It's wild how one minute things are completely normal(well as normal as they get) and the next it's like the weight of the world is placed on my shoulders. For no appearant reason in what seemed like the snap of fingers the day took a turn. It started off getting out with another dad and our boys and shooting the breeze for a bit. But it was like when I walked through the door to our home it changed. Maybe it was the fact that subconsciously I realized there was no chance to give my wife a hug. There was no chance to run my fingers through her hair as I rubbed her head. There was no chance to have meaningful conversation with the one who no matter how cliche it sounds, completes me. Or maybe it was the realization that no matter how much of her stuff is in this house, no matter that she pays the bills, no matter what pictures hang on the wall, this is not "our" home, it's my home. Her home is in a crumby tent where she is lucky to have hot water and even running water for that matter. I would gladly give up all the comforts of this house for the chance to make her tent more like home.
When my wife was at Basic Training and AIT most of you are aware of how hard it was on me. If I averaged 4 hours of sleep for the duration of those 6 months I was lucky. Yes there were some seldom nights that I slept for 5-7 hours, but there were even more where I only was able to sleep for 2-3 hours. This time around with her deployed, even though it's a FAR FAR different set of circumstances, I don't have those same problems sleeping. But I still don't get a good nights sleep. Most nights my eyes are shut no later than 11pm. Occasionally it has been later, but that has been very infrequent. For the last week or so I haven't woken with my alarm, instead choosing to turn it off and get an extra hour of sleep until the baby wakes up. But I wonder if I am choosing to get that extra sleep or if my body is just not managing to wake up.
One of the mistakes I made the last time my wife and I were seperated by duty from each other, I would try to take a nap whenever the baby went down to make up for my lack of sleep. I am sure that contributed to not being able to get a good nights rest. And while you may think a nap is making up for the lack of sleep, it never really did. This time around I have been forcing myself to not nap during the day. I don't want to get into that routine again of not being able to sleep at all during the night. And it seems no matter how hard I try, I just can't get myself to be refueled completely.
These days with technology being what it is the families of those serving have much more at their disposal in ways of the opportunity to communicate. Whether it by phone or computer. I have heard several times over how fortunate we are as families these days to have this luxury. I have heard spoken many times of what it was like pre cell phones and pre internet and what families would go through during deployments. And no matter how hard I try to understand their rational, I simply can't. Yes they did not have phones so available back then. Yes the computers and emails were non existant or just becoming mainstream. But depending on the era you are talking about, blacks didn't have civil rights, women didn't have equality, mental illness was taboo, there weren't cures and vaccines for certain ailments, etc etc.(and even Hammer pants were in style-ask your folks what they are if you don't know) Times have changed.
During the State of the Union addressed to the nation a couple weeks ago, I found myself rather miffed with comments President Obama was making. I usually don't get too irritated by things our elected officials say but this time I did. He was talking about how America needs to have a future. And how a good portion of that future rests in technology. He began to elaborate on how these days we can have video chats and make calls from just about everywhere. If I am not mistaken he said he even hopes that every American will have the ability to own a cell phone for mobile communication in the near future. And I couldn't get out of my mind how great it would be if there were more options for our deployed to call home. Now I know they aren't on a Sunday picnic over there. And I know there is the challenge of OPSEC(Operational Security), but I also know what it means to get those phone calls and have those internet conversations. Just last week my wife and I were able to chat via yahoo messenger and were able to see each other. Just to see her face gave me so much mental relief. It makes me wonder with technology the way it is today and knowing that the mental taxation these deployments are taking on our soldiers and families, why is there not more being done to open the lines of communication. I mean really, we send a couple spaceships and rockets into space every month, throw some more satellites on them. And if you wonder where the funding would come from, I would venture to guess that the relief from having communication with our family members would put the amount of money being spent on counseling for our soldiers and their families into a steady decline.
I know some won't agree with what I am speaking of. One person imparticular. But times have changed. I would challenge any one who says this ideal is silly to give up their cell phone and internet for a 3 month period. Do nothing that relies on computers. Don't use your ATM card(write a check and balance your checkbook and no automatic billpay), take the phonebook out from under the kitchen table leg and look a number up and anything else that computers give us the ability to do. Today cell phones are in nearly all of our hands. It's not a fad, it's a fact of life. It is more than a part of our culture, it is our culture. We are an instant gratification world these days. And while I do not expect to be able to pick up the phone and call my wife on an hourly basis(or even be the one to initiate a call), it would be nice to know when she has some down time(which she gets) that I can expect a call. Every day may be asking too much, but aren't we already being asked a lot of?
Some days I wish I didn't have a cell phone or a computer.I wish I would have never known the effects of what they offer. Maybe then when I am woken by a dream or a nightmare on a nearly ever 90 minute schedule I would not be checking my phone to see if what woke me was a missed call. Maybe I wouldn't open up the facebook application to see if I received a messege or if she was by chance on the chat feature that moment I woke up. Maybe I wouldn't be irritated by the times I know I wake up and check my phone at say, 0122 hrs, and see that she logged on at 0132 hrs.
There is no way around the nights of waking up from a dream where I reach my arm to the other side of the bed thinking I was in reality but instead I was having a sweet dream of her. There is no escaping that about every 3rd or 4th dream I have of her at night is actually a nightmare. What I wouldn't give to have my restfull nights back. I would probably sleep better in that tent of hers with her by my side while listening to gunshots than I do in the silence of the night which is broken up by the clicking of my phone while I search for some communication.
With the time difference we have our schedules are completely opposite. Some of the chances she would have to call are when I should be sleeping. And there is no way of getting her to understand that if she can call, that she should. She of course doesn't want me to be woken up by a phone call so she is hesitant. What she doesn't realize is how much better I may sleep just to have heard her voice. But this is the life we chose. And unfortunately I must "suck it up". I don't want to, but what choice do I have?
As much as what I just wrote about gets to me, I can't help but to think how good I do have it. Yes compared to those stellar people who paved the way during times of collect calls at international rates, but also compared to some today. I have a friend who every time she posts how crappy the satellite phone feeds are I am brought back to reality realizing I ask for too much. Every time I hear her say that she has gone a week, or 2 or more without a phone call, I am reminded how fortunate I have been. The first time I talked to my wife I posted it on facebook. But then I felt horrible when I thought of my friend A.M. It was almost like I was rubbing it in that I heard from my spouse. So now I don't say anything when I talk to her. It's not as much as I would like that I do talk to her, but I know it's more than MANY MANY others. And I am thankful for what I do get.
*If you are a praying person, please stop and take a moment to pray for our military families. Yes you are reminded about that nearly every time you enter a church, but you aren't told specifically what you can be praying for. So I ask you to pray for the communication of our soldiers and their families. We all know that "communication is key" and while that's a catchy lil saying, it is VERY true. No more true than in the world we live in as part of this military community. But as hard as you pray for our communication with our loved ones, pray for those who are not sleeping. It never fails that my facebook status feed is filled up with spouses who were up til all hours of the night not being able to sleep peacefully as they sleep alone. I know if I updated my facebook status every time I woke at night and checked my messeges, I would add at least 4 updates a night. And nights like last night, I would have added somewhere around 10. That's right, in the span of 8 hours I woke up nearly a dozen times checking my phone. Just hoping to catch her online. But of course I didn't, then I saw I missed her by only minutes.*