Monday, May 3, 2010

What Not To Say

I have seen these types of lists all over the Internet...this is basically a collection of the ones I could relate to the most. I try to keep in mind that people have good intentions and are simply trying to empathize, but really, it is surprising at the comments you hear over and over, through the course of a deployment.

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?" Ummmm...yeah. However, I try not to dwell on that aspect of it. Thanks for reminding me, though.
2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it." Don't really have a choice!
3. For soldiers in Afghanistan: "At least he's not in Iraq!" For soldiers in Iraq: "At least he's not in Afghanistan!" Steve will be in Iraq again, and I've already heard this one. Don't assume that just because Iraq isn't mentioned that much in the news anymore that it's a big picnic over there. There are still approximately 130,000 soldiers there.
4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?" No. Soldiers are granted a 2-week "R&R" (rest and relaxation) during their deployment. They don't have a lot (if any) say as to when that R&R will be.
5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?" This one kind of blows my mind in the same way my mind is blown when someone asks me what I do all day as a stay-at-home-mom.
6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?" There are many soldiers (like Steve) who will be in the military until age of retirement, and aren't looking to get out.
7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it." For me, this deployment is going to be much different than the last one. The last one was 18 months instead of 12. However, this time I have two little boys, ages 4 & 7, who will be profoundly affected by their father's absence. The last time, I had a one-year old, who at this point in time doesn't remember that Steve was ever gone.
8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through." Although well-intended, business trips and deployments are not even remotely the same thing.
9. "I'm totally against the war. Bring the troops home now!" How about supporting the troops that are there?
10. “Do you miss him?” This is one that I heard all the time last time! Seriously!

I just have to add a few of my own to the above list. During Steve's last deployment, when I was still working full-time, there was an office mate of mine that would arrive at work in the morning and immediately make a bee-line for my desk and say something along the lines of, "OH MY GOSH!! DID YOU SEE THE NEWS THIS MORNING??? TWO SOLDIERS WERE KILLED IN IRAQ!! HAVE YOU HEARD FROM YOUR HUSBAND??? WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU TALKED????" Seriously. I am not kidding. She did this for the entire deployment. I would repeatedly tell her that I was always worried, but that I tried not to dwell on it (hint, hint). Unfortunately, she never took the hint!

Another gem from the last deployment stemmed fact that not only did I have a baby to care for, but also a yard full of yard work that needed to get done. I use to sit Camden in a chair on the front steps to mow, but sometimes he just wouldn't stay put. So, there I am, mowing the lawn with one hand, while holding Camden on my hip with the other. Across the street sat my able-bodied neighbor, drinking a beer and watching me. At one point he yells over, "HEY! If you ever need anything, just ask!" Nope...don't need any help here! Just mowin' my lawn and holdin' my baby! Gives my arms a better work out this way! Thanks though! Again, probably well-intentioned, but you most likely will not find a military spouse asking people to help her (at least not me). If you want to be helpful, offer specific - - those types of offers are more likely to be accepted.

And finally, just the other day I had someone say to me, "Aren't you mad at your husband? I would be SO mad at my husband if he got deployed!" I heard this comment the last time, too. Um, no....I'm not mad at my husband, but I sure do feel sorry for yours!


  1. I laughed hysterically at the end of this because I had a neighbor stop me while I was mowing with child starpped in the bjorn to say just that "if you ever need anything...." and then happily walk into his house and watch me finish from his window (and yes I saw him watching...)
    I guess people who have not been through it just can not possibly understand. Number 8 is my least favorite.
    So glad to find your blog!

  2. That's too funny, "lawn mowing" story has always been my favorite nutty story from our last deployment. I try to always keep in mind that most everyone has good intentions, but like you said, unless you've actually been through it, there is no way to understand. I'm so happy to be meeting so many people who DO understand!


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