Thursday, August 26, 2010


Yesterday, Army wife, Erica Holland answered questions about her husband's recent deployment. Today, she talks about keeping positive amidst a long separation and about preparing your family to be reunited after being apart. 

Here we go.

Annika preparing for Dads safe return.

Are there certain things that you did at home to keep a positive attitude during his deployment?

Yes. Absolutely. You can be happy and positive during a deployment, but you have to decide that you want to be, and you have to make an effort. I was given some wonderful advice before the deployment by some of my very good (and more experienced) friends. You have to stay busy, and you have to set goals. It doesn't really matter what it is, but find a hobby or a passion, get involved in the community, decide you are going to work out and look good when your husband comes home, read books, start a blog, join a club, just make sure you are doing something. One of my friends decided to start a cooking blog and jokes that she baked her way through the deployment. Another friend starting making bows and hair ribbons. I decided I really wanted to be a better photographer, and starting taking a lot of pictures. I also coached the high school softball team.  I had a wonderful group of friends, and I think the Lord really blessed me that way. We ate together probably 3 or 4 times a week (because cooking for yourself is really lame). We watched each other's kids, we went to the park, and we just bummed around each other's houses. It was like having a family here in Germany. 

How did you support your husband in his job at such a distance?
Uh... I don't know if I was very helpful. Sometimes when your husband is gone you get stressed, and it feels like his fault. You want to say "You have no idea how hard it is being here with all the kids. I can't believe you left me to do this by myself." You're right. He doesn't know how hard it is.  But, you don't know how hard his job is either, and I can't imagine being gone from my kids for as long as he was. So, just remember that the separation is a very different experience for each of you, but hard for both of you. Try to be positive, and sympathetic to his difficulties, even if you don't fully understand them.  

What things did you learn during this time of separation from your husband?
I learned how much I appreciate having my husband home, and I try not to take him for granted.  
Like during any trial, my testimony was strengthened, and my relationship with the Lord improved. I starting looking for tender mercies, and I found them everyday. I developed a wonderful friendship with Annika, because I depended on her almost as much as she depended on me. Too bad she totally favors her Dad now. I learned that I can do hard things, and that I am more resilient than I thought I was. 

Reunion of Brad, Erica and Annika. June '09.
What would be your advice to any mom and wife facing a similar situation?
Decide before the separation what you are going to to do make it work. Then be flexible. Stay positive. Try not to think of how your life would be different if your spouse were around. Just say "this is my life right now" and then look for all the things that make it wonderful. Humble yourself enough to ask for help, because you will need it at some point. Set goals, but don't be too hard on yourself. Pray. Pray some more. 

The only other thing I feel like I should mention is that redeployment (when everyone comes home) is the hardest part of a deployment for many families. You have been apart for so long that you have built entirely separate lives out of necessity. You are both physically and emotionally exhausted. As a Mom, you are just waiting for your husband to walk through the door so he can take the kids and you can get a break. Your husband is so excited to be able to sit on a couch and get a full night of sleep and he needs a break too. If you have expectations for each other, it can cause some conflict. It takes a little time for your spouse to reintegrate himself into your family and your routine. You feel like you have it all figured out, and it is hard to let go and let him do it his own way. But you have to. Let him be involved, even if he does it all wrong (from your point of view). You had time to figure out parenting and make mistakes, so give your spouse that chance too. Life after a deployment is not going to be the same as it was before, and it is not going to work the same as when he was gone. You have to create a "new normal" together. Our homecoming was wonderful and really very smooth, but just know that it isn't for everyone, and you have to be patient and sympathetic and understanding. 
Homecoming. June '09

Thank you Erica! Your gave some very profound advice, that can be applied to all of our current situations. 

Finally, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge these wonderful military families. Erica and Brad are just one of many families who are sacrificing so much for our freedom, and I for one feel very grateful for their great sacrifices.

1 comment:

runningfan said...

What a great interview! Thanks for sharing. I think I won't take my lives-at-home spouse for granted anymore!

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