Deployment 1 2005-2006
It is my belief that a first deployment is a unique experience that will not be recreated in the next deployments. For me the first deployment had it's challenges, but I did not feel right to complain. I carried a pride for my husband, and a duty to carry on and get through it. Being in a military family, you know a deployment is inevitable, so to complain on the first one would set a bad precedent. I feel like I grew a ton on this first deployment and was able to become a real independent woman. For our first deployment we did not have children yet, so I was really able to do as I pleased. Everything during a first deployment is a new experience/obstacle and a test to yourself and your strength to get through and prevail. I was very proud of myself at the end of this first deployment, and while I hated the absence of my husband, I look fondly on the time I got to really know myself and what I am capable of.
Deployment 2 2008-2009
This deployment was the lowest point for me in our military family life and also for our marriage. This deployment tested me on many levels, but especially emotionally and psychologically. Just prior to this deployment we pcs'd to a new duty station. Then Pat immediately went away TDY to a course. He returned and we tried to settle into a new house, new town, and new duty station. Pat left when Ryan was four months old. Not only was I facing the newness of my surroundings, I was a new mother. I was not feeling completely comfortable with my new role as mother yet, and I had not imagined dealing with all the challenges a child would bring alone as a single mother. I found my way through this deployment, but I struggled a lot. I had literally NO support network for myself. My holidays were spent alone with Ryan, and the only people I saw in person for most of this deployment were the cashiers at Walmart. Pat was my rock as much as he could be from Afghanistan, but I do not think he realized how painful this deployment was for me on so many levels. That year taught me a lot about motherhood, and I am thankful for those lessons and for all the time I shared with Ryan. I just hope that I was a good enough mother to him during that time. When Pat returned, so did my spirit.
Deployment 3 2010-2011
This deployment is not like the others in that communication if really difficult and sporadic, the mission is extremely difficult for our Soldiers, and the amenities and living conditions for our Soldiers are the bare minimum. I am afraid that the stress of this deployment could end up affecting Pat on emotional/psychological levels like the second deployment did for me. I do not even completely understand what life is like for him over there. For us here, we are thriving. Having the two boys keeps me busy and happy. Ryan is now at an age where we can verbally communicate and can play. Sean is a sweet and happy baby and also loves to play with Ryan. This deployment is not stressful for me because not only do I feel like I know what I'm doing as a mother now, but the year before this deployment Pat was gone so much that I'm used to doing everything alone. The time is actually moving rather quickly. I do not know what I would do without my boys. They keep me sane. I enjoy the routine that our days have. Being the best mother I can be to my two little boys is the reason to keep my chin up and a smile on my face. I miss Pat terribly and hate that he is missing everything with the boys, but I try to keep him as included as possible given the poor communication system. However, spending the days with the boys leaves me very little time to wallow in how much I miss Pat.
As I am now in my third deployment I can see how different each deployment is. I find it interesting that my second deployment was the worst. I think the circumstances around the deployment make a big impact on how you handle it. I hope I never find myself in a similar situation as deployment 2 again. And at this point I hope we get a break from deployments and some much needed family time when this third one is done.