Tom Cruise took a great deal of heat a number of months back for suggesting that wrapping his film Oblivion was like returning from Afghanistan. And oh, did the howling begin in earnest. And while I know that he was trying to suggest that filming an action epic was physically demanding and mentally taxing, you just knew he picked the wrong metaphor to characterize his challenges.
(This is NOT Tom Cruise)
But there are at least one or two Cruise movies that you've enjoyed over the years, so you let it slide just this once, because you know it will never happen again. I ask that same level of charity and indulgence here…
1) A day off? Heh, good one…
2) Your only contact with 'the world' is through the internet.
3) You spend a good part of your day cleaning up someone else's crap.
4) “Yeah I showered. Last Week.”
5) You don't get to see many of your friends for a year or more.
6) You probably don't speak the language of your 'antagonist'.
7) You will hear horrible noises in the middle of the night…ear-splitting, sanity draining noises.
8) At some point, you will ask yourself if this hell will ever end.
9) You will almost certainly never really get a good night's sleep.
10) You know damn well who's in charge, and it sure as hell ain't you.
11) IEDs: Infant Explosive Diarrhea.
12) There seems to be a whole lot of wildly unnecessary screaming, followed by an uneasy, heart-stopping period of shallow breathing and silent retreats…so you don't give your position away.
13) Hanging with your boy(s) could lead to friendly fire. Yellow, liquidy friendly fire.
14) Personal grooming includes congratulating yourself on using a Kleenex and not your shirt.
15) The use of advanced monitoring technology to determine the status of your 'target'. And when that thing lights up, it's like a shot of adrenaline.
16) You're in for a really crappy day (literally and figuratively) if you ever go outside the wire without all the right equipment.
17) Your day is divided into shifts, not day and night. And if you're on point during your shift, nobody cares if you're hallucinating from lack of sleep.
18) When you don't have the right 'equipment', the one who does often swoops in like a saving angel.
19) Your fantasy life devolves into daydreams of a current newspaper and a hot cup of coffee.
20) Sex? Yeah, I remember that.
21) Tax breaks on 'combat pay'.
22) You'll spend tireless, excruciating months trying to get someone to stand on their own.
23) Your new best friends are people you wouldn't give the time of day to a few months ago. (Such as Doc McStuffins and Bob the Builder. But those vaguely evil Teletubbies are still not allowed in my house.)
24) A good night of R&R is a lousy but uninterrupted movie.
25) As bad as it gets sometimes, you know that you might have to do this all over again…maybe two or three more times. And you couldn't be happier or more proud to do it.
(Of course, this was written (if you can call it that) in good fun, with all respect and admiration to our deployed servicemembers. War is hell; infants are not. And if this causes offense, I apologize…but plead not guilty by reason of infant induced delirium.)
Chris Field has been an Active Duty Army spouse for 8 years. He teaches University Philosophy wherever his wife's duty stations take him, and writes regularly for DC Military Family Life. Having played college football, he knows that life can and will put you on your ass. Manhood begins when you pull yourself up and pick the turf out of your facemask. He hasn't snarled “Get off my lawn!” at anyone in at least a week.