Deployed During the Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope that you had a great, safe holiday.

We’ve talked about quite a few things in our short blog life, but one thing we haven’t really touched on is how to survive the holidays! It’s harder than everyone thinks: even if you are lucky enough to be able to talk to your deployed family member often, like I am, it is still difficult. I have spent time talking with my fellow spouse friends about who deployments are harder on: the parent at home with the kids, and running the household (some also working full-time), or the deployed parent, away from it all and missing out on almost everything. I think you can argue either case, but I believe that holidays are more difficult for the deployed parent. For the days leading up to, and of course including, Thanksgiving, I could tell that my husband was emotionally down. He finally admitted it yesterday, saying that as much as he loves talking to us, seeing the pictures I was emailing and hearing the extended family members’ voices made the day harder for him. I understand. I’m a big fan of “getting through” the days; I feel great when I can cross another day off on my giant calendar, and you can’t do that on a holiday.

So what have you found that makes getting through the holidays better? Seeing family is great, but really and truly, if you’re not in the military, you don’t get it. Right? I have a wonderful, huge family and I look forward to seeing them as much as possible, but the last time my husband was deployed, it was rough. Everyone wants to show that they are there for you, they want to know how you’re holding up. My husband seems to always be deployed at this time, so Christmas a few years ago was interesting. I was at our big Christmas celebration and everyone was asking me how I was doing. The real answer was: “I’m trying not to break down and cry in front of everyone here.” What I said was: “Everything is great! We were able to Skype this morning, so that was awesome.” That seemed to satiate everyone, except a few, who pressed: “But really Bridget, how are you doing?” with that knowing look, as if to say, “I can read through your b.s.” I refused to break the joker smile I had plastered on my face and instead started downing champagne until I didn’t feel the pain any more. The next day I cried for hours, embarrassed at my weakness, and inability to deal in a positive way (not to mention the pounding headache that kept me in bed until 6pm). What a mess.

This year drinking away my sorrows isn’t a realistic option, since I have a baby to be positive and responsible for. :) I have made a conscious effort to be positive throughout this entire deployment, for my own sake, but moreso for the baby, and I have done so well to this point, I don’t want to lose it now.

Suggestions?

Happy holidays everyone, you deserve it.

Keeping in Touch

We’re deep into this deployment, and I have been struggling to find ways to keep my husband up-to-date on everything that has been going on with the baby. Literally, in the past week she started crawling, standing up, drinking from a sippy cup, and drinking out of a straw. Can you saw developmental growth spurt? ;)

One of my good friends just welcomed home her husband from his third deployment, and with three girls under the age of ten, she always seems to have great ideas on keeping the family experiences intimate, no matter how many miles may separate them. She suggested that I keep a weekly journal, with pictures, so that my husband could catch up on everything with the baby. I love this idea, but I wanted it to be current; I couldn’t figure out how to get the journal to him, and then back to me again, without losing a bunch of time in the middle. I thought about doing an electronic journal, but I wanted it to be tangible. There’s something to be said for holding a picture of your daughter, versus looking at one online, right?

I have a friend who is a representative for Send Out Cards (https://www.sendoutcards.com/119999/) and she has sent some really creative, thoughtful cards to us in the past, so it got me thinking….what if I created a picture card “journal” from the baby and sent it to my husband each week. I’m sure that other sites do picture cards as well, so if you already have one your comfortable with that’s great, but SOC is really cheap, and easy.

Each week I find photos of the baby that I haven’t already emailed to my husband and I make a journal, from her point-of-view to be sent to her daddy. It’s so much fun to imagine what she would say, and to put it into text. I know that it will mean so much to my husband when he sees, not only that he has mail, but that it’s “from” his daughter. This week I had an extra side (we do a tri-fold card), and I added a page from our first baby: our dog. I know that will bring a smile to his face, and really, what’s more important than that?

If you have found a cool way to stay in touch while your spouse is/was gone, please post about it here.