Enjoying life with family during deployment

By: Christina Etchberger

Be the change agent. Every day I think of these words my aunt said to me. It reminds me of who I need to be for myself and the military community, but most importantly for my sons.

During my husband’s first deployment, my family took me to Disney! It was my oldest son’s first time experiencing all of the excitement in such a magical world. My world had drastically changed, when my husband told me he was going to deploy. Deployment? I knew it was a thing, but I didn’t know it would come so soon. If you have ever had a spouse deploy, you know how it goes. So much unpredictability.

Before his very first deployment, he went from not deploying to deploying within months. We had time to prepare, but I wasn’t used to plans not being on my Google Calendar, with an event title, date, and time. When I was full-time middle school science teacher, my former colleagues could tell you, I loved my Google agenda ready to go for each and every class period. It gave me structure, control, and even the students loved knowing what was next. I even had each learning objective and activity down to the minute. It was glorious.

When I was walking with my aunt, and her amazing family of change agents, her words had such an impact. How can I make any changes, while living in such a unpredictable military world? I first, changed my attitude. Secondly, I started joining more clubs for spouses and participated in playgroups on post. I even met a Marine wife on a local Mommy and Me page, who got me through the ups and downs of deployment, with her son who is about my oldest son’s age. My change in attitude led me to more friends, because I made it happen.

No more counting down.

I turned off that notorious countdown app that told me how many days left until he came home. The time was a bit unscheduled and not always on my Google Calendar, except maybe a few local Facebook events, but it was a time I would never forget.

I created my OWN happiness, which then lead me to seeing time in a different way. Not always predictable, but I now use whatever kind of time I have to participate at Army Community Service events, volunteer with USO, join and participate in the spouse’s club, and enjoy each and every moment. Don’t think I don’t still use my Google Calendar. I do. My passion for teaching is still a part of my everyday life. I now am homeschooling my little preschooler, and no surprise there, he even has a calendar. We need structure somewhere.

I write you this today, to remind you that you can spark change. You just have to know who you are, and what you want to be. My aunt changed my life. I hope to change others lives too. Even if it is only a few; I did my job. You might never know what you have done to change a person’s life, especially along your military journey.

Be the change agent, because somebody has to! Why not you?

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