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When the Gnome Strikes

Freaking Deployment Gnome. 

Ugh. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve uttered this phrase during this deployment. What’s the Deployment Gnome? Oh, that pesky little creature who shows up the minute your soldier deploys and begins to wreak havoc on every aspect of your life. 

He’s showed up in force this time. You name it, it seems to have happened. Amid the insanity, I’ve decimated a car battery, burst a pipe, killed mice, watched my trees give way in an ice storm, nursed the kiddos through too many rounds of the stomach flu and we’re now under a warning for 80 inches of snow. Yes, go ahead and read that again, I mean every inch of it. 

The Deployment Gnome is real, my friends, and he lies in wait to strike when we’re most vulnerable.  Truth is, it’s not about what he does to us, it’s about how we handle it. I hate to say this, but… um…  stuff happens, it’s just life. 

Pipes are going to burst. Babies are going to puke. The ten year-old will set the microwave on fire making popcorn. The world continues to turn without our guys/gals here to help. But when these huge things happen, they feel even more monstrous because we are dealing with them alone.

A simple task that I would normally ask my husband to help me with becomes monumental when I’m (1) not used to dealing with that particular problem (hence, why my car was  late for an oil change – don’t judge me, peeps) and (2) am trying to parent our five, crazy hooligans while all this is happening. 

I’ve learned it takes exactly 42 minutes to snow blow our driveway/sidewalk if I stay on top of it. I can totally swing that during our Little Miss’ nap time, if the boys agree not to kill each other while I’m pushing the snowblower. Then again, that may be too much to ask.

The good news is, I’ve learned that I am so much more capable when he’s gone, because I know I have to step up my game. I can’t smile at him and ask for help. I have to get it done, gnome or no gnome. 

Deployment gnomes do more than break your stuff, get your kids sick or throw you a curve ball. They test your strength. Sometimes they leave you in a huddled mess, but it’s not about that moment.

Oh no, if you need to sit down and wallow in your self-pity and cry it out, you do it. But then you get up and do something about it. A big part of surviving a deployment is taking a look at who you are and what you’re really capable of doing.

Part of deployment is looking at the siding that just peeled off your house and, instead of sobbing all day, getting it fixed before the storm grows worse. Part of deployment is surviving the stomach flu while lying under your toddler’s high chair, waiting for them to finish their lunch, because you know if you move one more inch, you’ll throw up ... again.

I’ve never been so angry as when I fractured my ankle in three places during Jason’s second deployment.  Well, that was until I battled a wall of snow and ice up to my chest to dig out my driveway last month, or maybe when ... oh, you get the point. 

It’s never going to be perfect, and maybe that’s the point. These guys are deployed, waging battles and while our battles on the home front might not be the same, or even close, they’re just as meaningful when we handle them right.

Heck, they're meaningful even when we handle them wrong. I vowed to never let the battery in Jason’s 4X4 go dead again. Yeah, I did it again - this time with the riding snow-blower buried behind it with 6 feet of snow headed our way. Right. Deep breath, because whining about it isn’t going to help.  Getting out the shovel? That’s a much more efficient use of my time. 

Speaking of which, it’s after 10 p.m., and if I get out there now, I have a prayer of keeping up with the little blizzard we’re having. 

Ladies, the gnome is going to strike. He’s going to break you apart, make you cry, make you howl at the unfairness of life during a deployment. But it’s not about what he does, it’s about how you handle it. 

So scream it out, and then take just the smallest millisecond and realize that while you think this deployment is breaking you, it’s really making you stronger. 

And always remember, this gnome is a temporary squatter, who is going to get kicked to the curb the moment those combat boots hit your entryway. Sometimes, even earlier. Mine is getting kicked to the curb before you read this. That’s right, I’m digging out because I have somewhere important to go, and someone exquisite to fetch, all before the milk expires. 

Kick your gnomes, ladies. You got this.

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