Is there such a thing? Can we actually enjoy deployment? Since my husband joined the Air Force I’ve been surprised to meet so many women who admit to enjoying a deployment now and then. We love our spouses, we would love for them to be here all the time, but when they leave I think we have to try and make the best of it. Some spouses get down and dirty with home projects; repainting, decorating, and fixing everything in sight. I liken it to the nesting urge you get while pregnant and so refer to them as nesters. Some hit the gym hard, in an attempt to loose weight or tone up. I classify these types as the transformers. Some delve into interests they’ve never really had time to get into before, learning to sew, taking up rock climbing, maybe taking a college class or two, getting involved volunteering and the like, I tend to call them the busy’s, because they always need something to keep them busy. Finally the relaxers, the women who hit up the spas, have nightly bubble baths, get their nails done every week, etc. Some women do this normally but for the relaxers it’s a deployment only experience. There are other groups of course, and then those that fit into no category at all, but as I have seen it a good portion of spouses fall into these four categories.
So how do we find the joy in deployment? First we have to accept that we miss our spouses, that they miss us, and that just because we enjoy ourselves when they are gone it does not mean we do not love and miss them. Second, we need to figure out what will give us enjoyment.
If you are a nester, then by all means nest! You don’t want to change EVERYTHING about your house, as your service member may be overwhelmed with a drastic change upon returning home. However, maybe you would like to redo one room, or add specific decorative touches to the whole house. Small things that will be fun for you but won’t break the bank, or be too much of a task for you to handle. First what do you want to do to it? Let’s say it’s just not the right fit and you want an antique feel. Now is the time to hit up those thrift sales, auctions, and antique stores. Search eBay for great deals, and find things that you really love to avoid buyers remorse. Sometimes the joy is in the search, while looking for that perfect set of candlesticks or just the right frame for that picture.
If you fall into the transformer category – work on that transformation! If you hate the gym it wouldn’t be my first suggestion, but if you do fall into the category then find a way to transform. Amazon has loads of workout DVD’s, find another spouse who is also dealing with deployment and go jogging together, join a dance class, or start taking the kids on hikes in your area. Transformation doesn’t just have to be about how you loose weight or tone up, it can mean so many things. Hate your hair and makeup routine? Always wanted to fall into a certain style category but didn’t have the courage to do so? Try it out! The worst that can happen is you hate your new tribute to the 80’s style and you go back to your old wardrobe, but at least you got to try it out without the embarrassment of hubby being there to watch!
If you are a busy, let’s find something to keep you busy. Look on base to see what volunteer opportunities are there. Not just in the base magazines but go to the community center and family readiness centers and specifically ask about programs. Sometimes there are programs available that don’t get much attention in the magazines and such, and if you are looking for something specific ASK, you never know what you will find. If a class is more your style, look at the arts and crafts center, the local community college, and the community centers, find something you think you will really enjoy and then when you sign up get to it with gusto, don’t just put your toes in, dive in head first.
Not much needs to be said about the relaxers. They pamper themselves, and they deserve it, managing the home front while a spouse is dealing with the war front is a hard task and if sanity is found at the local nail salon by all means get those nails done. Schedule a spa trip at the beginning of deployment for about half way through deployment, this will give you something to look forward to.
What happens when you don’t fit into any of these categories? Or maybe you are thinking, there is just NO way I can do anything, I have the kids, I don’t have the money, etc.
Problem #1. No money.
Join the military club – we have shirts, or we will have shirts once we can afford them. No matter what category you fall into there is another spouse out there to help. Nesters get some other nesters together and swap something old for something new to you. Transformers, body transformation doesn’t cost a whole lot to get out and get active. Transforming your look? Bring on eBay and the thrift stores, it doesn’t take a lot to go a long way to a transformation. Busy’s well volunteering is free, but classes sometimes are not. Want to learn something specific and can’t find a class? Time for the great Google to help you out with some tutorials, or search out a spouse who knows and will teach you for free or trade. Relaxers, well similar to nesters find other relaxers, one of my friends recently held a massage party and everyone got free 15 minute massages. The woman giving them was getting into the business and so we got a freebie pamper session and she got her name out there.
Problem #2. The Kids.
Sometimes our children can limit the amount of time, money, and energy we have, but you can still find things to do! My kids have never really had a babysitter so they go with me everywhere I go, and they’ve gotten used to it. We go to lunch, we go shopping together, they come with me when I volunteer, people who know me have thought I have lost a child instead of just left them with dad, that is how often my kids are with me. Really tap into the things around you that allow kids or provide childcare – they are out there!
Problem #3. I do not fit into any category.
Me either! Or maybe I fit into all of them. So I find my joy in a lot of little things. We are almost out of debt, which means I will no longer have to shop at the Airman’s Attic. I have loved the Airman’s Attic, but honestly it isn’t helping my self esteem to wear clothes that are barely wearable on my body. I spoke with my husband and he agreed to a massive wardrobe change. I want something that will flatter my super hourglass figure, and I love historical fashion, so we decide a more pin up style wardrobe is in order. I admit I’ve always wanted to and husband says he may never leave the house just so he can stare at me in the new clothes. We don’t have much money, but eBay has pulled through and some new clothes should be arriving shortly: a dress and a top. These two items will be washed and put away, as I’m pretty pregnant and they won’t fit until after the baby. The excitement of getting a new wardrobe, even if it’s a piece or two a month that will be saved for a few months is a great distraction for me. Furthermore my husband is so excited by my wardrobe change that he has found a piece or two and sent me the links with just a simple message “get this, you will look awesome in it”. Flattery at it’s finest! Knowing he is looking forward to seeing me sport a new, good for my body, look, helps keep the connection there when we don’t get to talk very often.
I also volunteer all the time; I teach a Zumba class in which anyone can bring their children, it usually means children under foot but it has been working out well for all involved. In the evenings I run the base theater group, directing, acting, sewing, painting. It’s a little overwhelming with some plays, but the group is getting bigger and has really made a difference in some of the lives of those involved.
Finally, I have two little ones 3 and 1, and like I said I take them every where. I do things just for them, craft days, trips to the zoo, and we are making special welcome home outfits for when my husband returns. We also do our nails and facials once a week. Yes my three year old smears avocado and oatmeal on her face, places cucumbers on her eye,s kicks up her feet, and relaxes with me. Well, she relaxes until my one year old comes over and eats the cucumber.
So maybe I don’t fit into just one category, but by finding things that make me happy I’m enjoying the time I have while my husband is gone, and he is happy that he doesn’t have to worry about me and the kids. He knows we will be happy to have him back, but we aren’t lost without him, which allows him to focus on his mission: Being an awesome Airman.