Sarah Smiley, a Navy wife and mom to three boys knew military life was not easy, but when her husband was up for a deployment, she dreaded the year ahead. When he deployed to Afghanistan, the idea to have someone take his place at their family dinner table once a week was quickly put into motion.
The Smiley boys and their mom hosted politicians, teachers, Olympians, and family friends, each with a different lesson for the family as they pushed on without their father and partner. What originally sounded like a crazy thought turned into an amazing experience for everyone involved.
Sarah gets incredibly real in her book -- military life is hard. When you're the spouse of soldier, life often gets put on hold and families must rearrange their realities to become peaceful about deployment. That being said, peaceful does not mean happy! No one was "happy" about Dustin's deployment. The boys each suffered from their father being gone in his own way, and Sarah ends up overwhelmed, lonely, and burnt out. It's all poured out onto the pages... I dare you not to cry and hurt with her.
As most of you know, Aaron is Active Duty Air Force, though currently on a controlled tour here in the D.C. area. That means, unless something major were to happen, he won't deploy until this tour is over. I'm a lucky woman. This controlled tour was such a blessing in this unsettled time in the world and reading Sarah's words brought me to tears many times. I have yet to experience a deployment as a mother and I know the time is coming. Seeing the bravery exhibited, not only by Sarah, but by her boys, will certainly be a comfort when Aaron does have to spend time overseas.
This book is not simply a quick read for military spouses to know someone out there feels their pain, nor is it simply about dinners with a lesson. Anyone can benefit from reading what real families go through when a spouse is away at war and can learn from the lessons taught by each of the dinner guests. Some are small lessons, but others hold big emotions with a big impact. I felt honored to share in the Smiley family experience and want all of you to read this and feel it too.
The amazingly sweet author, Sarah Smiley, has offered a copy of her beautifully written book to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday night and I'll draw a winner Monday morning.