We all miss our husbands for various reasons. Admittedly, I forget Devin is even gone thanks to the all-consuming demands of my three children. Averaging, daily, 18 diapers and 8 outfits, 2 loads of laundry, 9 meals/snacks, one load of dishes as well as the inherent demands of nursing, I hardly have time for personal hygiene!
But last Sunday, when sitting contemplatively at Church and relishing every nanosecond of alone time, I was momentarily taken aback by an awakening breeze saturated with cologne from a man briskly walking past my aisle. Because I don’t get out much nor associate with anyone outside my estrogen circle of friends, I abruptly remembered what those masculine, knuckle-scraping, virile creatures were like (and wow did I miss them…I mean him)!
Before children, I remember feeling starved from never being ‘touched’ throughout a deployment. I longed for a simple hug or physical connection that reminded me I was more than a job-commuting and gym-frequenting being. It got to the point that I wouldn’t mind if my ‘personal space’ was comfortably invaded in crowds because I felt that if no one shook my hand or accidentally bumped into me I could seriously pass the entire deployment without ever having physical contact. (Considering the physical beings that guys are, no wonder our husbands grope each other ‘comically’ and wrestle around to “burn energy”).
Beyond the physical absence, I miss my husband’s daily encouragement and support most. After the kids go to sleep we would eat dinner together and rehash the day. Between recounting the number of temper tantrums abated by distraction and furniture claimed as their own personal Mt. Everest, he would always smile and shake his head in relief that his job was the less stressful one of flying and being shot at!
I have always viewed marriage as having someone bear witness to my life. It is not a means to validate me or give me meaning- but someone to share in the joys and take over where I leave off when times are tough. Though I have three young children, I’m still relatively new to this role as mom. I have embraced the fulfillment children bring as well as the challenges. However, I still struggle with this new identity as my kids’ mom rather than Christi Crovato the once informed and engaging (or so I’d like to think) girl on all things political. These days I need more encouragement regarding my parenting skills than I need help with the lawn (though that would be nice too). I think we can all agree that email and the phone just don’t cut it. The authenticity of encouragement seems to be lacking when words have to be generic enough to blanket and appease all the nuances your hormonal and realistic emotions entail. I want him to tell me I’m doing a great job as a mom and believe him. Because honestly, when heard from a distance, it feels like a film critic giving two thumbs up for a movie he has not seen.
Whatever your current challenge is, we look to our husbands to weigh in and respond with insight. I don’t hold my breath for any earth shattering epiphanies from Devin-but his physical presence often is enough to provide me with the comfort and support I seek. As much as I may feel that I need him, I realize that he is the one missing out the most: Declan’s mischievous grins and bear hugs, Emeline’s mountaineering skills and pick-me-up arms and Mary Kate’s big fat dimples.
Now that most of us have established new networks of support, let’s remember to be that source of counsel and comfort for others. Let’s be the one who rallies and heartens those around her whether you think they need it or not-because in all honesty we always need encouragement, especially when our husbands are missing in action.
The author lives in Oceanside, CA with her three small children. Her husband is a Marine Corps helicopter pilot currently on his 5th deployment.