Every so often my husband gets that dreaded piece of paper notifying him of an upcoming deployment, instantly making me a single parent again. Deployments can range from 4 months to 1 year in length (sometimes longer in certain circumstances) but can feel like a lifetime to those left at home. We are definitely thankful for his job, but occasionally it can seem like the sacrifices we go through as a military family outweigh the benefits. I am very lucky to have a great support system to help me through those tough times, and a husband who doesn’t think twice about serving his country. All of the TDY’s and deployments we have conquered have made me a stronger, more self confident mother warrior.
I have been asked over and over, “How do you do it?,” or have been told, “I could never be a military wife, I can’t stand it when my husband is gone over night, and I would never be able to deal with a long deployment.” Well, to be honest, I never thought I could either. When I married into the military I had no idea what a deployment was, and I was even more clueless about the fact that I would be required to live from time to time as a single parent. However, you learn to do what you have to do. When you have no other choice than to get up in the morning and go about your daily business, you just do it. And when you add a child with special needs to the picture you really have your plate full, but life doesn’t stand still so you can take a time out. I like to think of deployments and my “temporary single parent-ness” as an obstacle I must overcome, and I set a few personal goals and a few family goals to help me look toward the future and not back at what life was like in the past (when my husband was home to help).
If I could offer advice to anyone new to the military, new to raising a child with special needs in the military, or just someone needing to remember that “YOU CAN DO THIS,” it would be the following: “Take it one moment at a time at first, then ease your way into it one day at a time, and eventually you will be breezing through the week and wondering where the time has gone”. Life is not always easy… and rarely fair. You have the chance to make the best of each situation and prove to yourself, and everyone else, that you are strong and you can handle anything that comes your way…you are a Mother (or Father) Warrior!
My name is Dr. Jill Tschikof. I am the mother of three and a military spouse. We have had struggles and successes raising a child with autism while serving in the military and I hope that my future stories will act as a form of guidance for others navigating this same path. You can find my personal blog at www.autismdeal.com. I hope that you will email me if you have any questions.