I discovered today that there is actually a National Day of the Deployed. Never heard of such a thing, and yet, when I looked, there is actually a day for those who are currently deployed, or have been deployed as a day to honor their sacrifice and commitment. So, to make it official, I thanked my hubby and son-in-law for their service, and then I got off of Facebook and started to do my ironing.
As I was ironing, I figured I would write and wax poetic on how wonderful these two men are in serving in the Navy. I would try to make it sound great and noble and I could feel good about writing that.
Then, as I was in the middle of ironing hubby’s shirts, reality hit me. I like ironing. In fact, I like doing most housework. As my daughters used to tease me, I am a 50’s housewife. Not like Donna Reed, with heels, dresses, aprons and perfectly coiffed hair, no, I am more of the likes of Roseanne. I prefer tennis shoes, jeans (the old ratty ones), stained tee shirts (sometimes with holes in them), my hair is all over the place and please, make-up? No, not around the house…
I truly became a 50’s housewife while my hubby was deployed. When you spend months at a time on your own, raising a family, you have got to start to fill your time somehow. I started cleaning. Scrubbing down walls in frustration and anxiety when I didn’t hear from him for weeks. Back then we did not have e-mail or video chats, we had snail mail and yes, sometimes a snail was faster than mail arriving at my home.
I could watch the news and worry. I could read the newspaper and wonder. Or, as I often did, I would pull out the bucket, and scrub walls. It was therapeutic, it was exercise, but most of all, it was a stress reliever. Windows would come next. Washing windows, like cleaning toilets or ironing is a perfect exercise in instant gratification. You immediately see results. It’s rewarding.
After months of deployment, this all became a habit for me. I guess I owe my habits to the deployment rotation of my husband.
Weekdays were okay, I could clean, I could do laundry, I could keep busy. Weekends are a killer for those whose spouses are deployed. Weekends are the fun times for families. Those are the days of togetherness. For us, my daughters and I, it was just another day.
Sundays were the worst for me. We would go to church, and afterwards hear everyone making plans for lunch. I would load the girls back into the car and fight the lone-lies, you know that feeling sorry for yourself and wanting to wallow in it. Each Sunday, as I drove down the freeway, my pity party would begin. That was the season that began going to the malls in the areas to look around. We would have lunch, mostly at home, and head out to a mall. Sees candy shops were my salvation. These stores, then, had sugar sticks, all different flavors. They sold them 3 for a quarter. So, for less than a dollar, we could go window shopping and the girls could pick out their favorite candy sticks and have a bag to prove they had been shopping. Plus, with the free sample they gave to everyone who came into the store, we could each have our chocolate fix for the day. I loved it when they passed out my favorite, a Mayfair, with milk chocolate, a white creamy center with cherries and walnuts.
Days do pass, and eventually deployments end. The spouse arrives home to much fanfare and pomp and you head home. A family reconnected and yet, there is a time of adjustment. For us, hubby’s voice was deep and louder than ours. It took a day or two to recognize and remember the comfort of his voice. Schedules that I had in place were disrupted. Meal times changed with his schedule. None of this earth-shattering, but different.
Videos of returning troops make me cry. They are honest and true. I have been on the waiting end. I remember being swooped up in hugs and kisses and tears. These are the initial moments and they are wonderful. They will live in your heart forever. No one sees what it’s like after the camera is turned off. Those awkward times of loud voices and laughter that is different from the quiet giggles that had reigned for months. The presence of a spouse that completes a family, but also adds a difference to a routine.
These are the times though, that made me a 50’s housewife. The times that I had to look afresh at this man I had married. This man who was absent for birthdays and anniversaries and Christmases and school programs. This man I love. This was when my resolve cemented. Yes, I would gladly iron his shirts and do his laundry. Yes, I would put out towels for his shower and at times I would lay out what I knew he would wear. I would gladly prepare his meals and make certain it looks beautiful. He deserves it. He deserves it all, because for years this man ate in a mess hall. Having food put on a plate and handed to him, overcooked and unappealing. For years this man lived out of a seabag.
Today, while ironing, this is what I realized, I have gladly become a 50’s housewife, fetching, cleaning and cooking. I do it because I have been blessed to have the memories, sometimes haunting memories, of what a deployment means. The insecurity of not knowing where he is and what he is doing. The fear that can come with wondering. The disappointment of going to the mailbox to find it only filled with bills, and no letters. All of these memories make the time, even in retirement when there are no deployments, worth it all. So, thank you to all who are currently deployed, soon to be deployed or have been deployed. You are heroes all. But, to all who wait, be brave, take courage and find new adventures for you and your family. They don’t have to be grand to be memorable.
Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate you. Cathi (DAF)