A ship, or a battalion, or a carrier group, etc. will go through a period of "training evolutions" or drills to ready themselves for an upcoming deployment. The days and weeks of this is often called a pre-deployment work-up. For many Navy families this can mean long work days, last minute schedule changes, days or even weeks apart before the real separation officially begins. This also includes boatloads (no pun intended) of stress. Our little family has been doing just that.
Rob leaves Sunday. We have been busy updating wills and POA'S (power of attorney), buying recordable books, ordering a flat-daddy, getting Rob an updated passport, seeing family, spending time as a family, squeezing in all the "quality family time" we can, and fighting like two housewives on a reunion special. (Paging Andy Cohen, we need a referee to handle some of this and add witty commentary to lighten our moods.)
Apparently pre-separation feuding is completely normal and to be expected. The practical reasoning for such bickering eludes me. (Paging Dr. Freud, please have a seat on the sofa next to Mr. Cohen.) I've created the term or Pre-Deployment Bipolar Disorder for this experience. Subconsciously I don't want Rob to leave, and consciously (at times) I almost want to punch him all up in his condescending, never-wrong face. These marital spats are over quicker than they start and there are many a meaningful "I love you" from our lips and those shared gazes that speak louder than words between a husband and wife.
This week I'm doing really well. Last week I had my moments. I vacillated between feeling empowered, capable, and prepared to feeling so anxious and vulnerable I wouldn't want him to leave the room. I may no longer have the Navy here in Athens since the base closure, but I have more than a handful of friends who have offered and are ready at a moment's notice to help this family. This leaves me feeling beyond lucky, and appreciation does not even begin to describe the gratitude. For once in my life, I have no words.
This week it is Rob I am most worried about. I could not physically leave my babies. That is something I am most certain I am not capable of. To imagine what his impending departure feels like for my husband breaks my heart. When Rob returns Fin will almost have doubled his age and Grace will no longer be using diapers (hopefully) and probably be fluent in another language (more likely). The things he is going to miss coupled with Grace's pleading eyes asking for her Dad has the magnitude to break me in two. These things cannot break me, because I must not let them.
I am realizing I am about to become a different person. This will change me. I am going to be Mom & Dad for the next 7 months. I will be good cop, and bad cop. I'm going to be potty training on my own, and enlisting Grace to help teach her brother to walk. I will be teaching my children strength and endurance by example. Sweet Lord, I am going to need all the patience I can get. Some days I will be at my best, others I will be at my worst.
My good friend Mackenzie (another Navy Supply Corps wife) gave me the best advice so far. I blatantly asked her one day, "How am I going to do this?!" She responded, "You just will, because you have to." Starting Sunday, I will. Some moments I may think I won't be able to do this, but I just need to keep reminding myself that I can and will.
It also doesn't hurt that Chick-fil-A is just a block away. At least the kids won't go hungry. Unless it's Sunday, when Chick-fil-A is closed. Athens friends, take note, we may need to be fed and watered on Sundays.