Me? I’m doing fine.

That’s what I would have said…had he asked. It’s the little things that can suck the life out of you as much as the big things. The vacuum cleaner broke and the dog hair on the carpet is making me absolutely want to crawl out of my skin while I research a replacement. I cleaned out all the tubes, no clogs. I got a screwdriver and opened everything up. The motor just  burned out…no DIY fix here. It’s a rainy day and I feel bored and at the same time my to-do list is so long it keeps me up at night. I’m hungry but I don’t feel like making lunch so I’ll just have another cup of tea. Last night I decided to make fried rice to use up the leftover sticky rice I had in the fridge. Then I got distracted and made a pot of brown rice from scratch–waste of 20 minutes and dirty pans and the leftover rice. Yay!

Yesterday after days of silence DH skyped me, and I was psyched. He was not. He had just come back from outside the wire, he was tired. He asked how the dogs were. How our saplings were taking root.  Whether I had finished planting the hedge (in a way that, while I’m sure not his intent sure felt like accusing me of dropping the ball). He didn’t smile when I replied good, well, and yes. He didn’t ask how I was doing. I asked if he needed to get to sleep, and he said he did. We said good night and I love you a few times. Our terrier Ranger “waved” goodbye. Deep sigh.

This is not our norm, but it happens, and it sucks. Of course, the amount of anticipation might be a setup for failure. Living with the Army is a game of managing expectations. Some days, the best I can do to be understanding is to end the conversation. It’s disappointing when I hear from him and he’s not himself, his body language is sullen and tired and disinterested. I listen a while, he runs out of things to say about how things are there. I give him the highlights of things here, try to keep it light and positive, let him know anything he really needs to know. In the past 10 days TWO of his older family dogs died, but the last thing he needs to have on his mind is the stupid vacuum cleaner. The more I try to share positive little things and he doesn’t react, the more depressed I feel, until I know I need to say goodnight and let him get some sleep because it’s not going anywhere good. That took me about 4 years to figure out. Don’t try to salvage a conversation that’s going bad when we’re far away and every moment talking counts, it will only get worse and leave us both feeling bad. It is in no way his fault that sometimes the only chance he gets to call for days is not a good day, and he doesn’t have the physical or emotional energy to be present to me. That doesn’t change the fact that an event like a skype chat that I’ve been hoping and praying and waiting for turning out disappointingly unfulfilling and emotionally disconnected is actually pretty crushing. It saps my energy for a while. I feel both restless and unmotivated.

I have a boatload of paperwork, and bills, and household projects (not the fun kind to blog about but the mundane and frustrating, like cleaning the garage and watering the plants). I have to prepare for a committee meeting tomorrow about a big fundraising event this fall, for a community organization I desperately want to help. And yet all I want to do on this rainy day is watch West Wing and bake oatmeal cookies and slog through my to-do list as quickly as my tired brain will allow.

Ranger is asleep in a ball leaning against me and twitching as he dreams of chasing rabbits or something. I will make cookies, skip errands, do the bills, and well…I have 7 more months to clean the garage before anyone sees it but me. This is deployment. This is my fairy tale, and my prince, while he can’t be charming every second of every day, is worth every second of days like today, because he is my hero.

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4 thoughts on “Me? I’m doing fine.

  1. I think marriage in general is about managing expectations. So, definitely double duty management on deployments…Glad you are able to recognize the emotions and work through them. Hope you have more good days than bad!

  2. Agreed! And thanks, we do have many more good days than bad, fingers crossed it stays that way through what has so far been a tumultuous deployment on both ends. God is so good to us, but we grow from challenge not complacency so I take the hard days with gratitude too.

  3. ❤ i in NO way want to dishonor the intensity of your hardship while he is gone, and you may already know this, but managing disappointment and your spouse not being able to live up to our expectations is a pretty normal part of marriage I think. I can imagine it is a gazillion times worse when you get to "see" him so sparingly as it is. 😥

    • Absolutely, it is very important not just in marriage but all relationships, and made more difficult when a week’s worth of “relationship” hinges on a few minutes of conversation. In this case the disappointment isn’t in him but in the situation. But yes, we let each other down and I’m just as guilty. It makes it infinitely harder not to be able to have a discussion to share the feelings and then offer and receive forgiveness. That is an integral part of our process that we lose out on almost entirely.

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