Reflections on Todd & Peggy Podcast #1
By Ellie McCann, Extension Educator
The audio recording below is the first part of a conversation with Todd, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, and his wife Peggy, an elementary school teacher. Peggy and Todd generously shared some of their experiences as a military family, to help those of us serving military families have a better understanding of what they go through. Below the recording you’ll find a blog post reflecting on this part of Todd and Peggy’s story. This is part 1 – Mixed Emotions.
Both parents, Todd and Peggy, had different things to get ready before the deployment. Peggy’s preparation focus was on planning things for the family such as the details of the calendar of events to who would mow the lawn and shovel the snow. This was happening while the other parent, Todd – the service member – planned for his year away. Together, they upgraded their automobiles. Financial things were all in place and updated such as power of attorney, living will and other important documents. Peggy, who remained at home, began to feel that Todd was preparing for just one person and how unfair that was while she would be at home taking care of all the families’ responsibilities. As Peggy and Todd were doing their individual planning, they started to ‘get at each other’, which as Peggy reflects, may have been a way for them to prepare to be separated from each other. A mixture of emotions was felt by both during this preparation.
As a parent myself, I associate these feelings with the summer before I launched my oldest child. She and I were at each other constantly during that summer. We were both nervous in our own way and were trying to take care of last minute things. Parents have different things to get ready than their child and both need to wrap their heads around individual parts. It was really an odd sense of losing control as a mom that I had never felt. The stress I felt about all the things I needed to make sure were in place came out and was part of our tense moments. Looking back now, I truly feel that what we experienced that summer was some sort of way for us to both prepare for being away from each other for the first time. I was ready to move her in when the time came and she was more than ready to begin her next life chapter. A mixture of emotions was felt by both during this preparation time.
Todd and Peggy also shared that unexpected changes, like a change in deployment plans, can also add stress and create a mixture of emotions. When a family has done so much to prepare for a long deployment and orders get cancelled, one might think that there would immediately be feelings of relief. This isn’t always the case. This type of drastic change of plans can cause a mixture of emotions such as confusion, anxiety, misunderstanding, and/or worry because all of the preparation that had taken place for the family during the deployment was stripped from under them like a blanket of security they had built.
These types of events that happen prior to deployment can cause a wide range of feelings for the service member and their family. What other events may happen to military families while they are preparing for a deployment that may create a mixture of emotions? How can you as a military family service provider be prepared to support families during these times?
Ellie McCann is a member of the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions team and an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota, Extension Center for Family Development. Ellie is also the parent of three adult daughters.