About twice a week, I find myself wide awake early in the morning. I awaken bright eyed and ready to go, thinking I should just get up and get some stuff done before Abby wakes up. Then my common sense kicks in and I remind myself that in five short months I wont have that option anymore and I should just go back to sleep while I can. I know that if i lie there long enough, I will start thinking, and I know better than to think at that time of morning.
Nonetheless, this morning my thoughts gave way to the upcoming deployment. Visions of myself wearing a bathrobe, unwashed, unkempt, and unnerved fill my brain. I start thinking about how I'm NEVER going to sleep again, how I will never get to take another mid-day nap, how I will be eating macaroni and cheese for dinner every night and will smell like sour milk for a year. I see myself picking up hubby at homecoming, dressed in my sweat pants with curlers in my hair (I have straight hair?) and house shoes on, dragging two screaming kids through the crowds while every other wife looks like they just stepped out of Vogue. Yeah, I seriously shouldn't think at 5am.
And while I know that my imagination tends to get the best of me this time of morning, the underlying fear is the same. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I am completely terrified of this deployment. I thought that after the first, it would get better. I know what to expect, what to do, what happens and how to deal. But nothing could have prepared me for having a newborn in the mix. While I'm nervous about my ability to be both mommy and daddy, housekeeper and chauffeur, my heart is breaking for hubby and all that he is going to miss in that year.
It seems that, for us, this time the stakes are higher. That’s not to say that a deployment is easier without children; I’ve done the deployment as a newlywed, two thousand miles from home and no children- it was HARD. But it was hard for me in a different way. This time I think about how I’m going to have to tell hubby when the baby rolls over, crawls or takes his first steps, and about the million cute things Abby does everyday, all of which he’ll have missed. How do you do that? What should be a joyous milestone already seems marked by heartbreak.
It doesn't help that this deployment has been looming over us like an impatient three year old for far too long. By the time our brigade leaves this winter, it will have been staring us in the face for almost two years. That’s far too much notice. I personally prefer to be surprised; no more than ninety days please. Then I don't have the chance to lie awake and think, I'm too busy preparing and ignoring the fact that he’s really leaving. Exactly how I prefer it.
Fortunately for me and hubby, things look much more manageable in the light of day. I tell myself that women have survived this for centuries, and if they can do it, I can too. And then part of me gets a little excited, like I just accepted a momentous challenge that only I can pull off. And I start thinking about how proud I will feel when this one’s over and I survived with grace. Then I get myself up, toss that taunting bathrobe aside, and vow to get dressed everyday, no matter tough it gets. Then I look in the mirror, at a girl who’s already survived more than she thought she ever could, and tell myself “you can do this.” And somehow, I know that I will.