A while ago I posted a link to a guest post I did for Faith & Deployments. I decided to go ahead and post it here as well. Enjoy!
The truth is we can kill ourselves coming up with all these ideas and things to do to help our kids remember. We make lists and plans but the reality is nothing goes as planned. Deployments are as unpredictable as our kids. When my husband left my daughter and I, just two short weeks after she turned one, I thought I had it under control. I thought I knew all the right things to do and say. I had all these pre-conceived ideas complete with images in my head of skyping with my husband while our daughter sat smiling and talking. But, do you wanna know the reality? My daughter is a toddler. She is on the move constantly and is incapable of sitting still. She would rather do just about anything than sit in front of a laptop staring at a pixelated video chat of what only slightly resembles a man she hasn't seen in weeks. Then you've got my husband, bless his soul, who is not used to our daughter being a toddler and hardly even knows what to do or say through a video chat to keep her interested. Needless to say...most chances at skyping with our daughter resulted in her crawling away. This tore so strong at my heart strings. Little Miss was always a daddy's girl before he left and at that point she hardly even cared to talk to him. I know it must have hurt his heart to because Little Miss is his world. When my husband has the chance to call he did and rarely, but sometimes Lena would be awake when he called instead of napping and I would let her talk. Very few times did she actually talk back but the times she did she would say, "ooookay. Yeah. Okay.".Those are her two favorite words. My husband loved hearing her talk. Of course there were the skypes when he saw her milestones and saw her take steps which I'm sure brought him so much joy.
After months of only seeing daddy through a screen I was so worried that it wasn't enough. That she wouldn't remember. I questioned myself wondering had I showed her his picture often enough? Had I kept daddy alive in her head and heart?
Well, on September 12, my husband and I's two year wedding anniversary, my daughter and I were driving back to the air force base for the first time in months. We waited what seemed like forever and then proceeded onto the flightline. We watched as the doors to a kc-135 opened and men in uniform began walking out...and that is the moment I realized that nothing mattered now. I had done all I could and in my heart the moment she hugged him I knew it was all okay. She remembered and I knew nothing would ever tear them apart. Little Miss and daddy have a strong bond that not even deployments can break apart. You can plan and buy daddy dolls and do all these things to prepare but in the end life doesn't care about your plans. You just get through it. You talk and you be honest. You tell your little babies that daddy will be back soon and you explain his love for them. It's hard, but they'll never forget no matter the age. My husband has been home for 3 weeks now and it amazes me and nearly brings me to tears to see how close our daughter and him are-it's like he never left. Kids are wonderful creatures because they adapt so well to change unlike most adults. Some take more time than others but that's okay.
I guess in the end you just have to take it one day at a time. You have to listen to your child and see how they are feeling. It's a big thing that a child won't understand but if you are constantly loving and supporting they will get though it just like my precious angel did. There will be nights when they cry relentlessly and they will have days where they fight you till no end but be open minded and be ready for everything to change in an instant. Kids are like roller coasters emotionally during deployments and all you can do is hang on tight and enjoy the ride because at the end is a hug from a sexy soldier and a kiss goodnight from daddy:)