Months Before His Ship-Out Date
Now that boot camp is over and my husband is officially a Sailor, I have some advice to offer to those of you who are still waiting for your husband to be gone for months at basic training.
As soon as he has signed a contract with the US NAVY, you may begin to feel as though your husband’s ship-out date is a death sentence. While he prepares for his Boot Camp, you should be aware that this season is about giving you some Basic Training, too. With proper preparation and hard work, he will graduate from Boot Camp and you will transform into a resilient US issued NAVY wife. I now present a crash course in Basic Training for the future NAVY wife as she prepares to send her husband off to Boot Camp. Feel free to take notes (haha).
1You are human. Feel your feelings. Try to remember that whatever emotions you are experiencing should not be ignored. If you are numb in this season I believe it will haunt you later on. Give yourself some grace. Let yourself be emotional if needed. It’s okay if you end up purchasing water proof mascara and eye drops and even have a breakdown or two at work. Most people will understand why you are acting out of character and will give you grace. The more you let yourself “feel” the easier it will be on ship-out day. You will feel more emotionally prepared if you get most of your tears out ahead of time. You need to feel your feelings so they don’t fester – you don’t want to walk around like a ticking time bomb ready to lose your emotional cool on the first person to look at you wrong.
2But you are not allowed to be a jerk. Always remember that you are responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel. Just because you are preparing for something sad or life-changing, it does not mean that you have permission to treat people disrespectfully or answer them hastily.
3You need to eat. You may begin to notice that your stomach is in knots and you are more nervous than usual which may make eating difficult. I did not notice any drastic changes in my appetite, but I remember a couple of meals where I was feeling really nervous about the approaching ship-out date, and it was hard to eat since it felt like my heart was in my stomach. When nerves crept up during dinner it was actually really helpful to talk about everything at the table with my future sailor. We were able to connect and discuss what we were both feeling. After talking it out, I usually could end up eating my supper. By then it was cold, but hey, at least I practiced what I preached in my first point.
4Pursue your beauty sleep. You may have a hard time falling and staying asleep. I personally fell victim to many sleepless nights. There were several nights where I could not fall asleep to save my life. There were some nights that I would fall asleep only to wake a couple hours later and not fall back asleep the rest of the night. This was probably the most frustrating thing I experienced. I remember going to bed one night and within minutes my husband was fast asleep and all I could do was watch him and cry silently. How could I sleep when these were some of the last nights I would have with him? All I wanted to do was look at him while I could.
When I couldn’t fall asleep, I found the greatest peace through prayer. I found that praying for our marriage was great since it kept my eyes on the bigger picture, and praying for him made me feel like he would be the best sailor in the world. Praying allows you to be honest with God about your feelings and allows you to feel your feelings (see my first point) – which will help you to not be a mega jerk the next morning because you didn’t get much sleep (see my second point).
5Establish new rules. When we first had the revelation that our time as civilians was dwindling by the weeks, we decided to set up some new rules for our home. We both had smart phones and like most Americans, they were on us or near us at all times. We decided that as soon as we walked in the door, our phones were put on silent, not vibrate (unless we were expecting an important message or call). We took care of all business before coming home so that when we were together at dinner and for the rest of the evening there were no interruptions, distractions, alerts going off, facebooking, e-mailing, or texting. This gave us quality time to focus on each other and our love.
Unless we had plans to watch a TV show or a movie, we also limited TV in the evening. Instead, we decided to read books separately next to each other and discuss what we read. This helped us to connect as well since we usually read spiritual books that helped us to reflect on our relationship with each other and with God. Those moments were some of the best times leading up to the ship-date. And reading books about God’s love is a peaceful thing to focus on before falling asleep (and believe me, you’ll want peaceful things to focus on before trying to fall asleep and stay asleep, see my fourth point).
6Have fun. I mean it. Let loose and go make memories with your future sailor! Plan out special trips, dates, and events that you can share together. Take pictures. Go on a hike, eat at a new restaurant, or go on a road trip. Remind yourself that he’s just going to Basic Training. It’s only a couple of months and you’ll be able to write to each other. It’s very romantic. You’re lucky enough to get hand written love letters. How many other women can say that? Be sure to feel your happy feelings, too. If you don’t act like a robot before he ships out, ship-out day will be A LOT easier.
7Now is the time to make sure your life will be in order once he’s away in Boot Camp. Call your husband’s recruiter and make have him make sure that you are listed in your husband’s DEERS. Start the process of obtaining a Power of Attorney. Have the form DD-1172-2 filled out and ready to go. All of those things are especially important if you NEED insurance the day he leaves for Great Lakes. Without these forms, you cannot get your military ID or get healthcare. Also, make sure you save up at least $500 because his first paycheck takes that much out to pay for his uniforms. Be sure to prepare for the NAVY to not pay you till the second military paydate while he’s in bootcamp. The NAVY will pay you for both payperiods on that day.