I haven’t seen American Sniper yet and I probably won’t see it this year. Not because I don’t want to see it; I love military movies. And Bradley Cooper. And military men. In fact, I am married to the sexiest, most bad ass Apache pilot in the military. I call him “Ace” because he’s a killer. And also because when we are driving around, he commonly forgets to turn on the right road to get to our house.
He is currently deployed in that great sandbox that is the Middle East. So, American Sniper hits a little too close to home for me. However, it did get me thinking about his deployment, and everything that nobody told me would happen when I can’t get ahold of my very own Mr. Fix It because he’s 7,000 miles away for the next 365 days…
1. Every bump in the night is someone breaking into your house to kill you. We have two kids and two dogs. Two of the four sleep in cages. In the middle of the night, I typically expect the dogs to stay in their cages because they don’t have thumbs and can’t open the doors. Imagine the terror and adrenaline that begins coursing through your body when you hear someone rustling around downstairs, and you know it isn’t the kids because they’ve taken to sleeping in your bed, on your floor, or in your bathtub because they haven’t adjusted to the fact that their dad is gone for a year.
So, what do you do? Well, if you’re me, you grab a baseball bat and tiptoe across the bedroom and slide the door open, slam on the light switch and get ready to clock….your stupid dog who broke out of his cage and started humping the Christmas tree that he just knocked over. Yep. The dog humped the Christmas tree, and my husband wasn’t home to pick it up.
2. You may have to superglue your toilet to keep it from leaking. It happened. We are not going to talk about it, except to say that my toilet hasn’t leaked in three weeks. I’ve got this. Deployment isn’t that hard.
3. The kids will inevitably have their most epic of meltdowns in the middle of a public place when your hands are full. You may kick at them with your feet because you can’t drop the eleventy billion care package items that you are going to send overseas. And people will give you the stink eye because you just kicked your kid. Don’t judge me. Shit happens.
4. People will ask you intrusive, insensitive questions about deployment that you just can’t answer. So you start making things up because you’re tired of saying, “I’m not allowed to tell you that.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “It must be so hard to have him gone for a year! I don’t know how you do it!” Yes, it is hard. Thank you for stating the obvious. I do it because I love my husband and he loves our country, and no, I don’t begrudge our country of his service, even if that means I do not get serviced for the next year, if you know what I’m saying.
5. You will learn the art of being crafty and you will figure how to make the most epic of care packages, whether you want to form a close relationship with glitter and glue or not. I am not crafty. I walk into Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and have a panic attack because what in the hell do you do with all of the things? Just give me a marker and some paper. I’ll draw you a stick family. But because the most gourmet fare they can grab over there is Ramen noodles with cheese and crushed red pepper, I channel my inner Martha Stewart and make some glitter rain just so I can send Ace a box of cheer to make him a little less homesick. Only eleven more months to go!
6. You may have to drive yourself to the emergency room after being awoken at 4AM, convinced that you are dying. It might just be that you contracted a horrible stomach virus that made you think you were dying. Or, so I hear.
7. Everyone tells you they will be there for you while he is gone when they’re drunk at his going away party. The day after he deploys, you can’t find a single one of them to help you superglue the damn toilet tank. But they may show back up the month before he comes back because they don’t want to miss the welcome home party.
8. Snow. All of the fucking snow. Blizzards abound and ice storms are the most epic that they have been in the past fifty years. Meteorologists have hard-ons for the weather and they begin to name snow storms like hurricanes. Why? Because your husband is deployed and you have to shovel the snow and de-ice the car when you’re puking your guts out and need to get to the ER because you know you are going to die from Ebola or something.
9. You develop a new, unnatural love for Skype. Since it is the only way you get to see your spouse’s face while they’re deployed, you learn to ignore the little box in the corner that shows your picture and your lovely bed head when he calls to talk to you at midnight your time because that’s the only time he has to call and say hi.
10. And finally, you learn to have faith. Sometimes you won’t hear from your spouse for days and the only thing keeping you sane is the fact that no one has shown up on your doorstep to give you the news that every military spouse dreads more than anything else in the world. For, as much danger as our troops are in while they are over there, odds are, your spouse is doing just fine, and is probably just showering the glitter bomb off for the fourth time because glitter just doesn’t go well with digital camo.
I’m sure I will learn many more things over this year’s deployment that I haven’t thought about, yet. Likely, I’ll figure them out on the fly when the water pipe bursts in the middle of the night and I staunch the flow with four hundred thread count sheets because they’re the easiest to access. It’s all good, though, because even though I detest the fact that I don’t get to grab Ace’s cute butt for another 343 days, I still get to call him mine and that’s the most amazing thing I could ask for.
Well, except for the fact that he is totally cleaning the cat’s litter box for the whole first year that he’s back.
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