Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's official...

...Chet is on deployment.  He actually left last Monday (the day before my birthday, ha!), but I wanted to wait until he was safely at his destination before blogging about it.  It's surreal that deployment is finally here, but Chet and I both are so glad that it is, because now we can start the countdown to his return home!

I'm both at a loss for words and filled to the brim with things to say about deployment.  I'm not sure how many people who read this blog have had experience with deployments.  Probably not many, so I'll do my best to describe the feelings that accompany such a long separation from your spouse: it stinks!  Seriously, it does.  But at the same time, it's a part of our lives that we (hopefully gracefully) deal with and get through.  Deployment is something that always looms on the horizon.  Sometimes it feels very far away (like during a homecoming or when Chet is on shore duty and not in a deployable status), but sometimes it feels like it's suffocating you (that's how it's felt since we moved to Gulfport, even though when we moved here deployment was still six months away).  And let me tell you, the anticipation of a deployment, especially the last couple of weeks before it begins, is terrible.  The stress level is high, both for Chet at work (he was working 18-hour days) and for both of us at home.  There are always a million things to get done before he leaves, and an insufficient about of time to do them. It gets to the point where you want nothing more than for deployment to begin, because anything is better than such ridiculous stress and the emotions that make you both act a little crazy.

I think the reason pre-deployment is so stressful (besides the long work days) is because there is this unspoken pressure to enjoy (ha!) the last couple of weeks before deployment.  You feel like you should be taking long walks on the beach and curling up on the couch in the evenings, sipping tea and sharing your hearts with one another.  The weekends should be filled with joyful, stress-free trips to the children's museum and the park, with your perfectly behaved toddler and infant in tow.  (Ha!  Okay, now you know I'm being ridiculous!)  But in reality, the "honey do" list is a mile long, the evenings are spent going through paperwork and packing and late-night trips to Walmart for deployment supplies, and your toddler and infant still need to eat, take naps, and be disciplined (well, not the infant, but you get what I mean).  As you can see, it is very difficult impossible to just sit back and "enjoy" the pre-deployment days. You're tricked into thinking that if you don't do the perfect things and say the perfect things before he leaves, then you've failed. There is simply no good way to deal with it--you just have to endure it.  And it's always the same, for every deployment and for every family (I probably shouldn't speak for ALL families, but I'm sure the majority would agree).

Okay, that was depressing, so let me say this.  As hard as it is to say goodbye to your husband, knowing you won't see him for more than half a year, there is value in the separation.  Obviously, what Chet is doing on deployment is valuable...that is an understatement.  And the time I spend without him at home with the girls is a time for us to bond and for me to be stretched to my a good way.  I learn a lot about myself, usually that I can handle a heck of a lot more than I ever thought I could (when Chet was in Djibouti in 2010, I moved to a new house without him...while I was working full time and had a sick 8-month old on my hands...I'm still amazed I made it through that experience!).  Also, it is a time for me to band together with the other lovely wives and their children, creating friendships that are strong beyond belief and that will last a lifetime.

Back to what Chet is doing on deployment.  Here is a link to NMCB 11's official blog, specifically to a post written by Chet's Commanding Officer.  It explains the Battalion's mission while they are in Afghanistan.  (NMCB stands for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion.  And, yes, Chet is in Afghanistan.)

I am so proud of all the Seabees do, and that Chet has the opportunity to serve our country.  But, sometimes it doesn't feel fair that MY husband has to be the one to spend months at a time away from us on the other side of the (dangerous) world.  Why us?  But then I remember the great country we have the privilege to call home, and realize that Chet is EXACTLY the person who should be serving our country.  I am willing to make the sacrifice so that others can enjoy their long walks on the beach, curl up together on the couch sipping tea, and take those trips to the park with their children...although find me ONE perfectly behaved toddler in a children's museum, and I'll give you a million dollars!


Casey said...

Oh Ash, I didn't know he was going to Afghanistan!! I will keep him (as well as you and the girls) in my prayers for a safe trip and return home!!! I can't wait to see you!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Will keep Chet is my prayers for his safety as well as those he works with. I have a friend that has 5 kids under 7th grade....her husband is in Afghanistan right now (has been gone a year and will be home the end of next month) - it is his 4th deployment during their marriage..I tell you, I admire all of you wives (and husbands) that have their spouses deployed...esp with little ones. THANK YOU Chet! Hang in there, Ashley - I pray these 6 months go by quickly, and be thankful it is not a year ;-) LOve you all!
Aunt Shannon