Well I survived my first time being back to sea. I took Dramamine the first day because I didn’t know what to expect. Aircraft carriers are like the Cadillac’s of the sea and with the exception of a few days of rough weather I really didn’t notice that we were at sea. This is in comparison to a smaller ship like a destroyer or oiler. On smaller ships, I didn’t really ever get sea sick but the first day underway, I would always have a monster headache. When we encountered heavy seas, well forget about it (in my fake Italian voice). I would have to take plenty of Tylenol or Motrin because my head would always feel like it was going to explode.
I managed to keep myself busy enough that all I had time to do was eat, sleep, work, and sleep some more. This was the first time I had ever went underway as a First Class Petty Officer and my work load consisted mainly of me doing my real job. The last time I was underway, I worked all the time because I was junior person and the junior people always have all busy work tasks. On one hand, I missed it because I knew so much about the ship and I knew everybody so it was fun. The idea of humping 50 pound milk containers all day, standing a low visability watch in the middle of the night or pulping trash after a long day at work helped me remember that seniority definitely has its perks.
Sleep wasn’t easy because they forgot to mention that the sound of aircraft taking off and landing all night in my brochure (that’s sarcasm…just in case you didn’t get it). Cookies, Mountain Dew, Newports, chips, candy, (any that I could get my hands on) and ramen noodles were my diet of choice. I wish that I could say that I ate all my meals on the mess decks but I didn’t. I can only stomach so much and the look of the food didn’t appeal to me. I really am a visual person.
What shocked me the most is that I didn’t really think too much about the kids while I was away! I really thought that at some point I would be sad and that maybe it would affect my mood in a negative way. Oddly enough, the person that I did think about the most was my husband. He was on my mind quite a bit last week. We generally as a people, take advantage or don’t appreciate the simple things in life sometimes. My significant other has a way of pushing my buttons and on my last nerve on a regular basis. What I learned this week is that most of my frustration comes from my trying to get him to do what I want all the time.
I’m a creature of habit. I like things done a certain way. I like the dishes washed a certain way. I want to the towels folded my way. What I didn’t realize is that he always (mostly) does what I ask him to do and he attempts to do it the way I want it done. His way of going about things is different from me and he of course, moves at a snails pace BUT he gets it done.
Maybe that’s why I thought about him so much. I was too busy seeing him through renewed eyes. I was very eager to get back home to him. I honestly, missed him a lot more than I imagined me missing him. I guess absence does make a heart grow fonder.
My last observation and probably the most important one is that I don’t have to feel guilty for leaving my family. My kids had gotten used to the idea of me doing a little too much for them. Even my youngest child appeared to be doing a little bit more for him self than he was a week ago. I have learned that it’s okay to be away from my kids for short periods of time. I am not saying that I would be thrilled to be gone a month, two months, or even for a deployment. All I am saying is that I have let my whole life get wrapped up in the kids and I have forgotten to live a little myself. My life lesson is that I can’t or shouldn’t be a helicopter parent. Moms and dads go out of town for a week or two all the time. I don’t have to feel guilty for doing my job. This may just be the euphoric feeling at the moment so don’t take that last sentence as my word.