Deployment’s Emotional Cycles: Stage 1 for an Army Mom

Tracie Ciambotti's son, Josh, and his sister Danielle on Christmas Eve, December 2010.

The first stage of the emotional cycle of deployment, according to Hooah4Health, is “Anticipation of Departure” which begins when the service member receives an order for deployment.  The increased frequency of deployments has unfortunately imprisoned military families in a constant roller coaster of emotions because the cycle never ends—stage one often begins before stage seven is completed.

When my son, Josh, returned from Iraq the end of 2009 he already knew his brigade was scheduled for Afghanistan the summer of 2011; while we transitioned into non-deployment life, the anticipation of him leaving again was always lurking. 

Josh with his wife, Alison, and mother, Tracie, coloring Easter eggs, April 2011.

As the mother of a soldier currently serving his third deployment in six years, I have learned to make the most of the months between deployments.  It’s not just taking the time it is making the time to spend every possible minute with him while he is stateside, knowing that opportunity shrinks with each passing day.  Holidays and special events shared with him are precious because they are few.  I was able to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas with Josh in 2010 and we colored Easter eggs together this past April—all of which were rare events only possible because my husband and I relocated to Colorado last year.  I am very fortunate to live close to Josh’s home post now at Fort Carson; many families are not able to spend holidays with their service member even when they are not deployed because of where their loved one is serving. 

Making memories coloring Easter eggs 2011 prior to deployment.

As Josh’s deployment date drew closer, we got together for dinner every weekend when possible.  It is an emotional tug of war feeling like you can’t miss one opportunity to create another memory before he leaves—in case he doesn’t come back. 

This is a challenging stage for every member of a military family because the service member has many things to accomplish prior to being gone for a full year and the family members want to savor every minute.  The anticipation of departure for me as a mother is very different from what is experienced by a spouse.  I will share my daughter-in-law’s perspective in my next post. 

If you are a member (other than spouse) of a military family, I would love to hear your experiences with stage one.

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12 Responses

  1. It is good to hear the perspective of a parent, as I am all to aware of the spouses perspective. Very well written!!

    • Thanks Jackie. I do believe that knowing each perspective helps us support each other as we are all going through the same deployment – but have very different emotions about it.

  2. Thank you Tracie! Your heart is in your writing.

  3. […] Cycles: Stage 2 for an Army Wife   Deployment Emotional Cycles: Stage 1 for an Army Wife   Deployment Emotional Cycles: Stage 1 for an Army Mom   Freedom is Not Free, Military Families Pay the Price   Eco World Content From Across The […]

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH,MY SON DEPLOYS OUT AT THE END OF THIS MONTH,HIS 1ST AND AS A MOTHER THIS IS VERY EMOTIONAL, AS I SIT HERE READING TEARS ARE STREAMING DOWN. I AM TRYING TO BE VERY STRONG BECAUSE I DON/T WANT HIM TO WORRY ABOUT THE HOMEFRONT. AS A SINGLE PARENT HE ALWAYS WAS MY ROCK. SO I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS I AM GOING TO COPY SO I HAVE SOMETHING TO FALL BACK ON AND REMEMBER WHAT I NEED TO DO AS A MILITARY MOM TO MAKE THIS AS EASY ON MY SOLDIER AS POSSIBLE

    • Gerry,
      You will be in my thoughts and prayers. My son is in Afghanistan – currently serving out his 3rd deployment. Please visit my website at http://www.militaryfamiliesministry.com to see how we support the entire military family. I began this ministry so that we parents and family members of our nation’s heroes can join together and support one another in a very challenging life. You can contact me via the website and I look forward to connecting with you.

  5. Thank you for putting into words what is on our hearts. My son Chance is going for his second deployment soon and we are at the stage 1. I want to be with him every second I can…..and he has many people he wants to spend time with. Its one of the hardest things I have ever done. I tried to make his time at home Christmas as special as possible. And to cherish each second I had with him. We have a large family and he has lots of friends. It is so hard to get everything in. I am not sure how to describe how I feel! How do you describe so much pride and belief in your child at the same time your heart is aching knowing he will miss meals, be cold, be in danger, not sleep in comfort and be away from everyone he loves. And the fear at times becomes almost too much. I try really hard to keep in the front of my heart and mind that God has a plan for him. And He can keep him better than I can (which is hard to admit since he’s my baby!) I know a lot of parents are facing deployment of a child right now and I hurt for them also. Just like I hurt for the girlfriends and wives and children of those who are deployed. I wish there was some way to ease the pain and fear, just one day at a time and a constant reminder that God is ever present.

    • Hi Lynlee,

      Thank you for your kind words. My heart does ache at times for my son, but I am so very proud of the man he has become in the Army and I am grateful that there are brave men and women that are willing to serve and sacrifice to ensure freedom for our nation. God gives me the strength and peace that I need to survive being the mother of a soldier, which is why I began my ministry. Please visit my website at http://www.militaryfamiliesministry to see how we support military families. I would love to connect with you.

      • Thanks Tracie, Chance left 2 weeks ago, I think right now I am just in the in shock, adjusting, angry stage. I would though like to get in touch with you and maybe I can help someone else. This deployment is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. They are all bad but the fear with this one is overwhelming. Every morning and every night and when I wake up in the night I pray and I know God’s hands are much more capable than mine…..but I still tend to want to take care of him! I’d love to read anything you recommend, and I’d be happy to help if I can. Thanks Lynlee

  6. this is a club I didnt sign up for and RESENT what I dont understand is why is everyone so complancent with it? I have protested against war my whole life, and now that my son joined the Army and he is at Ft Carson also, I WILL DIE FIGHTING AGAINST THIS WAR TO BRING THEM ALL HOME. I have no intention of accepting this deployment or accepting that this war is nothing but $$$$$$ to corporate america,

    • Hi Sheri,

      Thank you for your comment. I do not feel that I am complacent about my son’s service or the sacrifice that he and our family makes. The fact is our nation won its freedom because brave men were willing to sacrifice and die for that cause. I am not a fan of war and I am not for or against any war, but I do recognize that war is part of life and I firmly believe that if we did not have brave men and women willing to serve our country – we would not be able to maintain the very freedom that allows us each to have and voice our own opinion.

      It must be very difficult for you having your son make the decision to serve his country with your viewpoint on war. Being the mother of a soldier is difficult, particularly when they are in war zones, but I know that it was my son’s choice to serve his country and I am very proud of him and his selfless sacrifice. It frightens me to think about the life we would be living if it were not for brave men like your son and mine who are willing to carry the burden of freedom for our nation.

      I founded a ministry called Military Families Ministry – which is entirely focused on supporting our service members and their families. I invite you to visit our website at http://www.militaryfamiliesministry.com to see how we support military families. My prayers will be with you and your family.

      • Tracie I am also having an issue with “thou shall not kill” we are all gods people.I never understood how you can justify taking a life.This war is not about freedom, the only war the usa ever fought for freedom was revolutionary war.I am really not seeing how to bring in god and family when it comes to deployment.I do not like my son is being taught to kill, or to survive others trying to kill him.I never wanted that for anyone.I also am a single mother, my mother just died 50 days ago and now this.I will protest til I cant walk another step.This war is about money thats all its about.Dont you think if it was about oil that if every military family parked their car in protest that wld not ruffle some feathers?We dont have to like what our children choose to do, its our job to protect them, change their mind these are young people who like my son arent even old enough to buy a beer , our government does not think they are mature enough, yet they are mature enough to sign away their life, for what? and God agrees with it? no not for me.Iknow there are other mothers, wives, kids who feel the same so do something to bring them home, stop the war and make america a better place, dont we teach our children not to be bullies? to treat people like they want to be treated?I appreciate what you are trying to do, this was wonderful poem.But I will never accept this no more than I accepted the draft and protested against it.

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