I belong to an organization called Blue Star Mothers Of America, Inc. A dedicated group of men and women who have children who are deployed. I am Proud to be a Blue Star Mom. This flag hangs in my window- A single blue star representing my child who is currently deployed- and it will stay there until she comes back home to America.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love talking about my children and I’m lucky to have a job where I get to talk to a lot of people who are on vacation at the beach. We mostly engage in conversation that is light and fun but sometimes an opportunity presents itself to talk about my daughter’s deployment. However, no matter how big I smile or how peppy my deliverance, by the time I’m finished raving about my awesome daughter, most people still end up looking at me like this:
Apparently, the phrase “deployed to Kuwait.” seems to trigger loss of proper body mechanics. First their smile slowly slides into a tragic frown. Then I watch as their eyebrows begin to raise slightly causing concerned wrinkles to form in their forehead. Lastly, Cervical Dystonia sets in and their neck muscles fail causing a dramatic tilt in their head to one side.
Thank you Zach Galifianakis for your concern.
Now, I completely understand people wanting to express their empathy for me as a mom of a deployed soldier, but some people look at me like I just told them their dog got hit by a car.
My first reaction is always to try to make them feel at ease by saying something relatable to home like, “‘No, no, she’s doing very well. She’s in a place with a Starbucks and a Subway.” I know that sound kind of silly, but it works a lot of the time and at least brings a half-smile back to their face and makes their head stand up straight.
When I start to see a really dramatic face change, I’ll try to keep it light by telling a funny story about Janessa- like how my daughter’s idea of camping was to stay at the Marriott and not be able to order room service. 🙂 – tap, tap — hello? Is this thing on?
And other times, in the midst of saying she’s doing great and she can buy toothpaste at the PX whenever she wants, I see their eyes glaze over as they search their brain for something to say to me. I’ve dubbed this look “The Nicolas Cage Effect”.
Just a simple Thank You and a smile is fine, Mr. Cage.
Then there was the time I saw Mr. Ice Cube at Fro Yos eating a strawberry-shortcake cone. He looked up at me, mid-lick, and caught me staring with a big cheesy grin on my face. I took it as an invitation to fly across the room and start talking about everything, like- how I could recite every line from Friday, the up coming Last Friday movie, frozen yogurt, Janessa’s deployment. I was rambling a mile per minute and his expression never changed once.
Thank you for your support Mr. Cube!
He was completely interested in what I was saying, wow. When I was almost done talking, he flashed me the peace sign and I knew exactly what he was saying. That he’s very proud of my daughter and supports our troops and wishes peace for the world. Wow! Ice is Ah-maz-ing! I took the cue, turned and walked away in a daze.
I love talking about my daughter and her life. War has become a part of that life but just because a subject has a negative connotation, does not mean the person talking about it has a negative experience to share.
My 5 Reaction Factors
- Notice the expression and stance of the speaker.
- Give your undivided attention.
- Take cues from the speaker and relax your mind. You’ll begin to feel the story.
- Share your similar experiences if applicable.
- Hugs are optional.
DO THIS NOT THIS