Peter recently returned home from his sixth (and final!) deployment.
He had been in Afghanistan for the past six months while the kids and I stayed here in Valdosta,
galavanting and having great fun trying to survive until he got home.
Deployments stink. There is no other way to describe them. When Peter is deployed, I miss him. Obviously. And the kids miss him. Plus, it’s exhausting being the sole adult making all the adult decisions.
Sometimes I don’t really love adulting…
As I reflect back on this deployment, here are a few things I learned:
Single moms are flipping incredible. It was ridiculously hard to be a single mom for six months. Harder than I ever thought it would be. Peter has deployed five previous times, but it was much more difficult this go round because we now have three kids. I was completely outnumbered and unable to give my full attention to all the kids at one time.
But what about those single moms who have been working this gig for years? I can’t even. They never have a night off. They don’t have the opportunity to just sit around, relaxing and eating bonbons. (Do people really do this?) I can’t even begin to fathom how exhausted they must be because I was tired and Peter was only gone for six months.
Just last week I was telling a couple friends that the day after Peter got home, I took a real nap.
Like, a nap where I had crazy dreams.
A nap where I was in such deep sleep that I heard absolutely nothing else going on in the house. A burglar could’ve broken through the front door and I wouldn’t have known it.
It was the kind of nap that, when I tried to wake up, my eyes wouldn’t even open.
It. Was. Glorious.
I hadn’t napped like that in months.
And just as I was finishing up my precious little nap time story, I realized I was talking to one of my single mom friends. She has been a single mom for four years. Do you hear me? FOUR. YEARS. She probably can’t remember the last time she had time for a nap.
I felt just a smidge guilty for going on and on about my stupid nap.
Single moms, y’all…
Kids are resilient. My kids are awesome. Energetic and high-strung and bossy and exhausting. But also awesome. Having their dad gone on a “long trip, fighting bad guys” is pretty traumatic, but all three of them handled it like a champ. We got into a fairly good routine and made the best of it. Of course, they missed him and they loved talking to him on FaceTime. (Ok, they mostly loved seeing themselves on FaceTime.) And occasionally, when I had to reprimand Vivienne for misbehaving, she would throw a tantrum and cry, “I miss Daddy!” over and over. But mostly, they handled this deployment like pros.
There’s nothing like having their daddy home, though…
I don’t have as much patience as I would like to think I have. I desire to be a patient, calm, gentle person. But that’s really not how I was made. No one has ever called me gentle. Ever. In my entire life. Patient and calm are not words that most people would use to describe me. But goodness, I really want to embody those descriptions. Peter’s deployment reminded me that I have a huge tendency to let little things get under my skin. The smallest setback can send my day right down the drain. I’m working on this though. And this brings me to the next thing this deployment taught me:
Jesus is bigger than my frustrations. It’s true. He really is. When I stop and pray, when I plead and ask for His help or His wisdom, He gives it to me. When I find myself getting impatient or feeling out of sorts, if I take a minute to seek Christ, He brings a sense of calm and peace to me and I am able to act more rationally than I would have if I hadn’t sought Him. I really wish I could remember this all the time…
I’m extremely proud of Peter’s service and commitment. From the time Peter was a very small boy, he knew he wanted to fly in the US Air Force. He had a goal and he achieved it. I am so proud of his sacrifice and his commitment to the military and to our country. He has such integrity, honor and a sense of duty and calling that is different from so many other people I know. (Me included.)
The day he returned from his deployment, we ran through the ChickFilA drive through (because we were all starving), and we struck up a conversation with the girl taking our order. Peter was in his uniform and he mentioned that he hadn’t had ChickFilA for the past six months so they, much to our surprise, gave us our meal at no charge. I started tearing up (because that’s what I do), and Peter kept trying to pay them anyway (because that’s what he does). And in that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud of my man for all that he has done for our country and our family.
So, yeah. Deployments stink. But even though the past six months weren’t all roses and rainbows, the Lord taught me a few lessons through the difficulties. And He wants to do the same for you.
The Word of God tells us that we should “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:3-6 NIV)
The next time you’re experiencing a hard situation in your life, look to Christ for comfort and guidance. He will not disappoint you. Instead, He will fill you with His love and He might just teach you something in the process.