In 2 weeks time James and I will have been married for 6 years.
That’s 2191 days (1 leap year included). Of that 2191 we will have been apart because of deployments for exactly 600 days. The dates are indelibly marked on my brain and I just sat and did the maths. That doesn’t include other times that the Air Force has taken him away from us either.
Over 27% of our marriage we’ve been separated. And it’s bloody hard sometimes.
Generally I paste a smile on my face, function on autopilot, take the mother and father role with the kids and keep busy. Mind over matter. Adapt and overcome. Just get on with it. These are all mantras I mutter daily.
But sometimes, just sometimes, and admittedly it happens very rarely. I stop. I think. And it really hurts. It’s pretty hard.
Wednesday was one of those days. It was Joseph’s 2nd birthday and it was such a non-event for him. I know in my heart that he knows no different. He’s a young 2 (politically correct for he hasn’t ever got a clue what day it is). But I know.
I know that we didn’t celebrate as a family. We didn’t have a cake. We didn’t give him all of the attention that the occasion deserved. In fact, Joey and I spent the day in the car ferrying Emmie to and from pre-school. A total of 97 miles and over 3 hours. What a let down.
And when I stopped and thought, (I usually try not to think) I cried. I didn’t even cry when I cracked my motherlovin’ head on the circuit breaker earlier in the week. Instead then, I actually thought I was going to pass out. It was ok, it was past bedtime so the children were safe in their beds.
Any Forces spouse will tell you that they have the pivotal role in the family. We have to be strong. We have to put up and shut up. We get even less say in our lives than our husbands, and they get none. Of course we married into it but no one really knows what that means when we say I do. Our husbands and wives miss out on a lot, but so do we; the person that we married because, y’know, we actually quite like them and want them to be around. And we have the added worry and anxiety of their location and proximity to potential danger.
People tell me that they couldn’t do it, which is slightly unhelpful and just not true. You can do anything that you put your mind to. I’m not particularly strong. I hate changing light bulbs, taking out the rubbish and taking the car to the garage (4 times and counting so far over the past 4 months). Bollocks to the stereotyping; they’re James’s jobs in our relationship.
So please wish the next two months away quickly for me. Send Easter as fast as you can. Remind me that there are people that are far far worse off than I’ll ever be. And tell me that this is what Joe will remember of this week..