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How Much Fun is Appropriate During a Deployment?

Am I the only one who cancels previously scheduled family vacations when the active duty member deploys?

Alright, alright, alright … I know I will go on living and do all kinds of super-fun stuff with the kids when my husband deploys this spring;  with two pre-teen boys we will have to get out of the house and trips to the mall just don’t cut it anymore.  But just how much fun is appropriate to keep you and kids entertained, make the time go by faster, whatever, without seeming like you don’t give a hoot about your deployed servicemember?

Case in point:  We had a cruise lined up for April with two other families and had all kinds of plans for our boys’ first time out to sea.  So when this last notice of deployment didn’t go away, and briefings/vaccinations/trainings were scheduled, I realized it was time to pull the plug on the trip.

Wa-wa.

Shameful admittance … I actually gave a two second thought to going on the cruise anyway, and which of my friends should accompany the boys and me.  Then I thought how the entire time we were on the vacation, I would think of my husband and how he was playing in an entirely different kind of sand and for a completely different reason.  I instantly felt guilty and mentally flogged myself for even considering such foolishness.  Hello … I mean, the vacation was planned as a family vacation.  How insensitive could I get? What would the postcard say?

Hi, Honey!  How are you?

The Caribbean is great this time of year!  Thanks for setting this up for us to enjoy without you!  

Wish you were here!  

XOXO

Since I had entertained the thought all on my own, pray tell me why was I so flabbergasted by the cruise line agent when I called to cancel our reservation? I felt compelled to spill my guts and tell her that it would be hard to go on a family vacation when my husband would be in Afghanistan.  To which she quickly inquired, “Are you sure you don’t want to go without him?”

I was speechless.  When I finally found my voice and the crickets on my end of the phone fell silent, I simply replied, “Yes.  Yes I am sure,” all while wondering when someone will invent a phone with button that allocates throat punches.

Did her words hit me like a slap in the face because, for a brief moment, I had asked myself the same question and was disgusted by my own audacity?  Or was it because I was taken aback by her insensitivity to our situation?  Or was it because maybe it is okay to continue on with family plans and I am a wuss?

Here’s what  I am thinking:  That we keep all “fun” planning on the down low until he is in-country, and then I can begin to periodically plan stuff on the calendar to keep it moving so the concentration isn’t all on that distant date when Daddy is scheduled to come home.  This is not to keep him out of the loop, but so he doesn’t feel like we don’t care and just can’t wait for him to get out of the house so all the real fun can begin.  He will want us to live, he will want us to celebrate important days, and he will want us to do anything we can so the time moves quickly on our end, but we sure don’t want to rub those family trips without him in his face.

What are your thoughts?  How much fun hits the right balance during a deployment?  And do you plan before the deployment begins?

About Heidi

Married to her high school sweetheart/AD Air Force man, Heidi was initially reluctant to life as a dependent, finally drank the Kool-Aid, and has since embraced being an active Air Force spouse. With a background in sports medicine, she has no real reason to write other than she enjoys it and likes to get others thinking. Heidi enjoys at-will employment as a substitute teacher, serving as an Arlington Lady, mothering two boys, rehabbing their short sale home purchase, recovering from a case of volunteeritis, correcting her verb tense, and learning more acronyms.