I got a peek at the next several months ahead of us today. You know how it is before a deployment. They are here but they aren't really here. They are training, preparing, tdy'ing (yes, I just made that a word), getting clearances, getting everything in order, etc. etc. They aren't here for much of the time that they are.
I know how frustrating that can be. I know how much we think they should be with us when they are home. Of course we want them to be here when they are here. That only makes sense.
But it isn't the reality.
You have to understand that right now. That. is. not. reality. We live a life that is not just deployment/dwell, deployment/dwell. When they are away they are very much away, but when they are home they are not always 'home'.
It is so easy to not realize that. There will be a day when your husband comes home and tells you he is leaving in a week for one month for a sudden assignment, and the month after that that he is "home" he will be training and planning training basically 24/7, and that the next month will be field time with only weekends home and so-on and so-on. And then, at the end of all this training, at the end of all this time apart while his boots have been very much on American soil, when all the preparation is done, those very same boots, those worn, high-laced boots will board a plane, fly to the other side of the world, and step foot into a desert.
Pre-deployment is hard.
Pre-deployment is very, very hard.
It is easy to become resentful. It is easy to argue that this is time that they need to be with their families most. And to a point, that's true. But, when those boots step off that plane, when those boots begin their mission, I want the man standing beside my soldier to be as well-prepared as possible, to be as well-trained as possible, to be as ready and as confident and as capable as one can be. I want these men to enter into their mission in the way that guarantees success.
That means that there will be many, many weeks and months that take them from us to prepare. You cannot grow angry with them for that. Every training, every week-long period in the field, every night-fire, every month-long assignment away is one more step to help to ensure that they come home to you. They have to be ready for what they are about to enter into.
This is where it is so hard. It is one thing to accept a deployment. To accept that they aren't here when they aren't here. It is far easier to accept the sacrifice when you can't do anything - when you don't see another option - but, to have to accept that when you see their clothes in the hamper, and their wet soap in the shower, and a half-eaten bowl of cereal on the table, to be able to smell them, to see the signs of their presence while hardly ever seeing them is harder than we dare to believe.
This is the job. This is the commitment. This is the sacrifice. We share part of ourselves with a nation.
They are at all times soldiers. They are at all times servants to their country. When they are home and when they are gone. They are always soldiers.
So when you hear those training dates, when you add up the days that they will be gone, look for that grace. Know that the preparation matters as much as the mission. Find comfort in knowing that the man beside you soldier, who will have his back, who will fight beside him, will be trained to do so.
Let go of any anger and resentment and frustration. He doesn't need that. You don't need that. Your children will pick up on it. Be with him when he is here. Love him when he is home; love him when he is not. You are strong enough for it. Your marriage is strong enough for it.
You are living this life because you are meant to. You are loving a soldier because you were made to.
Take a deep breath when you hear those dates and see that schedule. Deep, deep breath. Pray for the safety of these men; pray for the strength you are going to need. If you ask for it, if you seek it, strength and grace will get you through.