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Daddy Deployed, Part 2

March 19, 2010

This is a continuation of my interview with Susan Stuber, wondermom to 2 sets of twins born 19 months apart, with a full-time career.  Her husband Patric, a captain with the National Guard has been deployed to Iraq for his second tour of duty.  You can find the first part of the interview here.

Q. What do you miss most about having your husband home?

The companionship.  The people that have shown up and helped and listened and sent a package and babysat and all of those things are incredible.  They are simply incredible.  They aren’t my husband.  I didn’t marry them.  I didn’t later decide to start a family with them.  I don’t have the ease of relationship with them that I have with my husband.  I miss laughing with him at the end of the day when it is finally quiet.  I miss talking through our strategies with the kids.  I miss having someone around that doesn’t care if I’m a wreck sometimes and knows it’s okay for me to admit that this is hard.

Q. Besides having Patric home, what would help you out the most?

I think I’ve been very highly aware of how hard this is to do without family in the area this time around.  Today I am home with a second sick kid this week, and I don’t feel well myself.  It would be great to have someone who could pick up the other three at the end of the day so that Ben and I could just sit here on the couch and feel better.  Instead we’ll both head back to daycare in about an hour, him with a puke bucket in his lap, and we’ll pick up the healthy ones and I’ll fix dinner, give baths and muddle through.  Our families are very helpful when we need them and will show up at the drop of a hat, but they have to travel a long way to get here right now.

Q. What are you most proud of?

My kids and my husband are all incredible. I’m proud every time we manage an outing together and we do a great job.  I’m proud when they thank me for making them dinner.  I’m proud of how incredibly resilient they are.  I am quietly proud of my husband.  He has given up a year of his life with his young family for others.  We hate it for us, but we are proud of what he does for others.  He doesn’t get to choose the politics, but he has always been ready to help when needed.

Q. Do you have friends and family that help on the weekends?

Our families live in the MidWest, so we don’t get to see them all the time nor do we benefit from having that group available to call on.  But they come and visit and drive here and stay with us and play with us and keep us company when they can get away for a weekend, and that is a treat.  It is great to have the distraction of a visitor in our weekend routine.  I’m awful at the weekends.  We have a rhythm during the week and we have pretty well defined time periods.  When we get to the weekend I’m tired and they’re tired and we don’t generally have a plan unless someone has come to visit.  So we kind of wind-up getting on top of each other and fussing and loosing our manners so to speak—myself included.

Q. How are your kids doing?  How do they stay in touch with their dad?

My kids are incredible.  They are incredible in a couple of different ways.  In large part, they roll with it.  They talk about their dad being at work and that they miss him.  They talk about what they’ll do when he comes home.  They remember when we got to hang out at the beginning of February.  And then there is the part where they just move on as well.  It’s pretty incredible really.

Q. How did you prepare them for this year apart?  Do they understand?

It was hard to make that decision for them—what all do they understand?  How much should we ask them to understand?  What do we really want them to understand?  They know their dad is at work with soldiers for a long time.  That was about as deep as we went.  In 2009 Patric was in and out a lot with his job and preparing for the deployment, so we got used to him being gone.  I think it has helped the transition to right now.

Q. How do you keep Patric a part of everything?

We don’t.  We just don’t.  He was in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005.  During that time we didn’t have children and “we” did our IVF cycle to become pregnant with the boys and I did that pregnancy by myself.  We pined for each other; we e-mailed all the time; we called; we were miserable and so romantic and distraught.  We wrote long letters.  Now I spend my Saturday evenings after the kids are in bed folding 7 loads of laundry from the week.  The duties of life have been more highly prioritized this time.  He has been finishing a semester of graduate school; I’ve been keeping us afloat.

I remember thinking that the blog would be a great way to keep him up-to-date on all of us like it does for our family that all live far away.  But the military has blocked the blog from their networks and when I e-mail the posts, their e-mail system strips out the pictures.  When I tried to e-mail the pictures with an update, it kicked the message back as too big and I can only send one maybe two pictures at a time.  Still, we can do that which is much more that previous generations.  He’ll get his own dial-up connection soon and we’ll see if that helps.

Q. When does Patric return?  Any furloughs? Is this date set in stone, or can it be changed by the army?

Taking different reports into account, we’re going with home by Halloween right now.  It isn’t set in stone.  The orders that he is deployed on are very vague about a return date and are very clear that it can be extended, whatever it is.

Q. What are your thoughts on his (and your!) service to our country?

How quickly we forget.  We forget that these soldiers are in harm’s way.  We did.  We didn’t watch as closely after he came home last time; we got busy with life; we went on about our business.   Now that he is back there, I am confronted with how dangerous his job is.  And I pray for soldiers and their families every day now.

Q. What can readers be doing from afar for soldiers deployed, and their families stateside?

Do what tickles you.  Seriously.  Everyone has different things they love to do.  Some of our friends really get a kick out of putting fun packages together for the soldiers; others really like hanging out with our kids.  Some of our friends are busy and send an encouraging word or a phone call when they get a chance.  I would say that when you offer to help a family of a deployed soldier and you mean it, hand them a piece of paper with your phone number on it.  If you don’t, I will be thankful that you said that but I don’t really think you want to help.  All of these things add up to a huge help and encouragement for us.  We are thankful for every thought and actions of encouragement that comes our way.  From my experience, military families mostly want to know that their sacrifices are mostly recognized as a service to all American people—even if it is just eeking out a “Thank you for your service,” when you see a soldier in the airport.


Thank you so much Susan, for sharing your poignant story with us.  In case you missed it yesterday, Susan maintains an excellent blog, The Mighty Stuber Brood.  So far, I’ve visited every day – I just love Susan’s humor!  And yes, I don’t know how she does it either…

As a token of our gratitude for what you are going through, Whole Foods of Memphis has offered a full week of their awesome “Value” meals for Susan’s family!  That’s a whole week of healthy and delicious Chef-created meals ready to go – no chopping or cooking necessary.  Many thanks to Whole Foods of Memphis for their generosity.

If you’d like to send letters or packages to Captain Stuber and/or his soldiers, you can find him at the following address:

CPT Patric Stuber
G Troop, 2/278 ACR
APO-AE 09391

It’s so clear to me that people like the Stuber family make this country great.

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  1. Joyce Banton

      on March 19, 2010 7:40 am

    I follow the Stuber Brood blog and enjoy it so much, but you have managed to get Susan talk about herself, and I love it! She thinks she’s rambling or saying too much, but she doesn’t realize that she says things that resonate with everyone!

    I love that Susan won’t have to cook for a week. Fabulous gift. Thank you, Heidi, for bringing Susan to us. Thank you Susan, Nick, Ben, Alida, Elaine and Patric for all that you do for us.


  2. nancy

      on March 19, 2010 10:20 am

    Fabulous story… it is an amazing sacrifice all of our soldiers make and I am truly grateful! Thank you Patric and Susan!
    Also, is it okay if I share this on facebook??


  3. Heidi Farmer

      on March 19, 2010 11:09 am

    Of course! Thanks so much for your comment.


  4. Jenny Hout

      on March 19, 2010 12:32 pm

    Yay to Whole Foods!! That is an awesome thing for this family! Thank you Heidi for sharing Susan’s story!


  5. gillian s

      on March 19, 2010 1:09 pm

    yay Whole Foods! I will pay them a visit today as a thanks! Thank you both for a wonderful story!


  6. Jim

      on March 19, 2010 1:57 pm

    I will never be able to fully understand what you and yours are dealing with. I do know for certain that you and Patric are very special people as individuals and a couple, to serve your family and country with such committment and humility. The Stuber Brood is a microcosm of what most people hope and dream the world can be. Thank you.


  7. Mama Nolte

      on March 19, 2010 2:18 pm

    Great idea, Gillian. I’m going to Whole Foods, too.
    I just may take them this article to put up in their employee break room!

    Thank you to Susan for taking the time to give these thoughtful responses to great questions from Heidi! For some of us, it isn’t easy talking about ourselves. Some women in her shoes may only say, “It isn’t easy being me.”
    But with humor, photos and great writing, Susan also lets us know she is blessed.


  8. Melissa Stoddard

      on March 19, 2010 3:56 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful family story!! Susan you are dynamic!


  9. Marla

      on March 19, 2010 9:52 pm

    I finally sat down and read this wonderful interview and after about 15 minutes, after I dried the tears from my eyes, was able to make a comment. I am struck with the strength that Susan is able to have to meet the incredible challanges of her life. I am also struck with how well her children are doing because of her strength. And the strength that Patric has with his unbelievable job. You are blessed to have what every family strives to have: Love, commitment, courage, respect, honor, and faith. What a wonderful family!


  10. Sarah

      on March 19, 2010 10:31 pm

    Thank you, Heidi, for shining the spotlight on a hard working (in every sense of the phrase) American family. I agree with those that have said how nice it is to learn more about Susan herself. She has great strength, good humor and admirable perseverance. I am proud to know her.


  11. Susan

      on March 19, 2010 10:57 pm

    Oh, now I am crying. Thank you all for saying such warm and loving things about me and my family. Thank you Whole Foods. And thank you Heidi and Sarah for helping us share our little story. It is a privilege for us to have such a story to tell.


  12. Jennifer

      on March 22, 2010 8:52 am

    Heidi, thank you for sharing the story of Susan and her family. They are truly amazing, and I count it a privilege to know them personally. Susan is a rock which can roll with whatever may come along and strong enough to weather this storm, as she has so many others. Her kids are all chips off that rock and are able to do the same. We are proud to know Patric and thankful and blessed by his service. You have done a wonderful job sharing their story with others. Thank you!


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