by Ali Maruca, Guest Contributor
I spent 4 years as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy. On my deployments, as we steamed back home, statistics were read over the 1MC (the shipboard PA system) and quite often they sounded something like:
- 3.5 million gallons of fuel consumed
- 1.25 million miles traveled
- 8 port visits
- 14,010 eggs eaten
- 743 gallons of ice cream consumed
- 17 babies born while the ship was away
- 2 test missiles fired
- 860 hamburgers flipped on the grill
- 5,320 rounds of ammunition expelled in training scenarios
Some were real and serious statistics; others were fun figures that help show a little bit of the realness of life at sea.
Today, rather than being the one who sails over the horizon tasked with the mission to support America’s interests abroad, I’m at home with our 2 babies while my husband sails away.
Toward the end of our most recent deployment, I took my son to get his hair cut. Making conversation, the stylist asked Connor how long daddy had been gone. When I responded, “this is a 6-month deployment,” her response was, “well that’s not so bad.”
She’s right, 6 months isn’t a long deployment compared to those facing 9 months, a year or even more.
I started to think how it’s not the number of months that measure a deployment. It’s those crazy statistics read over the 1MC that tell the larger stories of deployments.
Why shouldn’t I have stats to show what I’ve accomplished while my husband is at sea? And though I can’t even fathom what the numbers really are, my deployment data might look something like this:
My Deployment Data
- Miles ran – 125
- Books read – 5
- Money spent – Let’s just say I enjoyed the ease of retail therapy from my couch.
- Solo bedtime routines (with a toddler and an infant – no small feat) – 159
- Visits to new playgrounds (so many slides!) – 8
- Shows binge-watched on Netflix from start to finish – 3
- Pounds lost – 10
- FaceTime sessions – 8
- Miles driven on solo road trips – 692
- Bottles of wine consumed – Nope. Won’t even go there.
- Care packages sent – 4
- Mom’s Nights Out – 2 (obviously, not nearly enough)
- Homes purchased – 1 (we PCSed immediately after deployment and I was tasked with purchasing our new home)
- Trips to the beach – 3
- Number of toddler/baby kisses and cuddles – countless
When I turned to some fellow military spouse friends, they gave me some great ideas too!
- Trips to the ER
- Nights you served cold cereal or take-out for dinner
- Calls to your mom
- Family events (weddings, birthday parties, baptisms, etc) you attended alone
- Hours spent pursuing a professional goal (degree, job promotion, volunteer hours, etc)
- Trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot to fix something broken in the house
Similarly, some of these stats are silly, but they illustrate the realness of life at home with a deployed service member.
Murphy’s Law always wreaks havoc as soon as you wave the ship, bus or plane goodbye and the trips to the ER often multiply or the plumbing inevitably backs-up or the car breaks down.
But deployments are not all bad.
Routines are simpler. Meals are less fussy. Time is focused and goals are accomplished whether we realize it or not.
Your stats, while it would be hard to keep track of them, are certainly something to accompany crossing deployment goals off your list.
When I was a junior officer, I always rolled my eyes (caveat: I rolled my eyes A LOT in those early years.) when I saw the bumper sticker, “Navy Wife: Hardest Job in the Navy.” Man, karma is a bitch. Because today, I will absolutely admit that keeping those home fires burning is way harder than being the one deployed.
And while deployment is certainly no cakewalk for our service members (please know I’m not downplaying at all what our men and women do when we kiss them goodbye), we can all agree that staying home isn’t easy either.
Deployment is a roller coaster of emotions often ranging from “I’ve got this because I’m such a rock star” to crying into a bottle of wine or pint of ice cream (pick your poison) at the end of battling the worst day ever.
But regardless, when you reach that finish line and you look back over the past 6, 9 or 12 months, make sure you review your goals and tally up your own deployment data. Whether your stats show that you trained for and ran a marathon, kept little people alive, earned a job promotion, or you channeled your inner Joanna Gaines for some home renovations, those are the facts and figures that prove that you are a total badass.
Ali is a busy mom, Navy wife and Naval Reserve officer. She is passionate about supporting other military families and raising awareness of the unique challenges associated with military life. You can usually find her planning her family’s next big adventure or binge-watching Netflix with a glass of wine.