After 17 years of military life, seven deployments, and countless trainings, schools, or work-ups, I have seen quite a few strange things go wrong. With the house, the car, the children, and sometimes all of the above. Simultaneously. There are plenty of times you will want to cry or throw in the towel. But that doesn’t stop the curse one bit. Because Murphy doesn’t care about your tears, apparently. S**t is gonna happen, and we just have to accept that and handle each crazy situation as best we can. Call the landlord or Housing Office, call a plumber, break out the sanitizing cleaners, and then…
Have a glass of wine and a good laugh! The way I see it, there is only one way to beat the deployment curse. Laugh.
Sometimes that is really all you can do. I mean, how did that thing even break? It shouldn’t be possible. Yet here it is, broken. Screaming won’t fix it. So just laugh as much as you can, and chalk it up as a great story to tell one day. Keep a brag wall or an accomplishment list of all the things you have had to fix or deal with during the deployment. And make sure you have a good tool box and emergency prep kit.
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Too soon? Then here, perhaps you would like to laugh at some of my ridiculous experiences. This list is not remotely comprehensive. It’s just a crazy list of things that have gone wrong– only when the spouse was deployed. Of course. So go ahead and laugh at some of my trials!
Ways the Deployment Curse has hit me:
- The baby’s hand got caught in the car door, and I rushed to the emergency room, thinking it was crushed. Amazingly, it was only a bad bruise.
- The battery died and the car wouldn’t start in the middle of a Halloween Trunk-or-Treat parking lot. Someone poured Coke on it to get rid of the corrosion. FYI, you are NOT supposed to do that! (Someone else gave me a jump with jumper cables.)
- The car radio started turning on and off. By itself. And we were in Spain, so all the stations were in Spanish. It turned out to be a battery connection problem, which I learned from the THIRD person who looked at it. So I had a seemingly possessed Spanish radio for a few weeks!
- The minivan automatic door motor stopped working, and would cost over $1,000 to replace. I had a neighbor remove it and just used it manually forever after. Because we had already replaced the other automatic door drive the year before.
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- The oven broiler exploded and caught on fire. I did not know that was possible, but I learned how to order the right replacement part and install it!
- The microwave also exploded and had to be replaced. (No, I did not put metal in it!)
- The vacuum beater bar also exploded, the day before he returned home from deployment. So much for a clean house!
- The gas fireplace tank needed to be replaced. I took the empty tank to the gas station, and they delivered it… to my curb! I used my kids’ red wagon to move a 100-pound gas tank around the house to the back to install it.
- The washing machine stopped working. Rental company wanted me to wait five days for a replacement. I told them I have five people living here, and one wets the bed, so the laundry can’t wait five days. They delivered it sooner.
- The Bath/Shower handle had some kind of interior malfunction, and wouldn’t turn off, even in the off position! Hot water gushed from the faucet for about one hour until the repair man arrived! (Yes, I now know that there is an off valve for the water lines.)
- The doorknob fell off the front door. For no apparent reason. I couldn’t go anywhere until it was fixed because I would have no way to lock the house. (Update, this happened twice for no reason.)
- The one time I have given birth during a deployment… there was a hurricane! The base shut down. There was a midnight tornado warning. The hospital lost power. I had to stay an extra day as a non-patient responsible for walking around with a newborn baby and getting my own food. (Please laugh at this, because it is indeed ridiculous, and I worked extra hard for that one!)
- I potty trained child #1 during a deployment. Note that NONE of the subsequent three children were trained during a deployment. Because it was horrible and there was pee everywhere. For a month!
- My toddler threw her sippy cup at the laptop screen when I was doing homework for grad school. The entire screen turned into illegible rainbows. New laptop was purchased. I used her college funds.
- Same toddler ripped the curtains and extra-long rod off the wall in the living room two minutes before bedtime. I had to figure out how to re-drill holes and hang the 12-foot rod by myself.
- Same child broke my first digital camera. Which was the only way I could send pictures to deployed Dad.
- Same child (when older) did a science experiment in the bathroom mixing water, hand soap, and toilet paper. She then dumped the pulpy mess down the drain. The drain clogged.
- Same kid drew on the wooden table. With Sharpies. The day after Dad left. Seriously. Perhaps I should re-name the deployment curse after her.
- The baby broke the iPad screen. Different child.
- The boys broke a bed. Jumped right through the plywood supporting the mattress. I fixed it with 2×4’s.
- One child woke up with an enormous lump over his eye for no reason, that swelled throughout the day until his entire eye was swollen shut! One hospital visit determined…mosquito bite.
- On one particularly gross day, baby #2 vomited on himself in the carseat. I cleaned it in a parking lot with baby wipes, drove home, and put him in the bath. He pooped in the tub! I cleaned it out and re-bathed him. Took him out and… he peed on me!
- All four of our children had a stomach bug, and were simultaneously vomiting for two days! It was horrible. (This was during the only week husband was gone that month, of course!)
- I took my kids to the beach one evening. The next day, the school nurse thought they had lice, because they were itching little white specks in their hair. So they were sent home and we had to de-louse them and their bedding. Three hours later I determined… there was no lice, just sand!
- I didn’t have a pet for most of our deployments. Any guesses why?????
I hope that your deployment goes smoother than this! But if not, and the curse won’t leave you alone, then just do your best to see the humor and laugh. Oh, and keep a handyman/plumber/car expert on speed dial.