by Amanda, Military Spouse and Exchange Guest Blogger
We all hear about how soldiers coming back from a deployment are different. The things they endure, the things they see and participate in, through no fault of their own, changes who they are. But we hardly hear about how a deployment changes a spouse who is back home. I didn’t fight in a war, my life was never truly in danger, and I still had all the comforts of home. But being alone for 15 months, being both mom and dad, and doing everything on my own…that all changed who I am.
Deployments shake every aspect of your life to its very core. Things that you thought you could never do suddenly become second nature. I never thought I could raise my kids on my own, but I did it for 2 deployments. The first was 13 months, the second was almost 15. I’ve been rocked by random knocks on the door by men in uniform, only to open it and find it was an MP looking for a neighbor. I’ve been on the other end of a phone call where sirens suddenly go off, my husband yells, and the line goes dead. I’ve gone through periods of no phone calls, no emails, and I still had to wake up, take care of a house and several small children. I know the answer to questions I never wanted to have to ask. I know where he wants to be buried, who he wants to carry his casket, and what songs he wants played at his funeral. I’ve been to the airport to both welcome him home, and watch him walk away again. The joy and relief felt at welcome home ceremonies is overwhelming.
I’m not in the Army, but deployments changed who I am. I no longer take the little things for granted. It’s amazing how well you learn to communicate when sometimes you have to do it in a 15 minute phone call. I no longer complain when he kicks his feet to fall asleep–a habit that used to drive me nuts. And most nights, if I can do it without waking him up, I lay my hand on his chest just to feel it rise and fall with every breath, and to feel the steady heartbeat inside. Those are little things that I missed the most. No, I am not who I am before the deployments. I like to think that I’m wiser, more appreciative, and STRONGER.
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The opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.