Monday, September 28, 2009

Because I might've been a bit harsh ...

I've written a post before about what you should and should never say to a military spouse or family member. One that bothers me to no end is when someone asks how long Adam is going to be gone, and their response is "Oh, that's not bad."

I decided to take matters into my own hands when someone says this to me, if only to educate them so they don't say it the absolute wrong person next time. Well, I got to use it last week.

I was showing a dad at football practice my Kindle, kindly explaining what it was and how much I loved it, yada yada yada. He's the dad of one of Addison's friends, so I was being nice. My friends always ask how Adam's doing, and he did too, and then said THOSE words, "How long is he gone for?"

I gave him a general timeframe (OPSEC, yo, I'm down with it) and he said the words...and I let loose. I wasn't rude, but here's a rundown of how it went (and this was after I restrained myself from launching myself at him, because I really wanted to wrap my hands around his neck and shake him like I was a British nanny):

Him: "Oh, that's not bad."
Me: "It is to me." At this point, he looked like the words "oh shit" shot through his brain.
Me: "He works all the time over there. His unit is rarely idle in that time period. They are constantly busy, always putting their lives on the line. He's not sitting over there counting bullets."

He smartly shut his mouth after that.

Here's what bothers me the most, though. No one would have the balls to say this to a child going through the same thing. If an adult ever said that to Addison, I would have no problem kicking their ass. Addison is a smart kid, but he doesn't understand why his father has to miss all his football games, school stuff, holidays, etc.

So why do people deem it okay to say to a wife, husband, brother, mother, etc?

I don't regret making him feel uncomfortable. Maybe he didn't deserve it, maybe he is now better educated because of my little verbal diarrhea tirade.

Here's a suggestion to anyone who may speak to anyone dealing with deployment - ask them how they are doing. Tell them you will keep their loved one in your thoughts and prayers (if you're a praying sort). Wish them a safe return for their loved one.


Peeved Michelle said...

I don't know how long your husband is going to be gone, but when non-military people think of deployments now, I think they think of people being gone 1 yr or more at a time, so it if it is a deployment of a few months, I can understand why their first thought might be, "That not so bad." I don't think they mean it the way you are taking it, not that it isn't still an insensitive thing to say.

Amber said...

I am so with you! I don't know how many times I have wanted to reply with "really? you wouldn't mind your spouse dodging bullets for that period of time?"

Erin said...

I totally understand what you're saying, Michelle. I guess it just gets tiresome, seeing as this is our seventh time, having to explain exactly what he does. I have no problem explaining the hazards his job presents to him and others on a daily basis.

It's not bad, and it could always be worse. It's bad to me in the sense that my heart breaks for Addison. He's intuitive, but also doesn't understand everything. It's hard to try to explain a lot of what he does to him without scaring the bejesus out of him.

I thank my lucky stars every day that he is alive and well. Not everyone else can say that, and my heart hurts for them. I'm appreciative of what I have.

My mom explained to me that people who don't know about the military often get uncomfortable talking about such things. I understand that too. And that their first reaction is to say that it isn't that bad. I do understand, but sometimes it's not the easiest thing to hear.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine saying something like "that's not so bad"..., how in the hell can that be "not so bad"! It makes me want to cry every time I hear someone is deployed. My heart hurts for everyone of them and the people they love.

My Vacation Bible School classes last year made these goofy little stuffed bears out of flag patterned fleece (but they could only be glued together b/c these are all little kids) and we wrote letters & pictures & put little pictures of the child who made them in a special pocket--the children also made a matching bear for themselves so that everytime they prayed with the bear they were praying for the person who received them & the accompanying note explained that to the recipient. I hope that the people who got them understood what we were trying to say..., I guess I worry that the soldiers might think they were dorky or just an "assignment". They were something I dreamed up b/c I feel so bad that our people are lonely & probably scared (I would be!!!) My kids were thrilled to do them.

Tammy said...

Go Erin!!!! I love your response!!