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:
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.