As our nation’s military serves around the world, many leave wives and children back at home. Brooklyn D. Armstead reflects on the reality of being a newlywed military wife during the holidays as her husband approaches his first deployment.
It must have been in 2013 when I was at Ma and Mama’s (my grandmother and great-grandmother’s) home and we were watching Army Wives. I LOVED that show, but the first thing that flew out my mouth was, “I would never date anyone in the military.” I thought about how the wives were mothering alone as their husbands were gone, and how, sometimes, soldiers would show up to the home stating that a family had lost a loved one. I knew from the sight of this, that this was just not the life for me. Well, fast forward to 2018 and I am not only married to a Captain in the Army, but we have two beautiful children.
Moral of the story… never say never.
So much like the storyline in Army Wives, the clock is now ticking for our family as well! We are just a few months away from the children and I having to say our “See you soons” (not goodbyes) to our military man. My husband is set to deploy for over a year. This has been very hard on me, especially now, around the holidays. I am trying my best to enjoy the moment and be mindful, but it makes it hard when all I can think about is how he will not be present for any holiday next year.My husband will miss our daughter’s third birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our son’s second birthday, and all the events that fall in between. He will miss the small moments where the kids learn new words or the silly things that come out of their mouths. This will be his first deployment, and who knows if going forward other deployments will become any easier. There have been random moments in which we are just sitting on the couch hanging out and I have burst into tears because I randomly think of how he will be gone. I told him just yesterday, I am going to miss having my best friend with me. The man who keeps me sane. I owe him a co-pay per visit because he is always acting as my counselor.
At the same time, I fully recognize that I am only looking at this from my perspective. I know that he has a million things on his mind and his own anxieties about leaving his family for a year. This is not helped by his already having to be away frequently for deployment readiness training. (I tell him, all the time, that he is always gone to better prepare him for actually being gone.) One of the things that my husband has openly expressed to me is that family life versus military life can be difficult for him at times.
He comes home from a completely structured environment to a screaming two-year-old telling him “NO!” He has learned that military life works for that environment but does not always work in the real world. He has also learned to grow more patient with his children, as well as with me, because at the end of the day, he realizes that we are not his soldiers.
We do not have this thing fully figured out, but, the great part is, we are both willing to work at it.
Both of us are nervous as to what life will be like once he is gone and even once he returns from being gone for a year. Still, we are trying not to focus on that dread and instead focus on the present. This Christmas means everything to us as we are realizing that next year will be completely different with Daddy being gone. We are cherishing this time together. We will also be celebrating our son’s FIRST birthday just four days after Christmas. We have so much to be thankful for, and that is our greatest gift.
I am fully aware that this is the perspective of ONE military wife, however, I know there are many women who understand my pain. Some husbands may travel often for work or must work long hours where it leaves their wives often feeling alone. It is important that we are supporting one another and validating each other’s feelings. I pray that everyone has a wonderful holiday season and knows that we are not alone in any hardships we face.
This story was originally published in December 2018.