Monday, November 17, 2008

Deploy to Afghanistan

Hi Everyone,

So, I'm simply jumping in head first! Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading my adventures in the land of Afghanistan!

Forgive me for the anonymity and no-name policy, but I think it's important to remain as private as possible. That thought almost seems silly as I prepare to blog my life across the internet. Still, do as I must! Also, those that know me would tell you I am an intensely private person. I've never really been able to understand why as I am not a shy person, but it is who I am. I'd rather have things pulled out of me than lay them out there for the world to see. Most that know me on a casual friendship level might say I am usually the life of the party, but most who know me well would say I'd rather be the people watcher, sitting on the couch, conversing with just one or two people. I have my many masks. So, as ironic as this is for my closest friends, welcome to my blog, my life!

"E" is my little girl, just over a year old, and she is the reason I find myself blogging. She is home with daddy right now, back in Tennessee. I am deployed to Afghanistan and currently, as I write this, hanging in there. Some days are fine, some simply stink. You see, prior to my deployment (or pre-E separation - whichever you like), I was in panic mode. I searched and searched online for some military active duty deployed-mom support. Surely, I could find some other woman who was going to miss out on and lose a year of her child's life. Surely, I could find a soul to commiserate with. Surely, I could learn something from someone else's experience. Now, please understand, I've been deployed before, but never with a child at home and this was the source of my angst and panic. This would be my first "family deployment" and like any other mother in the universe, the thought of leaving my child tore my heart to pieces. You see, we soldiers are not really the superheroes the commercials describe. It constantly surprises me to hear others say "I couldn't do what you do." Well, let me assure you, you could. And not only could you, you certainly would had you found yourself joining the army. Frankly, deploying is just not something most soldiers do by choice. Many people have entered the army for a myriad of reasons and let me set it straight, right or wrong, not all were for the ideology of the military. Sure and of course, some soldiers adore the fundamentals of the military and choose to deploy, but after my many years in the service, I would tell you that most people dread a deployment, no matter their patriotism. Most soldiers dread it because of the required sacrifice and time away from their families. Soldiers may love soldiering, but they generally don't like deploying! And, that said, the willingness to deploy does not a soldier make. A soldier's grit is developed through the dedication and sacrifice they choose to endure. For whatever reason, be it college money, family medical coverage, retirement, predictability, pride, or patriotism, a soldier is still a soldier - no matter the path they took to get there. It is not that all soldiers believe the same things (isn't that the beauty of humanity) but our job is not to rebut or question the orders we are given - we leave that to the politicians. Our purpose is to do the job the politicians agree we need to do. Now, I am not a brainwashed person parroting what I've been told. I simply mean to say, if I wanted to decide when, where, and why I deploy, I wouldn't be a soldier, I'd be in public service. If a cop doesn't agree with or want to enforce certain laws, he should go to law school and learn how to change the laws. If a doctor doesn't want to treat sick patients and prescribe antibiotics, he should sit in a laboratory and conduct research. In the end, soldiers are just like you, just like me, just like every normal everybody ( I know that rhymes - sorry). We endure, we thrive, we succeed, we fail. We wish, we dream, we laugh, we cry. We are Republicans, we are Democrats, we agree, we disagree. Mostly, we love and we miss our families. And, above all, we can't wait to come home.

So, back to my pre-deployment and the reason for this blog. You see, I could not find ANY support online for women in my scenario. I couldn't find but one or two articles that specifically addressed being a mom and leaving a young child at home, not to mention, my poor husband. To put it mildly, he is a man's man! A West Point graduate who served his army well, and is now out of the service. He played rugby at West Point, knows more about football than the Mannings together, and is a stereotypical Italian to boot (minus the hairy chest and gold chain). And there I was...heading out the door to Afghanistan. My husband freaked out (and hid it as best as he could - although the different shades of pale gave him away) and I wondered how was I going to manage? Who would understand what I was going through? My fellow soldier men? Well, not to diminish a father's role in a child's life, but it is my opinion that moms and dads serve different roles I certainly couldn't relate to the appeared ease in which most of my male counterparts deployed. This is not to say that the dads don't deal with the same feelings, it's just that I think moms and dads deal with the feelings very differently. Women generally process those emotions and approach those feelings unlike men and vice versa. I feel our society raises our little boys (later dads) to be strong, tough, manly, and masculine. Society raises our little girls (later moms) to be the ones who nurture, comfort, and support. It's a smaller step for men to learn to soldier, meaning their role in society is closer to the actual traits of a soldier. I feel it's a giant leap for women to table their feminine traits, and all they have been taught by society, to assume the role of a soldier. Now, before all the haters email me, allow me to say that I certainly believe all women are just as capable as the men when it comes to soldiering (I was a military pilot), but I believe we accomplish the same task in very different ways. Sometimes, and statistically, men are simply more able to perform certain tasks. You can argue, but I don't see too many woman hauling a 75lb ruck through the mountains. Sometimes, the innate skills of a woman prove to be much more handy in accomplishing a task. Women are known to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s in thorough detail. A smart army, organization, or corporation utilizes those skills to their fullest potential. And, coming full circle, it is with these experiences that are filed away in my head that I believe men and women deal with deployments differently. After all, daddies fight the monsters in the closets, mommies kiss the baby foreheads and hold them until they fall back asleep. ...we are different, all capable, but different. Also, the above listed thoughts certainly don't apply to everyone and I realize that. I'm speaking in general and that does not include everyone. I love the melting pot, folks! I do!

Back to my deployment: In the end and as the deployment date approached, I just couldn't see how I was going to make it. Today, I still don't see how I am going to make it. But, what I do know is that if I put one foot in front of another, I'll still be walking somewhere and the scenery will indeed change. The tree branches will become bare, the snow will descend the mountain, and the sidewalks will ice over. And, as my walk continues, a few Christmas lights will shine brightly through an office window, the winter white will begin to disappear, and the chill will begin to leave the air. Somehow, if I am steady and constant in my walk, I will someday make it to the plane that will carry me home to my husband and daughter. Along the way, I'll try to remain faithful to this blog. My hope in helping a sister-in-arms, through a very difficult time, will comfort me too, as I am not alone in this journey. I know I am not the only one dealing with the hardships of deployment and motherhood. And, I know there are others like me that feel the pull of a child, no matter the physical distance that separates. I know there are others like me who wish they could dry the tears their child cries. I know there are others like me who wish their child's first word would be mommy (even though it won't) and I know there are others like me who wish they could smell the sweet smell of their baby's skin as they rock their child to sleep.

For now, I'll live vicariously through daddy's emails, pics, and videos - how important those are!

Until next time....

3 comments:

Michael said...

This is an intelligent and articulate blog post. It is unusual to get such warmth and insight from a blog, but I would expect nothing less from some of our nations finest and you are certainly one of those. You have an extremely lucky husband and I am sure he misses you as much as you miss him. That thought you have to cling to. And your dear little girl might not "know" you but will not forget who you are. One day, she will undoubtedly be as proud of you as are you are her. Trust me.

"E" said...

Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

"E"

- Wow. that post from Michael was very sweet. And yes, serving our country is really something to be proud of. I'm sure you are a great Mom, and hopefully your very kind husband will be showing your little girl pictures of her each night to remind her of Mommy. I've started to read your blog. I promise I will read all the posts. I, too, am also a Mom from Bowie, Md. Happy Holidays, and just know that you have a few fans out here who will read your blog with much interest. < wink,wink>