A member of the "Silent Ranks" that doesn't want to be so silent.

Deployments: 11 Hard Lessons Learned.

My son trying on da da's hat.

My son trying on da da’s hat.

I’ve never been such an unshowered mess than I have been during the first half of a deployment and of course being a first time mom.  But what I learned about myself and what I hope all of you ladies learn, is how resilient and strong you can be.  And know ahead of time these 11 lessons that I personally learned the hard way. In the two, 7 months deployments I have learned:

1. It’s okay to give yourself time to get it all out.  But don’t go more than a week without a shower. You might get unexpected visitors and it’s embarrassing.

2. Don’t buy a house.  It all worked out for me in the end but you can’t buy a house in some states with just a General POA. They will require a special POA for that specific property and if he’s deployed it’s that much more stressful!  And really the process just sucks and should be something you and your husband do together no matter how insistent.  It was so bitter sweet buying the house and moving in by myself. All I kept thinking was that I wished my husband was with me to share in this moment.

3. Don’t buy new pets.  I bought my first dog when my husband came back from deployment but during the second one I got “bored” and bought another one.  My first dog was so easy to housebreak and was pretty much trained within two weeks of having him home at 10 weeks old!  Dealing with a puppy by yourself when you are already under a lot of stress sucks.  My second dog is great now but I remember one night in particular where both of my Golden Retrievers had to go potty and it was raining outside.  Next thing I know they excitedly ran towards me and I fell to the muddy unpaved yard.  If there was ever a time I wanted to throw a fist up at the sky… I won’t even go into the #2 messes that the new puppy made.  Several days of diarrhea in her crate but usually pee overnight! I would wake up in the middle of the night to the stench and of course she loved to “shake off” the wetness usually onto my curtains or my PJs.  DON’T DO IT!

4. Don’t make huge purchases just because you think he will love it. Yeah that pool table seemed like a good idea at the time but now it’s going to cost an additional $300-$400 to set up and again when you move every time you move!! So approximately $700 each time we move!!  Pool tables are not worth the huge expense over constant moves something to think about when you make big purchases.  Do your research or it will bite you in the ass.  We ended up getting rid of it.

5. Yeah that pie/cake looks great but if you’re the only one home you’re the one that’s going to eat it all. Your husband is going to come back eventually and that last month is going to suck trying to work off all of the family sized deserts you managed to eat by yourself.

6. Brownies are not an acceptable choice for dinner.  Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your families.  Sometimes I have found that it is a great time to try new healthier recipes.  My husband is a picky eater so deployments are a great time to figure out how to hide healthy things into his food. 🙂

7. If you’re going to throw away a bunch of stuff of his that you hate before he gets back, make sure you have a good excuse and throw away a few things of yours so it looks like the movers lost it.  Deny, deny, deny! I wanted to be honest and told him that I hated a red shirt of his so I gave it to Goodwill.  It made for a really bad first week back. :-/

8. Don’t put so much stress on yourself when he gets back. Of course we all picture and day dream of looking beautiful and running towards each other etc. But it’s usually the case that you’ll be in a coat, covered, cold, hungry and looking for him frustrated for a half hour with kids crying and disheveled wanting to go potty when the line for the ONE stall is a mile long.  It’s ok if it’s not a perfect homecoming, if he’s home that’s all you can ask.  Also, this is a time for you and if you have  kids to reconnect so it’s ok to tell his family that they can’t come.  Most of the time they think they want their extended families there only to realize that they’re exhausted and don’t really feel like having family visit.  A week after he comes home is acceptable.  It’s going to be a tough readjustment period.

9. I’ve covered this on a previous post but don’t go out with male friends and don’t let them visit you alone. Don’t put yourselves in a bad situation.  Yes you’re feeling lonely and in need of some male attention, especially when you haven’t heard from your husband in a month.  I’ve been there.  But now is not the time to allow that in. Be strong.

10. AND this is a big one.  DO NOT make huge life changing decisions right before a deployment!  I got married 3 months before my husband deployed and tried to get pregnant right before his second deployment.  YOU’RE the one that is going to be left alone with the decisions you both made.  Don’t let him push you for the extra money or whatever.  I spent 7 months of my first year of marriage without my husband and it was stressful, I was resentful and it really wasn’t a great start.  The first year of marriage is hard enough getting used to living together if you’re not already doing so without throwing in a deployment.  Men get kind of nutty before deployments, even insecure.  They want to make sure you won’t leave them and marrying you and leaving you knocked up is a pretty effective way of preventing infidelity or you from leaving them.  Reassure them that they are loved but you want to do this when you are together if you are feeling pressured.  Don’t have a baby because he feels like if he dies he wants to leave something behind.  This is a selfish and insecure reaction. These are decisions you should make rationally and no one is rational right before a deployment.  It is not fair to you and as a military spouse or soon to be spouse, your opinion matters and it’s ok to put your foot down especially if you aren’t ready for these things.

11. The last two weeks before a deployment is NOT a good time to teach you how to mow the lawn and drive his standard vehicle. Learn to do these things well ahead of time so that you don’t get emotional and freak out.

I hope this helps some of you ladies going through any of this.  And if there is something you have learned please feel free to share!

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