The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


September 04, 2009

Name: Air Force Wife
Posting date: 9/4/09
Spouse: Preparing to deploy
Milblog: Spousebuzz

It started out innocently enough -- the two younger Air Force kids and I went to a local homeschooling conference. We had to sign up Daughter #2 for next year at our homeschool academy of choice.

We did a bit of "window" shopping, bought some books, and meandered our way over to the Academy table to sign up.  I grabbed an application form, started filling it out, and was confronted by this:

Mother:     (resides in home/resides separately from child)
Father:      (resides in home/resides separately from child)

Whose definition are we using here?

When it comes to school forms, these questions are not just academic nosy-neighbor inquiries. Schools need to know what the child's home situation is so that they can appropriately deal with issues that come up during the year. My phone number is on the emergency call list  -- but the number for my husband is glaringly blank.

Because he won't be home.  And quite frankly, I'm not sure the school would do anything with an international number, even if I knew the International Country Code Prefix for Afghanistan or Iraq or any of the other lovely and exotic locales my husband ends up hanging around in.

Quite irrationally, I ended up angry at the school over this.  How dare they ask me a question like that? It's just not their business, those [insert rude name-calling here].  Of course my husband "resides" with us!  He just isn't going to be "living" with us for a year or so.  Well, plus those months he doesn't "live" with us while he's training.  Or while he's TDY.  Or whatever.

But he damn well does reside with us!  So that's a stupid question!

Except that it's not a stupid question. And I wasn't being totally honest with myself or fair to the school, or even being fair to my daughter who will more than likely have an issue of some sort and varying severity arise relating to the fact that her Dad is either (a) in a war zone, (b) coming home for a visit from a war zone in which case there will be no school work done and I won't make any excuses for it, either, or (c) Mom is single parenting because Dad is residing at home, but not living at home and something came up. These issues happen, and the school needs to know what to expect.

But I did not want to be confronted with this issue right now. I also didn't want to phrase it just that way, either. Somehow it seems easier for me to skirt around the fact and just not mention that my husband's primary abode will be not with us. He'll have a different mailing address, a different phone number, and no we're not divorced/maritally separated/or on non-speaking terms. This is still his house.

He just won't live here.

And I wasn't ready for someone to (unsuspectingly) remind me of that little fact right now.


Next to the question, write in bold letters: "He is busy fighting for your freedom right now."

And, thanks to each of you for your sacrafice. Your nation is grateful, if sometimes ignorant.


I am sorry for your struggle. My mom had similar issues when my Father was involved in Korea and Viet Nam. It frustrates me to know end that people treat the military different. It's unfortunate. They are in some foreign country to defend this great country. I hope you are able to find a better school.

calling from usa to afghaniistan
011 + 93
calling from use to iraq
011 + 964

I would just like to say, I grew up with a father who was a British military officer and was often away for months at a time, both on training and active service. When the IRA was active things were closer to home - we used to check under the car for bombs before leaving on the school run. (One place we were based had been bombed a year before we moved there, killing 11, and I knew that.) I never had issues with any of this. I think there are two reasons for that:

- I was quite young at the time, so my understanding of the dangers was limited.
- my parents never passed any of their fears on to me. I knew their were bad people who could hurt us or my dad, but I had the usual 'it will never happen to me' sureness about things.

I don't know how old your children are, but please don't worry too much. They are probably tougher than you think. I'm sure you have enough love for them while your husband is away, and they will cherish whatever contact is available. I still remember some of the pictures my dad drew in his letters, of whales he'd seen from his ship, or how to pull soldiers on skis behind a snow vehicle :-)

Many of the mundane details of your daily life will hurt because of the glaring absence of your deployed spouse. You have not been abandoned, he will return home to be with the family when he can. In the meantime you will carry on and your children will grow, and drain you sometimes and feed your soul other times. Thank you for your post and please keep on writing.

Your post is both heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time. Firstly, I cannot imagine being a military wife. I admire you for the strength to contiue living your life even though your husband isn't there. Secondly, I feel like there should be more stories like yours--yes, there are wonderful people fighting for our country, and yet there are tons of people suffering at home because of the absence this creates.

This is definitely one bad aspect of the war in Iraq. I understand your anger at the school and honestly, I do not know why it matters as long as they know his name. I agree with Phil that a good reply would be "he is fighting for your freedom." I am in total agreement with you about he still resides with you, but he is only living elsewhere temporarily.

Wow.. schools need to word things better or give more options! I am sorry for your frustration.

You are always reminded to be thankful for the soldiers fighting for your freedom, but people often forget to mention the loved ones that they are leaving behind. I am thankful for what your husband is doing and I am thankful for you, your family, and your friends for backing him up.

Too often we forget that it is not possible for military families to live normal lives like the rest of us. We realize that these men and women sacrifice for our safety, but more often than not we forget that their families sacrifice as well. We forget that these soldiers are not just a set of boots and a gun. Rather they are real people with real families with real lives. I hope people will continue to not only remember the soldiers, but the families behind each individual as well.

It is incredibly how senseless some people can be. I bet they felt pretty stupid to hear the response. It seems to me the question is personal enough not to be shared. But when the answer makes the person asking the question realize that the only way they are free to ask questions is because an absent father/husband is fighting for their freedom, I'm positive the stupid feeling sets in. People should learn to think before they ask.

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