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Wednesday
Nov282012

take care of yourself.

There are few things more important than taking care of yourself during a deployment. I know for Ryan, few things mattered more to him and gave him the peace of mind to be able to focus on the mission at hand, than knowing I was ok. This is something we struggle with in general as women – especially in seasons of life when a lot is being asked of us. I think having Ellie really clarified this for me – if I wore myself down, it wasn’t just me who was impacted – it hurt my ability to be able to care of her well. I certainly didn’t get this right all the time, but when I was trying to really care for myself, here are some things that helped me:

LITTLE THINGS

Honestly, the things that really made me feel taken care of or cheered me up were so small – running out to get a latte, lighting some candles, curling up under a blanket with an episode of Parenthood or Modern Family – the challenge was pausing long enough to figure out what might brighten my spirits and taking the time to find it.

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR TIME

One big question I know a lot of wives struggle with is whether to stay where you are stationed or go spend time closer to family & friends. Often times a deployment happens shortly after you get stationed somewhere, or in a place where you don’t have the same support system you would have at home. The only thing I want to say here is I think you have to be fiercely protective of doing what’s right for you. I’ve seen this decision made a ton of different ways & each time it was right, because it was right for that spouse.

For Ryan & I, we knew two things: we had really invested in building community here in Virginia. We’d spend a year and a half investing in a church, neighborhood, new friends we met by becoming parents around the same time as then & generally being really open to new friendships. I couldn’t imagine picking up and leaving those people for six months. We also knew I was going to have Ellie & with no family in the area, I was going to need some periods of sustained help with her. It made sense to us that I’d go home to Indiana two different times, each time for two weeks. We spaced the trips so they’d give me a respite at critical points during the deployment. We prayed about this, talked about it, sought advice, really tried to think about what would work best for our little family. And honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. Our community here was so critical to our well being during this deployment, but so were those two weeks where the ratio of adults to baby was 3:1. When I got off the plane in Indiana, I was worn down and exhausted; two weeks later I would board a plane for Virginia refreshed & ready to tackle the next bit of deployment. I am beyond grateful to my parents who so generously welcomed us into their home for a month total, who also came to Virginia to pitch in here and who loved all three of us so well during this journey.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov272012

bring him along to the wedding.

Monday
Nov262012

choosing my language.

sweet readers, this is our final week of deployment posts -- i'm so grateful for your willingness to read this series & am eager to hear your thoughts. some of my favorite posts to write will go up this week. i'll do a three post series in december/january on ryan's deployment homecoming, but for most of december, we'll be back to the usual on t&f -- a rehearsal dinner we hosted at our house, a friendsgiving we won't soon forget, a little getaway ryan & i are about to take, some thoughts on being still during the holidays & some ellie girl antics. for now, another post on our family's experience with deployment...

One very simple thing I found to be really important was some of the language I used to talk about the deployment or in how I answered people’s questions. It was important so I could talk about the experience really honestly, but also for how I was processing everything. I also realized that during future deployments, Ellie would be able to understand my answers to these questions. That made it all the more important that my answers were honest & reflective of how we, as a family, approach deployments. Here are the two most important examples:

There is a real temptation when your husband is deployed for half of your daughter’s first year of life to either say, “I’m a single mom for six months” or “he missed six months of her life” – the trouble is, neither of those things are true and it was really unhelpful for me to think of it that way.

Here’s why: I was soooo far from being a single mom – I can’t overstate how incredibly involved Ryan was with Ellie’s life during his time deployed. Despite being half a world away and having limited communication, he was a huge part of her daily life. I bounced ideas/concerns/decisions off of him constantly in emails. He (just like when he was home) asked such insightful questions, gave really thoughtful feedback, was the best at encouraging me through some of the harder transitions. Ellie & I talked about him all the time, she heard his voice every day and we looked at photos every chance we got.

Ryan was so observant – even through pictures, my stories in emails and the occasional opportunity to video chat, often he would point out changes in her that I hadn’t even noticed yet. I felt so incredibly supported, by him, through the whole thing – and consequently he felt so present in Ellie’s life.

He also did not “miss” those months away – he and I worked so hard at that. I emailed him a lot of detail about our days (some might call it excessive detail…). I sent him a photos constantly. Every time he pulled into port, he had numerous videos to download. When I had a conversation with our amazing pediatrician, or had read something in a book about an upcoming parenting decision, I filled him in and asked for his thoughts.

Long term, I think it would have been harmful for our family if I’d taken the mentality of “I’m a single mom” (what happens when he comes home? What does that say about his role as a dad during deployment?) or that he “missed that time” (this is not going to be the only deployment during Ellie’s life, do we set the tone that he is just absent for long stretches of her life?). We were really focused that this deployment was laying a foundation in so many ways – even though Ellie was too young to remember it, Ryan and I knew we’d build habits for our family and wanted to be intentional about as many of them as we could be.

Another choice I made in my language was how I responded to a question I got asked A LOT over the course of the deployment. In one way or another, I was often responding to this sentiment: “Wow that must be SO hard, how do you do it?” This is such a complicated question/statement. First of all, frankly, a lot of the people asking it were doing so as a gut reaction and probably didn’t want the length of answer really needed to respond (do you have the next hour for me to really fairly answer that? J) I also knew, in some ways they were forming impressions about military life/all military spouses and that I had a responsibility in how I answered.

What I came to was this – I acknowledged the truth – that it is really hard. I missed Ryan so much, it was heartbreaking to not have him hold Ellie for all those months, that I was often tired and weary – but that didn’t change the fact that we were really proud of him, grateful for the chance to be a military family and in so many ways, this deployment was a necessary part of our lives. In terms of how I do it – it all sounds cliché, but with prayer, one day at a time, by taking runs most evenings, often having a glass of wine at the end of the day, by leaning on friends – a thousand different ways.

We all know words matter – and especially on these two points, I wanted to choose mine carefully.

*above is a video e & i sent ryan during deployment -- i couldn't think of what photo would go with this post & then all of the sudden remembered this video, really the only of it's kind. i hope it sunk in a bit for ellie & that ryan knew how very much we meant those words.

if you're just joining this series, my husband just got home from his first deployment, you can find the intro post here & all the posts here!

Thursday
Nov222012

gratitude.

it seems appropriate on thanksgiving that I’d try to put into words the gratitude we have for our friends & family who surrounded us with so much love during this first deployment.

this is an imperfect analogy, but you know how when you’re running a race, there are stretches when you’re all alone? and that's ok -- there’s space to breathe and soak up your surroundings, really process the race you’re running – but after a while, it gets lonely and you get tired. that’s when you need that next cheering section, water station, or homemade sign telling you to press on. well, that’s what our friends & family did during this deployment – when we’d just run uphill or were out of breath or desperately needed some nourishment, they met us with such giving, encouraging hearts. to give you a sense of the depth and breadth of their acts of kindness, here’s a partial list of what we’re oh so grateful for:

thank you for welcoming us into your home – for feeding us, enduring baby cries waking you up at all hours & making us feel a part of your lives. thank you for babysitting Ellie – for giving her such sweet attention so I could go to a yoga class, sit in a coffee shop, get a pedicure. thank you for checking on all three of us – emails, cards & care packages to Ryan, calls/text/emails to me. it meant so much to know you were thinking of us.

thank you for your prayers – some of you prayed each day for our family, others were there when I’d send a text with a really specific request – we truly felt surrounded by your prayers. thank you for inviting us to pizza friday each and every week at your house – it became such an important benchmark in our weeks. thank you for being willing to eat dinner at 5:30 so I could get E home for bed. thank you for driving us to the airport, picking us up from the airport, meeting us as weary travellers, reassuring me I really could do one. more. flight.

to my parents, who took ellie & i into their home for two weeks in july & two weeks in september, we wouldn't have made it without you. our indiana getaways can be summed up in the way we looked arriving (tired, worn out, exhausted), versus on the plane headed back (rested, happy, encouraged). you provided meals, wonderful conversation, long walks, adventures, a warm home & so much love. thank you for being there every step of the way.

thank you for pitching in – for installing baby gates, mowing our lawn, texting/calling each time you were headed to the grocery to see if you could grab us something.  thank you to the very brave not yet a day friend for flying back from dallas with the stroller caddy when I left it there. 

to all the guy friends who held ellie & gave her some guy time, thank you. to the sweet friends who insisted I have their extra Kindle – it was a saving grace for late night reading when I was sharing a room with e or on the plane when she finally fell asleep in my arms. you are so generous.

thank you for dropping off baked goods on our porch with a sweet note – it completely brightened my day. thank you for sending me home with leftovers – it saved me from walking in the kitchen after I put Ellie down the next night and sighing thinking “what on earth am I going to have for dinner?” thank you for your genuine encouragement – for lifting me up when I couldn’t quite muster the strength. thank you for answering my tearful late night phone call & just listening -- not trying to solve anything.

thank you for taking care of that dead cockroach that had been under Ryan’s boot for a few days because I could not-clean-up-one-more-dead-cockroach. thank you for taking our lawn mower in to get cleaned when I oh-so-wisely put gasoline in the oil tank – I promise never mow the lawn again. thank you for coming to our house to make dinner for me & hang out so I didn’t have to be alone or get a babysitter that night. thank you for going to four drugstores trying to find the right nasal aspirator when E & I were battling colds.

thank you for coming to visit and immediately tackling the pile of dishes in the sink or folding the clean laundry or running errands with me. thank you for waking up early & taking ellie on a walk (even if I accidentally locked you out of the house!) to the dear friend who came and not only helped me do about a thousand things for a baby shower I was hosting; but who also potted two mums; ran to get a rug pad I’d completely forgotten and who was with me at midnight trying to get a new rug under our VERY heavy bed, laughing hysterically we could be smushed like bugs at any moment – I truly love you & owe you one. to the friend who literally pulled out ten bags of vines/weeds/overgrowth from our backyard: you're the best.

to the navy wives who also had husbands deployed at the same time -- who prayed alongside me, who gave me the knowing hug when our babies had lost their minds & so had we, who met for a spontaneous lunch or dinner, and who inspired me every day by your strength -- i'm so very grateful to you.

to the navy wife who was in her third trimester of pregnancy and had a 20 month old, but who insisted on watching ellie each thursday so I could go to my favorite yoga class – you’re my hero. to all the friends who checked in on me during Hurricane Sandy, who texted, called, prayed, came over, offered to build a canoe from toothpicks, who identified themselves as “strong swimmers” – thank you for caring for us! to the friends who came to watch Ellie & drive me to the hospital to meet a dear friend's new baby at low tide -- during the hurricane -- y'all are rockstars. to the friends who came over with wine in hand each & every time ryan was extended, thank you.

& readers, i owe you a thank you -- because this blank canvas, this space to write was such a blessing to me over those months. it gave me a creative outlet, a way to process & a community i've come to cherish so much. you cheered us on in your own way & it meant so much.

i hesitate to thank people by name, because there are honestly so many I’d love to thank, but there are a few families who I can literally not imagine this deployment without. thinking of their generosity to our family, on essentially a daily basis during the deployment, brings tears to my eyes and was such saving grace. I hope that in some small way, we can extend the kindness back to you – know that you’re truly family to us. to those families (you know who you are): we love you so much– thank you for sticking with us every step of the way.

photo above was in one of the very first moments the three of us were together at ryan's homecoming -- lots more homecoming photos coming soon (yay!), but it is not an exaggeration to say that our family wouldn't have made it to that moment without all the acts of kindness above.

if you're just joining this series, my husband just got home from his first deployment, you can find the intro post here & all the posts here!

Wednesday
Nov212012

running.

 

 

As you might remember, my pregnancy with Ellie was incredibly challenging. Because I threw up multiple times a day for 16+ weeks of pregnancy, when I came out of that time, I really went to yoga for my wellness for the remainder of pregnancy. After a really challenging delivery, it was months before I was cleared for physical exercise. So, when Ryan deployed in May, I was just even thinking about taking up running again. It was the longest I’d gone in my life not running – a tool that had always been a way of processing life, getting clarity, dealing with stress, being well.

I could have never anticipated it, but Ryan deploying was the best thing that could have happened to re-start my running in a hurry. When we got back from North Carolina, that first weekend after he deployed, that Monday felt REALLY long. Around 4 p.m. it set in that, well, it was just me. There was no Ryan coming in the door that night, or any night for the foreseeable future. Bedtime was still HOURS away. So, I put Ellie in the BOB stroller and took off. And so began a ritual we continued almost every night of deployment. Sometime between 4 and 6 p.m., I’d look at Ellie, smile and say, “ok, let’s go.” And off we went on a well-worn path. It was so good for both of us. Here’s why:

For me, the fresh air was restorative, the rhythm I could get into would actually quiet my mind, the music on my ipod would propel me forward – and by the end, my heart would feel more at peace, I’d be filled back up with energy for Ellie and have a clearer mind for the night ahead. Things I didn’t even realize had been bugging me dissipated. “It is well with my soul” summarized what I felt when our stroller made the final turn onto our street and our house was in sight.

For Ellie, while she couldn’t tell me how she felt about it, my mama’s intuition told me it was one of her favorite parts of the day. You see, E has a hard time sitting still. She’s not one of those contemplative kids – if she’s not literally asleep or in her crib – she is ON THE MOVE. Crawling across the room, pulling up, dragging toys with her, shrieking with delight – she is VERY busy. And as she took fewer naps, I could tell that the stroller time became a chance for her to be awake & still. She had this window on the world – much of our route was along the water, the scenery was constantly changing, we’d see dogs and neighbors and boats! (oh my!) She sat back and took it all in. Sometimes, we’d stop at the swings (there were two playgrounds on our route!) which was a real favorite of hers. When we got back to our house, we’d sit on the front porch together & have a little chat. It became a really special part of our day.

Finally, the running became a great way of processing the actual deployment. First of all, there is one big hill I do twice on my run. Obviously, it’s a whole lot easier to go down than up, and as we started to get close to the half way point of deployment and then when we were clearly in the second half, I really tried to focus on that as I ran downhill. I reminded myself that we were running towards Ryan, towards having him home & that even if it didn’t always feel like it, it was getting easier, we were getting closer. Lots of days I really needed that reminder – I literally needed to go run downhill.

The second big metaphor for me actually came with a funny story. Around the end of September – so Ellie was fully nine months old and Ryan had been gone more than four months, I started having trouble with my BOB stroller. One of the wheels shook when we were going downhill, it didn’t seem to go straight most of the time --I just felt something was off. My good friend Heather is the most amazing running mama I know and she recommended a local bike shop that’d already fixed her BOB numerous times. I said great, that I’d take it in, but like a lot of things, life got busy and it didn’t happen.

I really wanted to run one day and finally looked down and thought, “it kinda looks like that tire needs air.” (I’m clearly fit to be a rocket scientist). I pushed my hand into the tire and sure enough the tire was literally completely out of air. Our neighbors had a bike pump and Heather came to help me fill my tires with air. She asked me when the last time I put air in was, I responded, “Literally never. Not since we got it.” She told me with the amount we were running, I was supposed to be putting air in EVERY WEEK! I’d been pushing a stroller for months with almost no air in the tires. Awesome.

When I went on that first run after filling up the tires with air, I felt like Lightening McQueen. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to push that thing! Of course, it’d happened over time, so I’d just adjusted slowly to how hard it was to push that stroller. I don’t need to make all the almost cheesy life lessons that come from this – but it was also a moment when I needed to be reminded that just like it’s really hard to push a stroller without air – it’s really hard to go through life when you feel like your tires are empty. This deployment had forced me to really grow in how I thought about keeping my tires full of air – it had deepened friendships in my life, dramatically changed my prayer life, humbled me completely by seeing just how much “help” I need from others & shown me just how much I had to be grateful for.

Now, we're excited for some family runs!

p.s. E & I had some adventures running – so if you happened to see us sprinting to beat a thunderstorm on our tail, or running in the 10 minutes between crazy thunderstorms or doing laps on the streets around our house, thanks for understanding that we just kinda had to be out there!

if you're just joining this series, my husband just got home from his first deployment, you can find the intro post here & all the posts here!

Tuesday
Nov202012

benefits of deployment.

This is probably a weird concept to many of you – how could there possibly be benefits of having your husband gone for months on end? But I actually think it’s a really important topic and something I was grateful other military wives spoke candidly about with me. Let me be clear, while all of these things were unexpected benefits of this season in life for our family, I would have given them all up to have Ryan home with us for the past six months. I’m not a military wife who is “excited about deployments” or “looks forward to them” or “wishes my husband would deploy,” – that’s just not me. But I also don’t believe in having a season in life where you don’t focus on the incredible opportunities it contained and blessings you found. So, here were some I found:

 

DEEPENED FRIENDSHIPS

Probably the most stunning thing to me about this deployment was how it deepened my friendships with a few military wives in particular. They weren’t necessarily women I met through Ryan’s squadron and their husbands weren’t necessarily deployed at the same time, but they understand this life, they met me so consistently in this season & quite simply we did life together – we raised our kids, and broke bread, drank wine, told stories, texted, ran, walked, hung out on our front yards, prayed – together. Most of them had been through a deployment before, all of them had encouragement, love & a sense of humor they offered so generously. Along with my faith and our little family, these women are what I can’t imagine this deployment without. I’m grateful for the nights they kept me company after Ellie went to bed; the times they fed me a meal or met me for one; the wonderful mothering advice they gave so freely; the encouragement and strength that poured out of them. I will never forget it and hope so much I can offer them a bit of in the days & deployments to come for them. You know who you are – I love y’all.

 

TIME TO TACKLE PROJECTS

When Ryan deployed, I made a list of house projects/life projects I wanted to tackle before he came home. I painted our dining room & hung things on the wall. I completely re-did our bedroom (which was a surprise for him! more on that in a post to come!). I worked on some family photo albums. I miraculously kept seven tomato plants alive for the first time ever! I organized basically every closet in our house (pre-homecoming nesting is real folks!). These projects helped me mark the passage of time. As they came closer to completion, Ryan’s homecoming became all the more real.

LEARN THINGS (even if I didn’t mean to)

I want to say at the outset, I’m a big believer in not taking over all the tasks your husband usually does. I don’t know about you, but my plate is full when Ryan is home – no need to burn myself out in the first few weeks of deployment. Some things were going to have to fall to me (I couldn’t have anyone else manage all our finances, etc.), but for most of the things Ryan usually handled, I relied on others. I hired a neighbor to mow the lawn. When things broke, I called a friend or our handyman (I wouldn’t have been much help anyway...). That said, a few times, I was on a mission & decided to take on the tast myself. So, one day I did watch a youtube video on how to use a drill. Then proceeded to hang Ellie’s mobile (It’d been on backorder for months & I couldn’t wait to hang it!). A week later she ripped it out of the ceiling (it’s still unclear if she has super human strength or if I did a terrible job hanging it). Either way, I decided to wait for Ryan to be home to re-hang it. One day, I really wanted to mow the lawn. I thought it would be a good rite of passage. Only trouble was I knew it needed gas, and though I was able to borrow some, it didn’t end well. No one gave me the memo that lawnmowers have both oil & gas tanks (feel free to laugh),  so I put the gas in the oil tank. This halted my hopes of mowing the lawn very quickly. Another time, we had an inordinate number of cockroaches. I learned that I can kill a lot of cockroaches in one morning (I had to defend our house!). The camp counselor in me was super brave. Most of these just made funny stories, but they also felt like rites of passage & made me even more excited for Ryan to get home!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov192012

some nights.

And then, as all you military wives know, there are just those nights of a deployment that are particularly painful.

Some nights all I could do after I put Ellie to bed was collapse on the couch with a glass of wine. Or bowl of Ben & Jerry’s. Or both. And that was dinner. I’d barely be able to keep my eyes open to scan some of my favorite blogs or watch a TV episode on my computer, but I refused to go to bed yet, because this was the one part of my day for me and I really needed it. 

Some nights, I’d crawl into bed to email Ryan or just sit their and listen to the Jeremy Camp Pandora station & part of me would breathe deeply & relax, the other part of me would know the 1 a.m., 4 a.m. & 7 a.m. cries were all mine. They had been for two months and would be for the foreseeable future.

Some nights, I was missing Ryan so much it felt hard to breathe – I couldn’t even remember what it was like to have him there next to me, to sit with him & share a meal or talk about our days.

Some nights, I’d be holding Ellie as she was screaming (teeth? a nightmare?) at 2 a.m., wondering if she was ever going to stop, being so tired I could barely stand & missing Ryan so much I felt the tears running down my cheeks.

So many military wives had told me you’ll “get in a routine” and they were right, but I finally asked one of them, “is that just a nice way of saying it gets normal he isn’t there?!!!” She nodded emphatically yes. That was the unsaid sad truth about deployments – most wives I know got in a routine, and time did start to move faster, but it was because they had created a way to do things without the one person they wanted most to be there. This all struck me on a night, about half way through deployment, when I was watching one of the videos of Ryan reading to Ellie and he felt farther away than he ever had. We did have a routine we settled into, and it worked, time was finally moving, but it didn’t make his absence any less glaring.

As I’ve mentioned, so much of me anticipated/worried about deployments wondering what the secret was to survival – how did you do it? I asked an absurd number of military wives that question, expecting to they could give me an answer neatly wrapped in a bow  (to all of you, I’m really sorry). I really thought someone could give me a list or books to read or set of strategies that if followed, would work. What I learned was what so many tried to tell me – there’s no secret, like so many things in life, you just put one foot in front of the other; if you’re a person of faith, you pray really hard; and the reality is you don’t have the strength until you need it.

I’m focusing these posts on what got us through it, on the practical things that helped us, on the stories that capture what this was like for us – I’m trying to be as authentic as I possibly can – striking a balance between being honest, and encouraging, while not glossing over how truly difficult deployments are. I know none of you come to t&f to hear me complain, but I also know you expect me to be transparent & vulnerable – my hope is the few posts I wrote like this one, which were honestly sort of painful to write, let you know that while this deployment was not a miserable season in our lives & there is much to be grateful for, it did push us to the end of our rope more than once – that’s really important to acknowledge. 

*above photo: me collapsed on couch, with oatmeal for dinner, looking at that photo of us as a reminder of what this was all about -- baby monitor in the background, of course :)

if you're just joining this series, my husband just got home from his first deployment, you can find the intro post here & all the posts here!

Friday
Nov162012

weary.

And then there was this season of deployment – the best way I know how to describe it is Ryan & I were both simply weary. We’d just gotten through what we thought was the half way point, but rumors of extension (that means coming back later than the initial homecoming date we’d been given – it happens ALL the time in the military) made me wonder when (or if ever) we would actually be half way. When would the downhill part start?

At the same time, Ellie’s sleeping was terrible – my amazing newborn sleeper turned into a 7 month old that woke up at 11 p.m., 1 a.m., 3 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and for good at 7:30 a.m. (if I was lucky – often earlier). She couldn’t sleep anywhere but her crib. I was trying to start weaning her, putting in all the effort required to try to figure out solids, paying really close attention to her growth, worrying about things like any other new mom – and feeling like a fish out of water.

Meanwhile, Ryan was flying a TON, got sick for the first time & just had really limited time to communicate. All of this coincided with a moment when we also both had run out of steam.

I’m sure many of you have read about the five love languages – Ryan and I use the language of “running on empty” to mean our “tanks” are really low. When we haven’t had enough time together, or haven’t been loving each other well or haven’t been intentional enough about our marriage – we both feel it. Deployment intensifies the possibilities for that and puts numerous road blocks up in terms of ever “filling your tanks.”

We both have what could be the worst love language for a military couple – quality time (for those of you not familiar, the five are: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, quality time). The first two months, for the most part, we defied the odds – we, through a lot of effort, were able to feel like we were getting quality time, even if we were half a world apart (see this post on the practical things we did for our marriage). Skype dates, even if we lost connection 40 times in an hour, were still able to fill that bucket. It felt like “us” even if it was hard to hear each other, we had pixilated images and our conversation was interrupted countless time. Emails that felt like a conversation on our couch after E went to bed made us feel close to one another. Mail was something tangible we could hold onto. We clung to it all.

By August though, one word kept coming to mind: weary. As I’ve talked to other military spouses, I think most deployments include a period (or many) like this. Whether it’s because of a baby, a job, another situation or just general exhaustion from the emotional toll any deployment requires – you’re just weary. In some ways, it’s a more subtle emotion then some of the other phases lots of deployments go through (anger, grief, sadness, loneliness), but weariness is tough. It also shines a light on how different your realities are – one of the central challenges of loving each other through deployment is how incredibly different your experiences are. What was so hard for me during this deployment, by and large wasn’t an issue for Ryan (sleepless nights; constantly doubting my mothering decisions/responsibilities; taking care of our house/finances/life) and of course, I knew nothing of what was so hard for Ryan (not being able to hold his baby girl for months on end; being away from essentially everything and everyone who is familiar to him, flying countless hours, constantly being pushed mentally/physically as a pilot, etc.). If you think about it – we both had literally never been where the other person was – I’d never been to the part of the world where Ryan was deployed, never even spent a night on a ship, have never even ridden in a helicopter, let alone flown one, never spent a day in the military. Likewise, Ellie is our first baby – Ryan has never been a stay at home parent, never cared for a 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 month old, never had a spouse deploy, never weaned (probably never will!) a baby or done sleep training (one of the most miserable things ever to do alone).

So, though we both were weary – the underlying issues were so different. We had to dig so deep in our marriage – this meant meeting each other where we were while leaving judgment at the door, having grace when one of us was short/snarky, and reminding each other of just how strong our bond was. Running and yoga were huge for me – they would settle my heart, give some clarity to my mind, bring me the bit of peace I needed.

There’s that song/book “Going on a Bear Hunt” that I’ve read with Ellie a bunch of times – it’s about all the mountains, rivers, etc you need to get through – and you “can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it – gotta go through it!” There’s no better way to put what this season was like – you can’t do much to make it more comfortable, we just had to get through it.

During this season, I was being really productive during Ellie’s naptime on pinterest (ha!) and decided to do a search for deployment. I came across this quote: “when I say I’m tired, I actually mean I’m sad.” It hit me like a ton of bricks – I hadn’t been able to put that into words. That was in part because, being sad is not a really familiar place for me. We all have emotions we tend toward – some of us are more anxious, enthusiastic, quiet, shy, excitable, etc. Well, sad is just not an emotion where I log a lot of time, but this deployment had me dwelling there – and of course I was a new mom, so I spent a lot of time talking about how tired I was. This quote reminded me that sometimes I needed to acknowledge that tiredness was mixed with weariness & that it was helpful to realize it was ok to be sad Ryan was gone.

This post was really hard to write – in part because it’s just hard to put these kinds of feelings into words without sounding trite. That said, I really wanted to write it in case one military spouse read it and knew she was feeling was something others did too. So, if you’re reading this, and your husband is deployed, and you’re weary – hang in there. Ask for help. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Get a massage. Go get your favorite meal. Curl up with a book you just love. This too will pass – he’ll be home soon, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.

*photo above: sometimes, instead of tackling my to do list when E finally went down for a nap, I'd make myself a latte & curl up on the couch with something I'd wanted to read -- that bit of respite was so often what I needed.

if you're just joining this series, my husband just got home from his first deployment, you can find the intro post here & all the posts here!