As Army wives we go weeks, months, and even years apart from our Solider.
Our first 6 years of marriage, we spent year 1 and year 5 apart thanks to 12 month deployments. In between those deployments were weeks and months away for training. We were happily married, but not together very much, battle tested right out of the gate. In the military community, that’s not uncommon...in comparison to most traditional marriages, it’s VERY UNCOMMON. Insert the all so often made remark, I don’t know how you do that??
I agree, it sounds and feels defeating to spend that much time apart. Being an Army wife is learning to live without the one person you can’t live without, often over and over.
During those battle tested times, I was strong. And independent. Made the days count while I counted down the days. During a year long deployment, the thought of a month long training felt and sounded like a breeze, obviously.
But here we are, a month long TDY, and I keep saying to myself this shouldn’t feel so hard. And I don’t mean doing everything for the kids kinda hard, or remembering to take out the trash, and care for the yard. Those are the parts of me that instantly kick in. Thanks to long work hours, our day to day battle rhythm isn’t much different, I’ve usually got it covered. It’s not easy, but it’s mostly our lifestyle.
But I keep thinking it shouldn’t feel this hard, like I miss him so much kinda hard. The somethings always missing and my happiness isn’t quite complete, kinda hard. The end of the day is here and I’m not sure how to turn the day off without my person to sit with, snuggle with, and talk about our big plans for the next day with.
It took me a few weeks to process what was happening. I didn’t give myself permission to say a month is a long time. Because it really is. Aside from other military families, I don’t know many who spend a solid month away from their spouse. And if they did, it sure would be okay to own and proclaim how hard it is.
Now that I’ve given myself that space to accept that a month apart in marriage, even a military marriage, is a long time, it hit me why this feels so hard. It’s familiar. It’s compounded. It’s going to happen again.
The familiar hustle of each day, even doing most of it on my own thanks to long hours, seems harder knowing at the end of it, I’ll sit and remember it’s another night alone. The little things your kids do that make you smile, that should make you both smile together, kinda make you sad too because they’re missing it.
It’s adding up. It’s only a month, but it’s a month added up to all the other months we’ve been apart. In 15 years of marriage, more than half the birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s days, have been missed. Sure for a month mission it’s possibly only one of the kids birthdays being missed instead of everyone’s, but it’s ANOTHER ONE MISSED. It adds up, and while you would think it gets easier, these parts only seem to get harder.
It’ll happen again. The welcome homes are out of this world exciting...so exciting, its what keeps us going. Not long after the excitement fades, if it’s not time to say goodbye again, you know that at some point you will.
So instead of feeling like an Army wife failure for admitting this TDY feels really hard, and more like an unaccompanied tour, I’m embracing my independent self, that misses her man, one night, one week, one
month, or one year at a time.
It's not always easy, but it's always worth it!