It may be a new year and time for a fresh start, but here at the Neurotic Household, history is definitely repeating itself.
It’s like deja vu all over again.
While many well intentioned folks are excitedly recommitting themselves to going to the gym and seeking to restore order to their lives and homes, our family is feeling anything but orderly. While resolutions are being made (and possibly already being broken), in our house, to-do lists are being made and plans are being devised.
Change is a comin’.
Whether we like it or not.
Around this time last year, Craig came home from work with news which prompted me to write this post. And here I am, not even a whole year later, writing an eerily similar post. Only this time, we’re going to need a lot more lemons. It’s safe to say that we’ll be drinking lemonade for quite some time; 18 months to be exact.
I hope we don’t turn yellow.
But, on the other hand, thanks to the high doses of vitamin C lemons provide, we’ll also keep any potential scurvy outbreaks at bay.
Scurvy would be tragic.
Anyway, last year, on a chilly February morning, Craig packed up his gear and in quiet darkness, we dropped him off at the airport. He left on his birthday and narrowly escaped the back-to-back snowstorms, which dumped more snow on our area than I care to remember. He deployed for six months, which actually stretched to nearly seven months, but that is beside the point. This time, for Deployment Part Deux, Craig’s sentence has tripled.
Eighteen months. One. Eight.
That’s a whole lot of months.
It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with the details.
Let’s just say that a slot needed to be filled and Craig is the one filling it.
And do you know the worst part of it all? This decision was made while Craig was still deployed this summer. It was time to discuss his next duty station with his branch manager and he was given three very unsavory options. If you can believe it, what Craig chose is the best of the three options (or the lesser of three evils?): a one year long deployment to a far away land sandwiched between 4.5 months of training on the front end and 1.5 months of follow up stuff on the back end. It’s a deployment sandwich. The training is the bread and 12 months in the desert is the turkey, or peanut butter, or whatever your sandwich filling preference is.
To say this isn’t an ideal situation is the understatement of the century. Who gets tasked for a new deployment while currently deployed?
Here’s the scoop: at the end of the month, Craig is packing up his little green Civic and heading south where he’ll do some training for his upcoming deployment. We’ll see him for two weeks in the spring before he deploys and then for his two week mid-tour break, hopefully in January 2012, which will be around Caroline’s 10th birthday.
This is an actual permanent change of station for Craig, which typically requires the family to pack up and move, but because he’ll be deploying so shortly upon his arrival, Caroline and I are permitted to stay behind in Virginia. Otherwise, we’d have to move Caroline mid way through third grade, removing her from a wonderful school and also a great neighborhood which is packed with lots of friends for her to play with. Support, comfort, routine and friendship are imperative when your dad is going to be away for 18 months. Staying put just seems like the best choice for us. Thankfully, our landlords are more than willing to have us continue our lease in the townhouse we rent. You have no idea what a relief this is.
None of this is ideal.
None of this is particularly enjoyable, either.
But, to use a phrase I haaate: it is what it is.
I can sit here and complain and be all ‘woe is me’ and think about all the holidays and milestones that will pass while he’s gone, but it really won’t do me any good. And it certainly won’t do Craig any favors, either. I know very well that he is the one dealing with the real hardship; he’ll miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, soccer games and 4th grade math homework. I’ll be in my comfy home and bed; he’ll be living in far less welcoming conditions. I’ll have cable TV and my favorite foods at my disposal; he’ll be at the mercy of whatever the chow hall is serving that night.
Career-wise, this is a prudent move. But as far as morale goes….well, is there anything less morale boosting than being away from your family for that long? I may not be all sunshine and roses, but even my worst moments are arguably better than the conditions in the desert.
At least I hope so.
Part of me is sad for me and Caroline; mostly I’m sad for Craig. However, buried under the sadness and the massive amount of worry, I can’t help but feel proud, too. You can say what you want about war, and believe me, I have my own misgivings, but when your husband packs up his duffel bag, puts on a US Army uniform and travels to parts unknown to do the job he’s been trained to do, you can’t help but feel proud.
The road ahead is long and, at this point, the end seems as if it is nowhere in sight. It’ll be hard and it’ll be quiet. But, it’s part of the job. Uncle Sam wants what he wants and Craig is contractually obligated to oblige. When the training and deployment are all said and done, we’re ‘promised’ our first or second choice of duty stations. I say ‘promised’ because who knows what will really happen. We’re hopeful we’ll end up somewhere grand; perhaps somewhere warm and tropical. Preferably someplace where shoveling snow is unheard of.
This isn’t the post I had hoped to write at the start of a fresh new year, but it’s one that needs to be written. On the bright side, as I think about the direction of my blog this coming year, one thing is for sure: there won’t be any posts in which I complain about Craig’s clutter-bug tendencies; but also, there won’t be any Wednesday treat day posts, either. Words cannot express how sad this makes me. If you need any baked goods, please feel free to submit a request. I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands and I don’t want Ebony
to get rusty.
Even though I’ve babbled on for quite some time, there really isn’t a whole lot I can say.
Sometimes life just hands you lemons.