Success in any operation is 1/4 luck, and ¾ precise planning. After my utter failures the last three deployments I decided to come into this one with a plan. Sure random shit can, does, and will happen, but it’s better to have a plan and some obtainable goals rather than going into a situation half cocked. I learned this in my 4-¾ years of military service. Though the military prepared me to lead a troop of 30-100 men into battle, it did not give me the coping skills to handle two young children. So the first part of my preparation for the impending deployment was come up with a plan and most importantly goals.
Goal #1: I want my house at a minimum safe for human occupancy, and at a maximum, presentable enough that I would not be embarrassed if friends stopped by for a short visit.
Goal #2: I want to accomplish something that would make my husband feel good about leaving. The past failures (aka deployments), I strived for bare minimum status quo. Most of my time was spent in front of the television, eating shitty frozen meals, and doing the bare minimum to sustain a household. To prevent this abysmal failure, I came up with weekly and monthly projects. I made a daily checklist, and added one thing to each checklist that would enable me to finish a project.
Goal #3: I want to maintain or increase my fitness level. Right now, I can run a 4:05 marathon. I am a weight that I could live with if absolutely necessary, and I am pretty happy with my personal appearance. I wanted to maintain the status quo. Ideally, I would like to increase fitness. Adding Cross Fit has certainly helped with that, and I have aspired to new fitness goals that are not marathon related. For example, one of my goals is to do a pull-up. A pull-up is something I have never, ever been able to do. I accomplished one goal before he left of being able to “pass” my old PFT from ROTC, and I can definitely pass the new Air Force physical fitness standards, but I would really love to be able to do a pull up.
Goal #4: I want to step outside of my social comfort zone. The last three deployments, I was always afraid to ask of anything. I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to be “that wife,” who sucked the life-blood out of people. Now, the way I figure it, I have done a lot for the community, especially the autism community, I think it’s my turn to ask for help, even if it’s just a little bit of help.
Goal #5: I want my children to not miss their dad; as much as they would if I was the non-functioning person I before. I want to have fun with my children. I don’t want them to be a burden. I want to be less self-absorbed. I want to break the myth that people with autism and ADHD are these spoiled, selfish brats, lacking any ounce of empathy.
Goal #6: I want to keep this book as a beacon of light for other spouses. So many times we are told what we cannot do, what is not possible, that we are weak and need to rely on forces outside ourselves to get through a deployment. I want to prove that if a 38-year-old woman with Aspergers can manage two children, one with autism and the other, a plain old loud-mouthed pain in the ass; and I can come out on top, that other military spouses can see this, and realize that the road is difficult, but not unattainable. That no matter what obstacles you are facing, you can do it.
Goal #7: I want to do something for myself. Even if it’s just quietly, I have a plan to do something for myself every week. Buying an article of clothing, accomplishing a task, fixing some thing, improving the house, or attending a fitness class. I want to be able to say that in the X months that my husband was gone, I did something for myself.
Goal #8: I don’t want to become complacent in accomplishing my goals. I don’t want to return to the person I was the last three deployments, when I sat on my fat ass, ate bons-bons and pined away waiting for my husband to return. Namely, goal #8 is I want to continual to live. Living does not require a husband, a family, or anything else to continue to happen. I want to experience things, rather than sit on my couch and wait away XXX number of days.
After I made up my mind about the goals I wanted to accomplish, and this wasn’t done in one day. I came up with a plan. My plan was simple. I made a list of things that I had to accomplish every single day during the deployment. It was a simple list—starting with getting up in the morning, looking myself in the mirror, and saying, “Jodi, you got this.” Then going to eat breakfast. I used Power Point, but anyone could use any program that meets their needs, I made a schedule for each day, and a checklist. For example, today:
6:00 AM: Wake Up
6:10 AM: Watch the News and Eat Breakfast
6:45 AM: Wake up the kids
7:00 AM: Feed them breakfast
7:45 AM: Jane gets on the bus
8:10 AM: Drive to doctor’s appointment
9:30 AM: Drop Johnny off at school
11:00 AM: Fitness class
12:00 PM: Lunch
12:30 PM: Go to Lowe’s and buy paint for project #1
1:00 PM: Watch Judge Judy (because I need to be reminded how blessed I am that I’m not a white trash piece of shit drug addict)
2:10 PM: Pick up Johnny from school
3:10 PM: Pick up Jane from the bus stop
3:30 PM: Feed kids snack and work an hour on Project #1
4:30 PM: Start fixing dinner
5:00 PM: Dinnertime
6:00 PM: Homework/housework
7:00 PM: Drug Johnny for bed and start bedtime routine
8:00 PM: Kid bedtime
10:00 PM: Jodi Bedtime
– Confirm babysitting for Saturday morning for Paddle Board Race
– Confirm that the neighbor will take Jane to bus stop on Tuesday and Friday for Autism conference and Johnny’s surgery
– Pick up painting supplies at Lowe’s
– It’s the first of the month, make the co-payment for autism therapy
– Water the plants, pick up the dog poop, and take the dogs for a walk
I made a similar schedule and checklist for every single day for the entire month. Once I accomplish all the extra tasks for the month, I will start on the next month. Besides the mundane every month, every day, and every week reminders; I always add at least one additional task above and beyond my normal tasks. That way I feel as if I’m accomplishing something besides sitting on my ass and watching the Steve Harvey Show.