The One Thing…

Before Hubs deployed, I thought the one thing I wouldn’t be able to function without in my day was him.  That’s an obvious no-brainer, right?  But after the deafening cone of silence dissipated after the first week or two, I began to consider the opportunity the ARNG had presented me with. 

Could it be possible? 

By removing my ‘one thing’ from my life for a time, I now had the chance to select something new to put on that list…

At first, the obvious go-to on that list was the children.  My little blonde-haired, five-year-old cherub and my tiny red-haired, one-year-old who were both full of life and energy.  They laughed and hugged and sang and planted sticky kisses on my cheeks.  Sometimes, my oldest would even insist on sleeping in my bed so I wouldn’t have to be alone at night. 

Just when I began to think my ‘one thing’ problem had been solved, I realized I might need a little break from my new ‘one thing.’  Laughing is only a decibel level or two away from shrieking.  Hugging is only a hair’s breath away from losing one’s balance and throwing a sibling unceremoniously to the ground.  Singing can strangely turn into taunting and sticky kisses are routinely accompanied by sticky hands…which can do a number on Mommy’s work clothes and hair.  And, the oldest’s ‘slumber parties’ rarely ended without an elbow to the ribs, feet under my nose or slobber all over my pillow.  I am not (very) ashamed to now admit that there were mornings when I actually didn’t mind going to work, especially after an extra long evening of tantruming and household chores, repeated requests for water and leaky diapers.

I determined at that point that perhaps human beings were too unpredictable to be my ‘one thing.’  Oh, sure, my husband and my children are THE list should push truly come to shove and we are talking the very real ‘one thing.’  But, for the purpose of deployment, I wanted something I could count on to hang by me and without fail to deliver on demand.  The obvious choice?  Cell phone and internet technology…perfect!  It didn’t take long, however, and you know how the story goes…disappointment.  It was nearly a one-sided relationship.  I gave and gave and gave…carrying my phone everywhere without fail, remaining ‘plugged in’ 24/7 and nearly breaking bones racing to my desk when I heard an IM tone on my desktop.  All that effort for so little return.  Let’s face it, no matter how much contact you have via phone or the internet, it isn’t enough.

Finally, I turned to coffee.  I think we all know what too much of a good thing ends in — yes, heartburn and jitters and even more difficulty sleeping…like I needed help with any of those things!

Then, before I knew it, Hubs returned and I realized what I probably knew all along…my list of ‘one things’ works much better as an entire list.  Without the one things balancing each other out, things sometimes get out of whack.

Even though we know having all our ‘one things’ is a good place to be, what is your ‘one thing’ when having them all isn’t possible?  Have you found something that has filled a gap for you?  Share in comments!

About the Author

Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at and maintains her individual blog at

  • I also find a list of various “one things” that I want to focus on while husband is gone. My blog, hanging out more with friends, scrapbooking, reading my pile of books, etc. But the only “one thing” that has proven to sustain me through the time while husband is gone is my relationship with Jesus. He is the only “one thing” that doesn’t dissolve into a pile of rubble like the others. He is the only thing that I can count on to carry me through when I have no energy left to carry myself. I’m still not perfect at always looking to him first, yet he still is the one thing waiting for me at the end of the day.

  • Heather

    For me, Its my hidden bag of Yorks in the freezer…. Its a treat I don’t get when hubby is home, and if its far enough back, the kiddies don’t see them. Its the perfect late night snack on those awful days… and hey, its a naturally low fat food! tehe.

  • Tracie (Navy wife)

    I have two dogs and honestly, that companionship makes this deployment more bearable. It doesn’t replace anything but knowing I have two 90 pound labs to come home to with tails wagging and puppy kisses can wipe away a lot of the badness. Without the dogs, the silence would be too much I think.

  • Wiese

    Once I was able to define my state, which was emptiness, then I was able to solve it. I did the empty glass thing and filled it with things to keep me busy. I like my husband, grown into our friendship and can’t imagine life without him, but it happens. I’m myself and believe in finding what makes me awesome and powerful. I’m awesome and powerful and stand tall. I don’t like deployment, but will weather it with my grace. Each and everyone one of you is awesome and powerful. Enjoy your time finding what makes you you!!

  • I have learned that the only thing for me is Jesus. If I did not have Him and my church family this go around I would have probly lost my mind already. I also read alotof books when Hubby is deployed and workout everyday. Those are the only constants I have to keep me going.
    I think I am going to add pampering myself this time around a little more often to the list. After dealing with 5 Kiddos all day I need some me time. Plus starting school this fall will add some extra stress to my life but it is a good stress.

  • The one thing for me is focusing on keeping our family unit strong. That has many aspects to it of course. So the main thing about that was for me to take care of me. I had to get myself in emotional balance, then I could work on the rest of the stuff. The emotional stuff is a constant struggle, even though I am light years ahead of where I was.
    About 7 months ago (not too long after my husband touched down in Iraq, but nearly 9 months after he left home), I bought myself a right hand ring as a promise to take care of myself. If I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of my family.
    While much of our culture baggage would claim that focusing on me is a little more self-centered than normal, it has worked wonders for our marriage, our house, our finances, our doggies and kitty, and my self-esteem (yep, I learned to say “No”). So the true on thing has been me, finding me.

  • Sarah

    Knitting. It keeps me sane.

  • I skip around from that “one” thing, too. Little projects like hanging curtains, blogging, watching movies, getting hooked on Lost, etc. I like what Butterfly wife said – if I don’t take care of me, who will…

  • My kids. Everyday I try to make time to do something fun with them, even it’s just blowing bubbles outside. It brightens my mood every time.

  • I didn’t have kids when my husband was deployed. My own family, my husband’s family, my church family, my martial arts family, and my best girlfriends kept me sane.
    I joined a choir, took up martial arts, played a lot of Halo 2 with my brother and his friends, and started working with the young adults at church. I also babysat my nieces a lot.
    My favorite thing, though, was writing letters to my hubby. I didn’t receive as many from him as I would have liked, but that’s the way it goes. However, our written correspondence was one thing that kept me sane among the many other things that kept me busy between letters. :)

  • You know I’ve just found this site today and it’s so nice to be able to feel like I am no longer alone in my feelings. I’m an ARNG wife and we have no post to go to or neighbors with deployed hubby’s who understand. We have tons of friends and family who try but it isn’t the same. I read your post Guard Wife and I have to tell you that I feel like I’ve written it myself. I’ve been finding myself in the morning hours glued to the chair behind my computer just praying that his screen name pops online and carrying this stupid cell phone as if it were another limb for the past 7 months. I doubt that this will get any easier over the remaining 9 months of his deployment but just knowing that you ladies are out there walking in my shoes and understand is a comfort. If for no other reason that to know that I now have a place I can come to and vent about this suckie deployment stuff!

  • phyllis

    Hello, Karen I too am a ARNG this is his second tour and I know exactly what you mean. Last time he went the kids and I took a movement/music class. I think I am tone deaf. But It got us all out of the house every sunday. I was lucky even though they deployed 3 hours away their were 7 ARNG wives that banded together and it helped. This time they deployed closer to home but I didn’t meet any wives. It is a little harder. My husband hasn’t even left for Irac yet but I still listen to the news trying to figure out how it is. It seems worse than it was 2 years ago. I still need to find some class for the kids and I to go to or we will sit home and do nothing. I planned a trip to Hawaii with the kids this year without hubby to make sure we had a vacation. He is ok with this. Just find some project or class to get you out of the house and away from the computer.

  • Wiese

    2nd post:
    love the ring idea and vacation. Congrats to all you wonderful ladies for waking up everyday during deployment and taking it on with vigor. take the high road and don’t be one of those awful stories. what keeps me sane is starting dinner around 4:30pm, eating and hanging out on the trail or park until it’s time to come home. can’t stand sitting in the house until it’s kids bedtime.
    another day goes by….

  • LAW

    Karen. as a Guard wife, let me say hi. IF you can, get a a schedule of IMing, or Emails, that keeps you from waiting and being glued to the computer. Ha… I should talk. I live on this thing, talking to fellow wives.

  • You guys are doing GREAT!! This is a wonderful list. Karen, I’m so glad you found us!
    And, YES, I wrote letters like a mad woman & always picked up cards when I thought they were appropriate (or they were on sale!).
    I had such a caring group of co-workers while Hubs was gone…church members are good for that too.
    Keep the ideas coming!!

  • Michelle and Reasa that is so well said about having Christ in your life. Nothing else will fill that void, but when HE does everything else will fall into place. Before I was a Chap’s wife, my husband and I pastored a church in California right across the street from a Navy base. When several of ‘our’ guys deployed–I wanted to do something for the wives. Our church didn’t have anything in place yet, but we wanted to do anything we could. I started asking every spouse what would help them get through the deployement easier. Some wanted to meet and hang out, so we started a group that met every week at my house for a girls night in. Sometimes we had a ‘cooking class'(some wanted to learn how to cook), bible study, movies, and just talked. Ladies that didn’t know each other before became close friends, checking on each other, calling, praying with, shopping with, etc…One friend was very pregnant, and 1 of us was at every dr. appt, helped her lift her dog food, until her husband got home. It was an awesome 6 months of life! Since then, there is now a bible study with a couple of Chaplain’s wives leading, a home group on base, etc…If you have a home church already (or are looking for one), and they don’t have anything set up for military-PLEASE go to the leadership and ask about it, offer suggestions, help,etc. As pastors we were open to anything, we just needed some ideas of how to help and get started.

  • Jennifer

    When my husband deploys, I break out my stash of all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have a Buffy-fest. It’s great!!

  • Welcome Karen from another Guard wife. Hang in there. Once you find your routine you will be okay. I am still glued to the computer or my ear is tuned to the cell to ring 24 hours a day. I have been getting out more when I know Hubby is transit but once we have set times I plan my life around that.
    ArmyChaplin’s Wife I don’t live close to the unit my Hubby is deployed with. Our church family has stepped up and opened their arms, lives and hearts to us. I am going to be able to take more me days and the Kiddos will be able to get away from me more often than the first deployment. For that I am thankful.

  • Just Snow

    HI KAREN!! Another ARNG wife at this end of this indefinably lengthed wire. I have kids that keep me wonderfully(?) busy and although it is hubby with the green thumb and NOT me, I decided to plant our summer vegetable garden anyway. Give it two to three weeks and that will occupy all my “extra” time. But honestly ~ whenever I am having an ‘off’ day, I just come here and it usually makes me feel much better! Hang in there!
    I think that should be our motto/mantra: HANG IN THERE! :0D

  • You guys are wonderful!! Where hubby is at he has no set schedule. He’s in Afghanistan and for the most part it’s in the mornings that he’s able to get online. So I drop off my kids, stop and get my McD’s coffee and head home to wait on him. Sometimes he’s able to get on around 9:30am and others it take a little longer. For fear of missing him I glue myself to the chair for the long haul lol. It’s the days he’s had to go out on missions and I’m not aware that are my problem. Most times I get advance notice so I’m not stuck waiting but sometimes I have no clue. SO I wait and wait and wait and then finally give up and feel drained! It’s horrible. For the most part I am very active with my kids. They’ve started karate while daddy is gone because it keeps them very active and fit. I have taken up blogging on myspace because I just gotta get it out sometimes. I had planned a vacation with the kiddie’s to Gatlinburg TN which is 5 hours south of where I live and I was sooo excited to be taking the kids. It was our 1st vacation without daddy so that was kinda strange but I was excited to be getting away from the house. It didn’t work out so well lol. I broke my foot the 1st morning I was there and then had to spend my last day driving home with some awful stomache virus. I refer to this trip as the vacation from Hell lol. But I’m still surviving and the foot is on the mend. I’m looking at it like it’s blessing cause now I don’t have to cut the grass lol. But now when I sit and wait for him I come here and read these great postings. Some make me laugh and some make me cry but they all make me feel like I belong somewhere now so I THANK YOU ALL!!!

  • deirdre

    One thing??? No… I have so many things on my plate so many balls in the air , being two people is hard!!! But I have to say after the dust cleared the first few months after hubby was deployed.I have many things. Last night I made sunday afternoon marguritas for my neighborhood girlfriends.While we watched our kiddies jump on the new trampoline I put together all by myself
    Somthing sadly I never would have took the time for if I didn’t have that big sunday afternoon hole in my life.
    Theres so much to fill me up my children, training my dogs. Home improvement projects. I take my time as I need it for my sanity,we all find a balance sooner or later. Roger that gf’s…..

  • LMS1092

    WOW!!!!! This post has helped me feel so much better! As a NG wife, with an about to be deployed hubby, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone as I thought – Thank God for Blogging, as the NG can be so isolating. Don’t know what I’ll do with the kids this summer – perhaps try to go someplace new that doesn’t have any ‘Daddy History’ and perhaps that will make it easier – All of you are amazing!

  • SAW

    just a little helpful hint…try setting up your aim so that it will go to your cell phone if you arent on. its reallly easy to do…and if you have text messaging on your phone it doesnt cost anything extra because it just puts it through to your phone as a text…that way you can be free to go on about your business in the house (keeping your phone on you) and when u get a message either go log onto the computer or respond back directly from your phone!