That's when you realize that every moment, every little thing you thought about what you'd do, how you'd be, what you'd be able to manage; it's all mostly wrong. Even if you've lived through similar things before that point.
They were close, but not quite.
The same is true of being a single parent. Before we divorced, I thought I knew what it would be like to single parent. I had been through deployments. I had fixed all the things, and kept all the peoples and pets alive. I had handled the things...all by myself, all the time.
And in some ways, I did know what to expect. I knew I would just have to do the things no matter how tired I was or how sick I was or how anything else I was. What I was completely unprepared for was how it felt to not have someone in my corner for the good and the bad. When he was deployed, he couldn’t fix the oven, but he could hear me say that the oven was dumb and I would just not eat for the next six months. When he was deployed, he could ask me if I remembered to eat during a crazy crisis. When he was deployed, he could share in the joy of first steps, and words, and laughs even though it was far away.
It is also hard to face that this is the reality. There is not relief or homecoming. It is just this. Everyday, the kids and I making it work. It is just this. There is no happy ending. There is no homecoming. There is no end. It really is just this.
So to all the single moms, you are right, the military mom doesn’t know what being a single mom is like. She has a taste. She is likely more appreciative of how hard it really is. Being mom and dad during the deployment is not being a single parent; it is close….but not quite the same.