I am so over hearing “that’s so nice for you that your husband doesn’t deploy.”
Yes, it is very nice that he does not deploy; however, that does not mean he doesn’t detach or spend countless weekends away on cross countries or TDY trainings. My husband is rarely home.
The kids and I stay so busy during the week running to and from activities that we rarely notice if Daddy is missing from home. But the weekends — those are the hardest, and we miss him the most. On the weekends when everything is winding down, all the emotions catch up and the kids just cannot contain themselves any longer.
By Sunday, I am ready to throw in the towel and pray for an easier week. I definitely do not want to make dinner. And trying to think of the 57th activity for the day is defeating. Sundays are supposed to be family days and not having the whole family together is hard.
Several months ago, while my husband was gone on a detachment, my neighbors rallied together to make me dinner and help cheer me up.
It was the best Sunday I had had in a long time.
Each of us brought a dish, and all the kids played together for several hours. It was just what I needed: good food, good friends, and exhausted kids. It was such a hit with everyone that we decided to do it again the following week and again the week after that. We have now been doing Sunday Supper (the name we gave our little group) for just over 12 weeks, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
We all agree that Sundays are meant to be family days and being stationed overseas makes spending time with our actual family impossible. We have chosen to be each other’s family instead, and at Sunday supper, we step in to care for each other and love each other’s kids like they are our own.
Our group is made up of a hodgepodge of people. Some of the family members are enlisted; some are officers. Some are parents; some are not. Some have special dietary needs; some like to overindulge. Some have spouses deployed; some spouses never leave.
My friend hit the nail on the head when describing what she loves most about our Sunday Supper: “I love Sunday Supper because it’s a place where I can be myself. With all of the squadron get-togethers where I have to be on my best behavior and watch what I say, it is so refreshing to spend time with people who I don’t need to use a filter with. Sunday Suppers are about us and our friendship. We have each other’s backs Monday through Saturday and we celebrate surviving another week on Sunday!”
I think everyone should have a Sunday Supper group. It doesn’t have to be on Sundays though; maybe you are more of a Taco Tuesday group kind of person. That works, too! If you are a struggling military spouse please do yourself a favor and find a group, start a group, whatever it takes.
Having a consistent meetup and meal with friends once a week has been exactly what I need to recharge and get ready for the following week. It is how I survive my husband always being gone. The group brings laughter and support into my life in such a simple way.
Thinking of starting your own Sunday Supper now? Check out my tips below.
Keys to having a successful Sunday Supper:
Find a central location to host the supper.
We meet at the playground on our street. There is a pavilion with a barbecue we can use and everyone lives within walking distance from this spot.
Designate people to bring items.
We have a group chat on Messenger set up for our weekly event, so we all know what everyone plans to bring. We also have certain families assigned to bring the same things every week. For instance, I always bring a folding table and utensils, while another family always brings the charcoal.
Be flexible and open.
We shift our meeting time around other events happening for our group. We are also not exclusive, which is why we meet at the park. If you see us out having dinner, come on over and grab a plate. The more the merrier!
Always have dessert.
Most of us spend the entire week eating healthy and sticking to a diet. Come Sunday, we are ready for a cheat day and a slice or two of pie. It is both appropriate and polite to go nuts on dessert at Sunday Supper. It is also a great opportunity to try out a new recipe and step outside of your cooking comfort zone.
Let the kids be kids and trust that the other adults will help you watch them.
This is one of the best things about Sunday Supper. My kids go to bed exhausted every Sunday night after running around with the other kids and adults all afternoon.
I initially felt really sad that my daughter enjoyed playing with the other dads so much. I was sad her dad was not there to chase her around the playground and follow her down the slide, but then I realized how lucky she really is to know the love and mentorship of so many great father figures. I am thankful to have these people in my life and especially thankful they also enjoy holding my baby as much as they love playing with my toddler. One of my neighbor’s loves to steal baby cuddles from my youngest, and it is so wonderful because I do not have to have him attached to me the entire day. He usually ends up asleep and snuggled into her arms and they both leave Supper happy. I wait all week for an extra set of hands to help me and on Sundays I usually have ten!
What are some other ideas you have for surviving being stationed far from family or surviving a deployment?