by Kimmie Fink, Guest Contributor
When you’re a military spouse, you know deployment is part of the deal. For many spouses, moving home during that 6-, 9-, or 12-month period is both a viable and attractive option.
But for many of us, it’s just not the right choice. Unfortunately, many military spouses, myself included, find ourselves in the position of having to defend our decision to stay. If you haven’t experienced deployment yourself, you don’t necessarily understand the intricacies of the situation.
That’s why, even though people say it with the best of intentions, “just move home” is a tone-deaf suggestion.
My own husband urged me to move back to my home state. Before he deployed, we were trying for another baby. He was paranoid that, living in the South, I’d be at risk for Zika. When our pregnancy plans didn’t pan out, he still encouraged me to go stay with my family, worried that my depression and anxiety would get the best of me. It was difficult for him to understand that at the end of the day, I just didn’t want to go. So I’ve stayed put and I have my reasons.
There’s No Room at the Inn
The split level I grew up in now houses my parents, brother, niece, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. Add me, my kid, and my animals, and you have a freaking rodeo. I’m sure my folks would welcome me with open arms, but there’s just not enough space (or hot water) for that many sentient beings.
Two Mortgages/Rental Payments Are Way Above Our Pay Grade
So if I can’t live in my childhood home, I’ve got to get another place. That’s a little problematic since we bought a house at our current duty station. It happens to be a house that I love. My husband proposed that we simply rent our house fully furnished. This Household 6 quickly put the kibosh on that idea, but I didn’t want to leave it empty either. Even if we could swing 2 payments financially, it seems awfully wasteful to pay for a place I’m not living in.
Haven’t I Moved Enough Already?
My daughter is not yet 2 years old and she’s lived in 3 states. That’s right – 2 permanent changes of station in 2 years. It’s an ordeal every time. If I moved home, I’d have to do all the packing myself and then schlep my menagerie cross-country.
I guess I could hire movers on my own dime, but I figure I might as well stay here and destroy my priceless belongings and new couch myself rather than pay for the privilege.
I Don’t Have the Energy to Figure Out Tricare in Another State
Do you know how long it took me to establish a primary care manager? I think it’s best measured in tears shed over the phone. I live far away enough to have an off-post doctor unless I need a specialist. I really don’t enjoy playing referral roulette locally, so having to navigate the system elsewhere? No thanks.
My Community Is Here
I am extremely lucky in that I have an Army family that has been with us for the last 3 duty stations (I know, that never happens). They’re who I call when I need a last-minute babysitter or an emergency wine delivery. My in-laws live a few hours away. I’m also part of a supportive mom group full of ladies who understand from experience exactly what I’m going through. My daughter loves her preschool and I couldn’t bear to take her away from it. We’ve made our home here and I want to honor the fact that we’ve put down roots.
I’m Currently Accepting Visitors
Honestly, it is so much easier to have my loved ones come to me (although we’ve taken some nice little side trips to help break up the time). My sister came and stayed for a week, and my mom was here for a whole month. I have a lovely little guest room, and every time I have a visitor, I’m grateful it’s not me who’s living out of a suitcase.
I’m Not Going to Magically Stop Missing My Husband
You know that saying, “No matter where you go, there you are?” I feel like that really applies to my circumstances.
Sure, I could move home, but it wouldn’t change the fact that my partner is gone. Certain things are easier when you have more hands on deck, but I’d really prefer that those hands be my husband’s. I could be anywhere in the world; I’m still going to miss his face, worry about his safety and count the days until he returns.
There’s no getting around the fact that deployment sucks. Hard. You do whatever you have to do to get through it in one piece.
For some spouses, the way they hold on to sanity is to spend the time back home in the company of friends and family. That’s a valid choice, but so is mine. Spouses who head home aren’t tucking tail and I’m not some sort of hero for keeping the home fires burning. We’re all just doing the best we can, and that? That’s enough.
Kimmie Fink is a stay-at-home mom, staff writer at Romper, and consultant, Nationally Certified Facilitator, and blogger for Welcoming Schools, a project of the Human Rights Campaign. Her work has been featured on Scary Mommy and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Kimmie blogs on issues of diversity and equity for elementary educators and parents of young children. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.