After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan it is common to meet women whose spouses who have deployed two, three even four or more times.
My own husband has 42 months of combined service down range. Deployments are so common in our house that news of an impending trip has lost its sting.
I no longer fear or loathe deployments. Instead, I pray they don’t fall during my Girl Scout troop’s annual camping trip because that, my friend, is a hard event to find a babysitter for.
Combat deployments have, dare I say it, become commonplace. They are the expected, not the exception.
Then, last week I met a woman who stopped me in my tracks.
She needed advice for her sister, an Army wife whose husband has never deployed.
For a moment, I couldn’t even comprehend that idea: never deployed.
And it took me about a day to even form the beginnings of a coherent nugget of advice.
It struck me how far away from that place we had come, where deployment was terrifying and life changing. Today, after five trips to the desert, I’d call the experience annoying.
It’s terrible, isn’t it?
Gone is the feeling of dread, the fear for my husband’s safety, the anxiety over the separation.
The duty of being a wartime spouse has become so commonplace in our house that those typical feelings are replaced, at least in my mind, by a feeling of annoyance over how the household schedule will change with one less adult, the fear of having to use the weed-eater (I hate that thing) and anxiety over trying to secure a babysitter without spending a fortune every month.
War has become ordinary.
As I thought about what to tell this new, young Army wife, my first thought was, don’t let the war consume you. Worry for your husband. Care for him. Tend to him as well as you can via mail and Skype.
But, don’t. Stop. Moving. Forward.
Live life. Take your kids to the park. Take them on vacation. Go to the movies. Enjoy time with your friends. Do it all, without feeling guilty.
Then, I think back to how that same advice, given to me 12 years ago, has led to the idea of war being just another day in our house.
I still think it’s valid, solid advice.
Crying in front of the tv and waiting for the phone to ring is not good for the heart or the soul.
But neither is becoming so removed from the reality of what a deployment means. I hope it never takes an extraordinary, terrible moment, in the next, ordinary deployment, to remind me.