Military mama: Apology for lacking deployment sympathy

I committed the cardinal sin of military spouses the other day. No, I’m not talking about the unfair stereotypes of cheaters and gold diggers that are the exception, not the rule.

I’m talking about diminishing another spouses’ deployment blues.

The words came out of my mouth before I even had a second thought, my response was seemingly innocent enough. In reference to a four-month deployment.

“Oh well, that’s not TOO bad.”

In all fairness four months is the bare minimum, and just a drop in the hat for many who have endured much longer, and multiple, tours. But, it wasn’t my role to remind her.

This was a first deployment for a newlywed and over the most family-centric holidays. In her situation, that truly seems like forever. So, I do apologize, sincerely. I know it’s not easy.

Those little dismissals, brush offs truly can sting. There are so many seemingly supportive phrases that are uttered often in attempts to buoy up the solo spouse but miss the mark.

• “Well at least he’s not in (insert latest CNN coverage of insurgencies).”

• “At least it’s not a year.”

• “Oh, that’s not too bad. When MY husband was gone it was…” (insert how much harder this person/family had it than you — who are currently in the moment of missing your loved one.)

• “Well he shouldn’t be over there anyway, I mean we need to deal with our issues here before…” (insert long political rant that has nothing to do with your situation, other than the fact that there is a war on and your honey is in it — while this person should really be writing their senator not giving you a dissertation on their politics.)

• “Well at least he’s on a base, he’s safe there.” (Yes, that is what is prayed for, every night. If only it were that simple that there shouldn’t even be a second thought about safety.)

Particularly at this time of year we should be sensitive to the concerns and well-being of not only those that are deployed, but also the families of those servicemen and women who are just plodding through trying to get through the day. We can be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear or better yet a surrogate family. Make sure that those families are not feeling isolated, there are so many activities and opportunities for service.

And if you are the homebound spouse anxiously awaiting your hero’s return, I do have some advice as well. Keep yourself busy! There are so many things to do gearing up for the holidays, participate in events you might not otherwise. Don’t think of yourself as a charity project when people do check on you, we do it because we genuinely care. And most of all, when some moron, like myself in this instance, puts their foot in their mouth, don’t let it get to you. Some people just don’t get it!