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When 'Normal' Isn't in the Cards

Marriage in the military isn’t so different from traditional civilian life—you fall in love, have babies, switch jobs, fight, laugh, cry, sleep. Except that it isn’t. Babies are born while their fathers are off fighting wars, you switch jobs more times in a decade than most people in a lifetime and there are more tears than one person should ever have to bear—between leaving and returning and all of the struggles in between. There is no plan, there is no constant and no normal.

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Our daughter—our first—was born while my husband was deployed. As we think about trying for more children, one very important piece of the puzzle has to be figured out. We’d both like him to be home for the arrival, and ideally much of my pregnancy. It seems a little easier said than done though, even as the military is in the midst of a drawdown and deployments are being scaled back.

Looking at the two of them today you’d never know; they have this amazing bond that is pure.

We talk about waiting, we talk about just trying and hoping that it all works out. We talk and talk and talk—no amount of talking will smooth away the fog and add clarity to the situation. But does it even matter? My husband is no less of a father because he wasn’t here to cut the umbilical cord or didn’t share in the diaper duty in those early days. To say that would be crazy. Looking at the two of them today you’d never know; they have this amazing bond that is pure. Their love for each other isn’t based on need like her relationship with me. It is based on the fact that she loves getting tossed in the air and getting scratchy belly smooches, and she laughs loudest when he tickles her. It is pure, and it wasn’t hampered by the first few weeks of separation.

Why does it matter now? Maybe I’m just craving a little more normal, a little more of the expected. A little more of the 9-to-5, the traditional, storybook plan. The falling in love, buying a house and settling in. It seems so picturesque, so—dare I say it—normal.

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In reality, it isn’t for us. We have a long road of unknowns ahead that will reach far beyond more babies and clouds the crystal ball for even the best fortune tellers. That doesn’t mean I don’t check out real estate listings and dream up idyllic countryside lifestyles for when that day comes; but in the meantime I’m learning to love the ride and appreciate the battles that forge great friendships and create unique work opportunities. I don’t know when more babies will come or when it will feel like the right time, but in the meantime, you’ll find me on Pinterest decorating my imaginary normal life.

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