking a vacation to go see family or taking some time for yourself because you know your spouse is working 20-hour days in a dangerous place. If you don’t give yourself a break occasionally, however, you’re going to be a wreck before your spouse even returns home.
- Be patient upon your spouse’s return. You may want to immediately dump the kids on your spouse and run screaming for the hills, but that’s not the best welcome home.
When my husband returned from his last deployment (6 months in Kuwait) we picked him up at the airport. The kids tried their best to keep the banner up (it was bigger than them!), but the second they saw him they dropped the banner and ran toward him, waving American flags and screaming “Daddy! Daddy!” The entire crowd of people in line for the security checkpoint stopped, watched the scene, and then broke into applause. It was as if he had never left. My son was 1 when my husband left, but he knew exactly who that guy in uniform was when my husband got off the plane.