Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deployment Coping

Well I might as well admit that this is now a deployment blog... at least until February that is! Sure, I will also be having a baby and sharing all kinds of adventures with the kids. But I won't be able to avoid an underlying theme of deployment.
Overall, I admit that I am pretty optimistic about this one. I've been through this enough times before that I know what to expect. Communication should be much better this time than last year's. My husband is in a much safer job position now, so I won't be so worried about bodily harm. I had a newborn (Danny) when our last deployment started, and got through that pretty well, so my confidence is pretty high that I can do it again. And I'm not even taking any online courses this time around, so honestly all I have to do in the next 7 months is have a baby and take care of our 3 small children. Easy, right? :-) That's what I tell myself on good days.
Anyway, we are only on Day 2, so it barely even feels like a deployment yet. However, even though I have hardly cried, I find myself already slipping into my typical coping mechanism: organizing and cleaning. I have always been a bit of a neat freak (just ask the younger sister who had to share a room with me!) but I have become comfortable with a certain level of messiness in the house, caused by husband's gear and hobbies, children's toys, etc. As long as everything is relatively clean and I can work in the kitchen, I'm fine with that. But as soon as husband leaves, I find myself on a rampage to reorganize the whole 4-bedroom house! Last deployment I came home late at night after saying goodbye to him, and immediately started cleaning up his clothes and everyday items that were around the house-- no more boots by the door, shaving cream on the sink, etc. This time I at least waited until the next day to do it. :-) I then started cleaning up all his books and games that were in the downstairs area. Instead of his hobbies taking over the dining room, it is now cleaned out, his things are neatly put away in our closet, and I won't have to look at them for half a year. I think my motivations are 2-fold. Partly, I am doing this because we are about to have a baby and I need to reorganize some parts of the house to accommodate the new little guy: the guest room/ study will be baby's room, so I had to move around some books and make some room in the closet. The dining room will temporarily hold his swing and pack-and-play, so I had to move the table and clean out the corners. But I think the other reason is purely emotional: when I see his things laying around the house those first few days, I get a little catch in my throat and feel melancholy. He was just here a few hours ago, leaving a damp towel in the bathroom, dishes in the sink, food in the refrigerator, etc. Seeing it just reminds me that he won't be around for a long time, so it seems easier to remove all those reminders. I'm not taking his pictures off the walls or anything crazy! It just seems to make sense to temporarily move the things he won't need while he's gone. I've read that there is a psychological benefit to leaving his boots by the door, as a reminder to me and the kids that he will be home soon. That may be true... but it seems silly to trip over them for months at a time when he obviously won't need them.
What do you think? Do you leaves his things around as reminders when he is deployed? Or do you clean and rearrange the house to claim it as YOURS?

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