During my time in the Navy, I have made 3 major deployments. The first occurred while my wife was pregnant with our daughter, and the other 2 came after the little princess was born. I would be lying if I told you that they weren’t difficult. They broke my heart each time. There are a ton of different things that are difficult, but there was one part that was harder on me than all the others. Before I talk about that, I just wanted to mention that as painful as the goodbyes are, it doesn’t even compare to the awesomeness of the homecomings.
For me, the most difficult part of deploying are the three months leading up to it. Once I’m underway, I have a job to do that takes up about 16-20 hours each day. I’m able to lose myself in the work and keep busy enough that I don’t really think about it too much. This may not seem like the perfect solution, but for me, it’s the one that gets me through. It makes the days last forever, but the weeks go by quick. My wife is also able to fall into a familiar routine with the kids that keeps her focused on other things.
The months leading up to deployment are tough though. I want to make up for the time that I’m going to miss by doing everything now. It’s honestly exhausting. I go to bed every night kicking myself for things that I didn’t do or say. I go through the day in such a hurry to get things done, that I never actually stop to enjoy them. Usually, with about a month left, I’ll have the thought, “Can I just go now and get this over with?” Of course, immediately after having that thought, I feel guilty for it.
I’ve been fortunate to be on shore duty for the past couple years. We planned the birth of my son to coincide with the beginning of that time, so I have not had to deploy since he was born. It’s great that I’ve been able to experience all the things with him that I missed with our daughter. I still have time left on shore duty as well, so I’m nowhere near to entering this stage yet, but I think it’ll be pretty painful when I do. The one thing that makes this all easier is my amazing wife. It’s so crucial that I’m able to know everything is taken care of at home while I’m away. The bottom line is that we signed up for a certain lifestyle, and I have a job to do either way. The sheer awesomeness of my wife makes that job incredibly easier.