Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not "Goodbye", Just "See You Later"

As the days until Private Ryan's ship-out come into the single digit numbers, I am reading more and more blogs, frantically trying to take in all that I can about deployments and other military separations. I hadn't really thought of his leaving for AIT as a deployment ... in fact, every time the comparison even threatened to enter my mind, I would shove it out because Oklahoma is a lot different from Iraq. New Mexico is, too, and I felt presumptuous thinking of this as a deployment. But talking with a friend, she said something to me about this being our first deployment and I was a little surprised considering all that she had been through in her career as an Army wife. Deployment ... It sounds so serious, and it is. But for this situation, I wasn't ever really sure if it applied.

I'm sure there are other women in the world who feel the same as my friend ... It is a deployment in some ways because it means he will be gone, training to fight in a war should he ever be needed in that capacity. It is a deployment because it means I will be alone with my children, raising them the best way I know how, and trying to get through until we see him again. But there are other wives who would vehemently disagree. This is not a deployment because he is not going to war ... yet. He is not going somewhere terribly dangerous. I don't have to be afraid when someone knocks on my door or when my phone rings. He may be training for war, but he isn't going ... yet. Hopefully we are among the lucky few, and he won't go at all.

Whatever side of the fence you might be on, it feels like a deployment to me because I have no other real experience with this type of thing. And although I don't have to be afraid that I will get him back "in a box", I am afraid of what this time apart means to our family. I have a lot of fears, a lot of questions. What will he be like when we see him again? What will my children be like, and how much will they have changed without him? What will I be like? Will we feel "together" as a couple even though we will be so far apart geographically? I am a fairly independent woman ... I know that I will get through it and I will be okay. I will take care of my daughters, I will do the grocery shopping and pump the gas. I will cook and clean, diaper and nurse. I will hug and kiss, bathe and love.

But in the quiet of the night when the house is silent and I can hear Private Ryan snoring next to me, I wonder how I will sleep in the silence without him there. I wonder how much we will feel like a couple when we are together again. I wonder if he will find some man-eating tramp in a bar off post and decide he likes her for a little while and ruin everything we've worked so hard for. I worry that I will go just a little crazy when I am here all alone without ever a moment to myself.

So I've been reading. I've been learning everything I can about how to get through things like this. I found a great post today, about what to do beforehand to prepare, and what to do during to best use the time instead of wasting it on the couch with a box of tissues.

Here is my before checklist:
  1. Pictures: Take a photo of each of the girls with their daddy before he is gone, just a little something for them to have. Get two prints of each of them, framing each child's photo for her room and putting the extras in Private Ryan's suitcase.
  2. Videos: I have been wanting to sit with Private Ryan and make videos of him reading Teenybop and Piglet's books so that they can watch him whenever they want to. For one reason or another, this hasn't been done ... it hasn't even been started. But today I am more determined than ever to get these done for my girls. I know that they will treasure those videos long after our family is in one place, together again.
  3. Documentation: We need to print out and set up Private Ryan's POA's and get them all organized. We will also ask advice from my attorney to make sure they are legal and that we have all our bases covered. He usually handles all bill companies and bank stuff, so I will probably need something telling me which bill is in whose name, which account goes to which number, and which password is for what. In the post I linked to above, the author has a huge notebook that her husband made for her which contains all the most important documents so that she will have everything she needs right at hand when she needs it.
  4. Goals: I need a plan. I need to have certain goals set up to keep me motivated on the days when I am miserable and missing him terribly. I need to plan "field trips" for my Teenybop, to keep her busy over the summer when she will get bored and into trouble. I need to know that things will work out, and putting it on paper goes a long way to making me feel reassured. In the next few days, I will pull my calendar off the wall and start planning these trips. I want Private Ryan to know that even though we will miss him, he doesn't need to worry about us. That we aren't going to collapse into helpless girlie puddles of jello because he is gone. I want him to know that I am doing a good job with the children, and that we are going to be fine so that he can concentrate in school and do his job to the best of his ability.
Today I sort of feel like my mind is a whirlwind,  I can't seem to pull a straight thought out, and everything is a jumble. I wish I had Dumbledore's pensieve so that I could pull out some of the debris and get it organized. In the meantime, this is my pensieve, the place where I can work through the noise, clear out the garbage, and safely store the collectibles.