I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never really given it that much thought.
Deployment just hasn’t been a part of my personal reality.
That’s not to say that I haven’t been appreciative in words, thoughts, or prayers towards military family acquaintances. Or that I haven’t shed tears while watching movies depicting the struggles and transitions of those affected by deployment. Or that I haven’t been completely in awe upon meeting a military spouse juggling family, work, or school.
I just hadn’t given specific thought to the question “How does that work?”
A month or so ago, the girls and I entertained a sweet runaway dog for a few hours while we attempted to locate her owner. Thankfully, she was micro-chipped and after numerous phone calls, we were able to trace her to a temporary home at a neighbor’s house. The neighbor is a young man serving in the Air Force and trying to
contain dog-sit this pony-sized pup while her “mommy” is deployed.
That evening I mused to my husband about how common that situation must be amongst our single young people serving, and how difficult it would be to find someone to care for your pet for such an extended amount of time. I was baffled that it had never occurred to me before.
Recently, a friend’s husband was deployed for the first time in their married life. His wife is a lovely soft-spoken woman who is bright and always incredibly positive. She is a mother to four (!) teenager-ish kids and works outside the home full-time. She mentioned that this was coming and I tried to be supportive in word and by listening, but… that was pretty much it. Gulp.
And then he went, and there were glimpses that this might be (duh) really hard for her. Another sweet friend sprang into action organizing some meals for the family so that they would have at least one less thing to deal with right now. But beyond the food and the normal friendly attempts at trying to cheer her up and let her know that we are here to listen, I am ashamed to say that I am a bit at a loss.
My brain has been whirring.
How would my family do that? We would have to use so much childcare! How would transportation work? How would everything get done? The details of my (albeit imaginary) scenario quickly grew daunting. And that’s not even considering the emotional toll on a wife…on a family.
So comes the question, “How do we show our appreciation for this family’s willingness to serve?”
I found a few potentially helpful websites. I also found some tough statistics. In a recent Operation Appreciation survey, about 90% of military family members said that they felt that the general public didn’t understand the sacrifices they make.
So I am asking you for your help. Got any ideas?
Have you or your spouse ever been deployed? How did others support you in ways that were really truly helpful? I would love specific ways to support a family during this challenging time. How do we assure our friend that although we know she is strong and competent, ________ is the least we can do…
I hope you will join in the discussion and help me fill in the blanks.
*In my internet ramblings, I was also led to Ashleigh’s blog where she writes about this experience with courage, honesty, and rare beauty.