As this deployment draws more and more near, I find myself doing what I always do. I withdraw. I become a hermit. I push away from my family, from my friends. I try to create little conflicts so that it will hurt less when we have to say goodbye.
If I am being honest with myself, none of this ever works. Nothing makes it easier or okay or, really, even bearable.
The thing that breaks my heart the most is when I think about Grady missing his daddy. I literally ache, writhing around uncomfortable in my own skin, when I think about how he is bound to feel not seeing his daddy for so long. Grady may come to me for comfort and for help (I am his mama, after all) but Abram is his world. His best pal. Daddy knows how to play cars and trains and tractors just the right way. Daddy is the first person he asks for when he wakes up in the morning and from his nap. Thinking about how confused and upset he is going to be is just unbearable.
So, like everything else I try to push it out of my mind.
Just a week from now it all begins. One measly week. I have been willing time to pass quickly so we can just get this over with and, unfortunately, time has listened.
This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” type of post, but as I mentioned previously I am attempting to use this blog as a way to share my heart. And right now, this is what I am thinking about.
Here are a couple of tips for what to do when discussing upcoming or current military service (be it basic training, AT, a deployment, etc.) with a service member’s family:
– Please do not say “This is what they signed up for! How can you be upset?” Um, I can be upset because he is my partner in this life and my best friend and the father of my son. We love him, we enjoy time with him, we depend on him and we are going to miss him greatly. We absolutely have the right to be upset about having to spend time away from him.
– Please do not say “Time is going to fly by! They’ll be home in the blink of an eye!” It’s nice to be upbeat and all but nine months passes by at a snail’s pace when a person you love is thousands of miles away, serving in a war zone. You worry every second of every day and miss them every second of every day.
– Offer to babysit, even without being asked. Parents with their partner deployed are taking on their partner’s load. It is a lot. Parenting is a twenty-four-hour-a-day job, regardless, but not having the person you lean on there with you to help ease some of the day-in-day-out strain is really tough. We have only experienced a handful of two-week stints apart since becoming parents and it is tough, y’all. We appreciate help.
– Send care packages to the service member! They love to receive them and share the contents with their buddies. When Abe was in Iraq, he received roughly one care package per week. It was awesome! I cannot wait to send him a little box of love from home and I hope many others will participate in sending care packages, notes or letters as well. Your service member is missing you and thinking about you just as much as you are thinking about them.
– Please do not ask “how much longer until he/she comes home?” We don’t know squat until about .02 seconds before they come home. Do some basic math and calculate roughly nine months from their point of departure (or whatever their term of service is anticipated to be) and you have as much information as we have. We love to talk about their return home and, believe me, we will share that information with much jubilation once we have that information.
– Please do not ask for specific details about what our service member has “been up to” while they are deployed. As loved ones to service members, we have to follow a code of conduct called OPSEC (operational security) which is put in place to keep our loved ones safe. Just know they are over there performing their duties, completing their mission and that once he/she gets home, he/she will share what they can and what they wish to share. This is all for the safety of the service member, not to keep loved ones in the dark. I will do anything in my power to keep Abram safe so my lips will be sealed. Sorry, folks!
– Please invite the deployed service member’s family out to do fun things. We still want to have fun. We still want to be involved in the real world. We do not have the plague :) We are just missing our loved one and would love a diversion. Don’t, though, expect us to accept every invitation. We may have a Skype date planned or just need to have a day to mope around in our PJs and cuddle each other and talk about daddy. That’s okay too.
I promise I will have some pictures after this weekend. We are having a birthday party for Grady together with a “see ya soon” party for Abram. I’m thinking it is going to be quite cute and, hopefully, a lot of fun! I also have quite a few completed projects about which I need to post soon, I just need to snap some photos. Stay tuned.