Five Years, Two Kids and Four Deployments Later

One of the many things I’ve learned: the military spouses I met Tuesday night are women of action. I invited them to contribute to this blog. Within 24 hours, MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club President Jackie Dorr had responded. My thanks to her and to future contributors. Now, I ask all to pass this on so collectively our nation can better understand: the military family is the heart and soul of our volunteer, professional United States Military.

BY JACKIE DORR

I was standing in a restaurant picking up a catering order for the (Enlisted Spouses Club) ESC’s meeting later that night, and an older woman at the bar noticed Anastin’s (our 6 month old) “daddy quilt.”  I took a deep breath because I knew what was coming.  It happens all the time: “Where is he? When does he come home? Is it for good? Gosh it must be so hard, I don’t know how you do it.” Sometimes, I find this irritating, and sometimes I will sit and talk with the person.  The conversation always, without fail, ends with a “tell your husband thank you for me.”

I realize there are so many people out there that are clueless as to what our lifestyle is.  My husband, Brian, and I got married on Veterans Day. He was a PFC (Private First Class) and had been in the Army for almost three years.  I am a military brat. So, I felt confident I was prepared for the road ahead.

SSgt. Brian Dorr celebrates his daughter's, Paisley, second birthday via webcam.

Fast forward five years, two kids and four deployments later!  I have slept alone more often than I have next to my love.  We calculated it once and the ratio worked out that Brian had actually been deployed nearly 75 percent of our relationship.  People joke that I’m a pro at this. I’m not.  It is impossible to be as each deployment offers its own unique challenges, but I am definitely seasoned.  With that said, my life is in fact made up of deployments.  So what does being a wife to a deployed soldier mean? What is the life like?

Undoubtedly, Murphy’s Law will kick in as soon as Brian steps foot in another country.  The car will break down, the washer will stop washing, the computer network will crash etc.  Which means, either I figure it out myself and gain a new skill, or my husband gets to talk me through something via a bad connection with a huge delay.

Jackie holds the cell phone and daughter Anastin so she can talk to Daddy.

On a good day, I will realize at 1500 (3 p.m.) that somehow I managed to make our daughters presentable to the world, but somehow have forgotten to shower. When cleaning, I will always clean around the dirty pair of socks laying on his side of the bed ( he took them off the day before he left and left them there for me to wash). They remind me of him, so they will stay there until he comes home, as will the three pairs of shoes under the coffee table. When I change the sheets on our bed, his pillow will remain untouched, even if it is the wrong color, it still smells like him and makes me feel closer to him.

My laptop is always on. I am always logged into AIM, YAHOO, GMAIL, and Facebook. I will do my best to be available when he is able to get online.  My phone is never more than an arms length away just in case it is him. And every time it rings, Paisley (our 2 year old) exclaims “I WANNA SAY HI DADDY!”  We say goodbye to the sun and send it to Daddy, and hello to the moon because we know Daddy sent it from his “work”

Many military children rely on Daddy Dolls to stay connected to a deployed parent. Here Anastin is giving her Daddy Brian Doll a big smile.

We have Daddy Dolls, Daddy Blankies, Daddy Pillows, and Daddy Books, most of those items go everywhere with us.  I tear up when I think about Paisley crawling while Brian was deployed and taking her first steps 30 minutes before his plane touched down.  I get frustrated when I have to do a simple chore and can’t just run out leaving the kids with Daddy. It can be such a pain to lug the kids in for a quick trip, but I try to remind myself this is only temporary.  That’s when I start to figure it in my head how many days do we have left?

When I realize we are on the downhill portion, I get excited and imagine what the homecoming is going to be like.  Last time, I thought Paisley would be ecstatic to see her father, that dream was quickly shattered! She was terrified of him, it broke his heart, I could see it on his face.

All the distance has in fact brought us closer through the years. There have been ups and downs, but we pulled through.  Every time he comes home, we are new again, and that is exciting.  As soon as I get used to having Brian home, I find myself watching him pack again and begin to psyche myself up to say goodbye another time.  Each goodbye gets more difficult, but I pull through because Brian is a Soldier, and I’m his very lucky wife.

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Free Classes for Military on Base and in Brandon

My continued appreciation to USAF Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple who passed along this information. For as long as I’ve known him, Rex has always been learning – taking a graduate classes, reading books, reviewing online newspapers.

MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL.

Active duty personnel, their families, Department of Defense civilians, Reservists and retirees are being offered free computer classes at MacDill Air Force Base and at MacDill’s Family Resource Center in Brandon.

The classes are a partnership between MacDill and Giant Campus. The courses are available with instructors at five sites on base, at the Brandon Family Resource Center and online with a home self-study option. There are two ways to register or get more information: call the Brandon Family Resource Center at 813-655-9281 or go online at www.giantcampus.com/macdill.

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