This is that uncomfortable time frame when you are preparing for deployment. Mindsets are shifting; practical preparations need to be made, nervousness and questions abound as the calendar ticks down to good-bye day. I have found this to be a very difficult time. My husband would be going back and forth for multiple training missions for a few weeks at a time, so he was in and out for months prior to deployment. While this may have seemed to some as good practice leading up to deployment, it was actually harder because we were unable to settle into a routine. Neither was he, and we would finally get to a point of just wishing the deployment would start, so we could start counting down to the end.
If you find yourself in this time frame, I would encourage you to remember just a few things.
Look at the big picture. Understand that your feelings are normal and that it is all part of a process. Just knowing that there is a predictable cycle can be helpful in taking the sting out of your emotions.
Educate and prepare yourself. Be proactive in reading about deployment issues. This information is readily available on many websites, books and through the military. Educating yourself about deployment will remove some of the power of fear.
Grace. For yourself and your family. It will be a roller-coaster of emotions. Be ready to be forgiving and patient.
The pre-deployment stage is HARD. Unless you are military, you don't understand. During the training cycle (pre-deployment), I have had people ask me how long is he going to be gone? I usually can't give a very accurate answer and since we shouldn't really be talking about ship's movement...I usually give a very generic answer. Sometimes, I might say, "a week or two." To which I get a response, "Oh! That's not that bad!" To which I just want to say, "Really? You think it's not that bad? How about next week when he leaves for 2 weeks, or a couple weeks after that when he leaves for 10 weeks, or how about when he gets to come home after that for only a few weeks and then leave again? How about when he misses 3 of his kids birthdays...is that bad enough? How about when after all these not too bad LITTLE away times he leaves for 8 months or more?" I'm not mad or anything, I know that if you are not military, you don't know you shouldn't say things like that. So I just smile and say, "Nope, not too bad." One week may not seem bad, but when you add it all up...even one week is hard. These shorter underway times are not good practice...they just make it harder. You know they are going to be leaving for a long time and all you want to do is spend every moment with them. Instead they are gone more then they are home and you get very little of them at all. And when he is home, he's trying to do things around the house to make life easier for me when he leaves again...when all I really want is for him to snuggle with me on the couch and talk.
It's hard to get into a routine when he is coming and going so much. When he's home, we don't want to do anything with anyone else...we want to hibernate! But we can't always do that every time he comes and goes. The kids have end of the year stuff going on at church and baseball and we can't just back out of everything because Daddy is home again. It's different when he comes home from deployment, it's great to take a break from everything then...but we can't do that during pre-deployment...it's just not practical!
During the moments that he is home, I need to make sure that we are taking care of business stuff too. We have to get a Power of Attorney and make sure all the bills are in my name and discuss car stuff and lawn stuff and money stuff and figure out how much money he can take out each month to have with him and talk about expectations for communication.
So that brings us to her 3 steps. Look at the big picture - my feelings are normal!! That's good to know! Lol, I know that they are and that we go through this before every deployment. It's a little harder this time around since we just had 3 years of shore duty. But I know that all this is normal and this too shall pass.
Educate and prepare yourself...now this one I am really good at!! This will be our 5th deployment so I know the ropes, but I still read everything as a refresher!
Grace. Such a little word that means so much. Have grace with myself and my family. Have grace with my friends, who maybe don't get it, but they love me so much and just want to support me in any way they can. And grace that God has for me too. I wouldn't be able to do ANY of this without the grace of God. His mercies are new every morning!! When people ask me, "How do you do it?" I know that it's because God gives me what I need every morning to get through that day...no matter which stage of the deployment we are in! I thank the Lord for my wonderful husband whom I love and who is patient with me when times are hard and emotions are overflowing, I am thankful for my children who bring so much joy to my life, I am thankful for my family and friends that support me emotionally from afar, and I am thankful for my new friends here who will support me during each stage of this new deployment and be my Aaron and Hur when I feel like I can't do it anymore.
I don't like this pre-deployment stage, it's hard, but I know that with God's grace, we will get through this and deployment and reintegration.