When I appeared on WCAX to talk about this "Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family" series, anchor Molly Smith asked me, "Are you mostly talking about the struggles? Or are there positives, as well?"
At first, I laughed to myself. Positives? That word does not coincide with the word "deployment." But it got me thinking. Are there benefits of this journey? There have to be.
I forced myself to sit down and make a list. Here's what I came up with:
Relationship building with the kids. Without Matt at home, my nights and weekends are more open, allowing me to really focus on them. I've made it a point to spend some one-on-one time with each of my sons. I've been doing quite a bit of baking with my youngest son. I've taken my oldest out to dinner, just the two of us. My middle son and I have spent some nice quality time over mounds of Legos. It's been nice to connect with each of them in this way.
Chick flicks. I've caught up on all those "girl movies" I never get to watch. I've cried without being laughed at, and laughed without, well, being laughed at. He's not a fan of romantic comedies, that husband of mine.
Cooking break! I have allowed myself to take a simpler approach to meal time. You know kids — they'll eat hot dogs every night of the week! Not that I let them...
Cleaning break! I am a clean freak, it's true. Which is why I have been quite surprised at how much I've let slip in the cleaning department. Make the bed? Why the heck would I do that? I'm the only person climbing into it at night.
Taking care of myself. It's funny that this intensely demanding time has forced me to take care of myself. Because I've taken the cooking and cleaning down a notch, I've carved out time to go to the gym, read and just plain rest when I need it. It's been nice. And I may have a hard time letting that go when Matt gets home.
Good thing he likes hot dogs.
Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.