I have come to a new realization. One that I didn’t think possible.
Deployment is not the hardest part of being married to someone in the military.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want The Pilot deploying more often than he has to. I don’t wish for separation. On the contrary, I am jealous of our time together when he is home. But that’s the thing. Even when he’s “home,” he’s working more than I ever imagined he would be.
I never anticipated the day-to-day life of being a pilot’s wife to be so… not routine. Because there is no such thing as routine in Marine Corps aviation. Sure, there is a flight schedule but it. changes. every. day.
Some days, The Pilot leaves for work at 3pm and gets home around 1am. The next day, he’ll go in at 7:30am and be home by 4:30.
Like watching a tennis match, some days I feel like I watch him enter and exist our home at such a rapid rate that there isn’t really time for much more than handing him food as he passes and hoping he’ll be home again before I fall asleep.
Some days, he’s on “duty;” a 24 hour shift that necessitates he be at his squadron for a literal 24 hours. Twenty-four-freaking hours. Sometimes he has duty during the week and sometimes he has it on the weekends.
As in, he works weekends.
Sometimes he has cross-country flights over the weekends too. He’ll leave on a Thursday or Friday and come home on Sunday or Monday. No time off before the weekend get-away and no time off once he’s back.
As of now, The Pilot is set to deploy this coming fall and to prepare, he and his squadron will go through what’s known as “work-ups.” Six months of work-ups, actually. When I asked his commanding officer what to expect when it came to that six month period, he looked at me and said,
The question will not be ‘Will he leave this month?’ the question will be, ‘Will he be home this month?
So what’s my point?
Some days, deployment simply feels easier. When they’re gone, you can make plans. You can commit to going places, meeting people, taking trips, etc. While it’s painful when they’re gone, you have the freedom and time to compensate accordingly. You “get on with your life.”
When they’re home, it’s a lot of starting and stopping. But mostly, it’s waiting.
A friend of mine was telling me recently: “We want more kids, but we both want him to be here for the birth, so we’re waiting until after the deployment. Which also means my kids will be further apart in age than I would have liked but having him here is the bigger priority.”
I don’t mean to complain or to paint life as a military spouse as this grueling kind of drudgery. I’m not trying to write some sort of bitter diatribe about how the Marine Corps has ruined my life, ship-wrecked my marriage or stolen all my joy.
All I’m saying is that I have realized that you need just as much prayer, grace, and patience for the seasons in which your husband is home as you do when he’s away.
In the same way that it is expected of you to grieve and struggle and fight the good fight through each deployment, I’m going to go out on a limb and say
It is ok to struggle and grieve and fight the good fight everyday that your husband is home.
May real, true, life-giving love be planted in those routine-less days, where winds of constant change blow. May you sink your roots deep in the soil that is your faith in a God that has called you both to your marriage and the sacrifice of being a military wife.