Sunday, May 17, 2009

Separations - Just a Part of the Life

I hear folks time and again complaining about how their loved one has to travel or get underway. On the flip side, I also hear stories of families who are thrilled that the deployments give them a chance to appreciate each other more. Whatever the case may be in your family, it's your right to have an opinion. Be warned though, Coast Guard life is not always easy and as a family member you get to be there for the good, the bad and the sometimes annoying back and forth that comes with military hurry up and wait. If I can say two things, they are:

1) Don't be surprised if your loved one has to get on a ship and/or otherwise deploy. This, my friends, is the United States Coast Guard, an Armed Force that has worldwide presence and impact.

2) Don't feel that you are alone. You are certainly not. There is a widespread, welcoming Coast Guard community family here to support you and commiserate with. Reach out.

Sure, you may have just welcomed a new addition into your family, or you are about to do so. Separations, during, after, before or around such a momentous occasion can be downright frustrating. You may experience a slew of emotions. I know. I have been there and so have countless other Coastie spouses and family members. It is not easy. But, hey, look on the bright side, separations are temporary in the grand scheme of things.

The thing I'm not looking forward to is further deployments as the children get older. In their early days, kids are often oblivious to certain things. As they age, that changes drastically. I have talked about this before. My oldest is already having concerns for upcoming deployments. She cannot even fathom dad being gone for longer stints again-she barely tolerates his schedule now. In turn, this makes him sad. He seems to be feeling as though he's letting her down. I reassured him that this is normal and children will go through this. If it's not a deployment, it will be something else. He is worried though, and I appreciate that. I know that he misses the children terribly when he's away. He misses milestones, the making of friends, birthdays, etc.

On a slightly different note, I asked about overseas tour. I think he thought I wanted to get rid of him. In reality, I don't want him gone for a year at a time. Heck, two-six months at a time is tough enough. Still, you do what you have to do. This is bigger than us. That is what being a Coast Guard family member is all about. We make sacrifices too. All military family members do.

Sometimes I think it is harder for us when they go away (I'm sure I'm contradicting an earlier post by stating this). We have a life to keep living and the day to day activities to tend to, always forging ahead. For them, they have the job-an extremely important one at that! They are focused on that. We are focused on them coming home. They are thinking of the mission at hand. We wonder if it's all that crucial.

It is.

I don't want to be all preachy, but I know I can get that way. Forgive me.

Take this post for what you will. It is more of an out loud conversation with myself to reassure me that I can continue to live this life and that I can continue to support my spouse. Not only can I, but I will. I will because my husband signed on the dotted line and no one had to draft him. He chose this life (as did I when I married him). So many others have too. A lot of folks still take that for granted. They never contemplate what it would be like if no one made the choice. You and I know, the choice would be made for us. So, yes, my husband's job is important and temporary separations are just a small sacrifice that we family members can make to support that choice--to support our country.

The Coast Guard is not a walk in the park. It's not the "easy branch". It's not puddle piracy, or whatever else you may have heard. The Coast Guard is so much larger and means so much more than meets the eye. Those of you already living this life know and appreciate that. Think of that next time the tough days get the best of you or someone complains about a 8 week patrol. If I start complaining, shove this post in my face and give me the reminder too.

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