#MilitaryMonday: Staying in Touch When So Far Away
I am a military spouse. Since my husband, Rich, is in the Army Reserves, the role of military spouse does not occupy a whole lot of my head space—that is until he is deployed. We are in one of those times right now.
The number of Americans currently serving in the military is a small slice of the U.S. population—actually less than 1%. And since an estimated 59% of those serving are married, military spouses are even a smaller portion of the population. As a result, I find myself doing a lot of explaining what my husband does, how his job affects me, and the impact it has on our family.
Unlike active duty, Reserve and National Guard families often do not live anywhere near a major military installation, and with that distance, the vital link of support for us is missing—especially during deployment. True, the Army has really upped its game over the past few years with a multitude of Army Reserves Family Programs as well as 24x7x365 hotline service, Fort Family, which can speak to our unique needs. For these things, I am thankful. But the greatest resource I have are my neighbors, my co-workers, friends, and family. Many of these individuals have little to no context of life as a military spouse, but they are willing to learn, listen, and do what they can to support us while Rich is deployed.
In the last six months I have learned how to ask for help and to rely on “my village” to do things. Things like getting candy at 9:00 pm the Saturday before Easter for the boys’ baskets. Yes, that detail had somehow escaped my mind. Or asking neighborhood dads if they would throw the football around with my son on a Saturday. I had to swallow my pride on this one, because my son says I can’t toss the ball like dad can. And doing the happy dance when a co-worker prepares a dinner for us. My colleagues understand that I just don’t have it in me to make a well balanced meal every night of the week—let alone have the time.
SOTD: Rich: This is how I spend my breakfast, coffee, eggs, and a copy of Stars and Stripes
SOTD (the other half): Lisa: A leisurely breakfast of eggs and bacon while reading the paper? Not in this house.
In the last six months our family has also learned how to better communicate and share aspects of our days. Between Instant Messenger, Facetime, and videos, we appear to be in constant contact across the miles. But it is a different kind of contact—we still feel like we are in our own separate worlds. One of the ways we have learned to close this gap is through Facebook. Rich started a tradition of posting a Selfie of the Day (we call it SOTD) so that we can get a glimpse of a day in the life of a deployed Army officer. My children have loved it and so have our friends and family. Many of his posts reflect his tongue-and-cheek humor and make us all laugh, but most importantly it has humanized his—and our—experience of him being away.
Recently my boys and I have started our own SOTD so that we can show Rich and our friends the other side of the story. Rich may post a picture of his “typical breakfast” of eggs and bacon while enjoying his morning newspaper. That same day, we will share what our morning looks like—and believe me, it is not as leisurely! Through the SOTDs I have discovered a sense of humor I did not know I had. It has also reminded me how important it is to laugh during this tough time for us. Laughter has a way of turning our most trying days around.
My husband is scheduled to return in a few more months. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for us. But while we may have just about made it through my husband’s deployment, there are other soldiers lined up to take his place and other spouses preparing to say good bye. I encourage everyone who reads this blog to get to know a military family that may be in your neighborhood, community, or town. Take time to learn and understand the life this 1% lives. Listen to their story. If you have a little more time to give, go out of your way to do something that gives the military spouse a reprieve from their non-stop life. We may need help with completing home repairs, keeping up on car maintenance, taking children to and from after school activities, handling science fair projects and homework, and even tossing the football. Please accept this invitation to be a part of our village. We need you.
SOTD: Rich: How many people does it take to clean a HVAC system? Five. Three to dismantle the system, one to stand outside the door and watch, and me to let them in and watch my stuff. 5. V. Cinco.
SOTD (the other half): Lisa: How many people does it take to change the upstairs air filter? ONE. But apparently, that person should not be me. We miss you at home, Rich Brown.
You can follow along with our SOTD and family adventures on Instagram @brown_sotd.