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His Daddy

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A dear friend of mine welcomed home her deployed husband this past weekend for R&R. He has been gone a total of 8 months so far. Her son is only a couple of months younger than mine, and I started thinking about all the things her husband missed in their son’s life while he was gone. Birthdays, milestones, first words… a lot can happen in 8 months!

Adam & his Daddy.

It made me start thinking a lot about my son, Adam and how he will deal during this upcoming deployment. Adam is 14 months old and he loves his daddy. When he has a choice of who he wants to go to between the two of us, he always picks his daddy. Now I am not sad or jealous, I know he loves me just the same, he just has a real special place in his heart for his daddy who loves him very much.

Because he loves his daddy so much, I am worried about how Adam will deal with him being gone. The last time we were apart, Adam definitely noticed. It wasn’t so much that he cried, but just in the little every day things. I didn’t even see it until we were back together again as a family, but I realized just how much Adam had missed his daddy. I honestly thought that he was too young to really understand or notice, but it saddens me to see that he does even at this young age.

I wish I could protect him. I wish I could stop it from happening just for him. As an adult I can deal with a deployment in my own way, but how can he being a little boy? Even though he knows his daddy is gone, he doesn’t fully understand. And even though he will see daddy occasionally on Skype and maybe even hear his voice on the phone, how do I get him to understand that his daddy will be back? That his daddy has not left for good? That his daddy still loves him very much even though he is far away?

I have tears in my eyes as I write this, because I love my son so much. I don’t want to see him go through the rigors of deployment. I want to shield him as much as I can. But how can I do that? I know there will be other deployments, other times apart. This is what military life is all about. It’s about learning to adapt, learning to press on, and learning that my responsibility is being the best parent I can be while his daddy is gone.

As I thought again about my friend’s son being reunited with his daddy, and as I looked at their homecoming pictures, I saw how happy that little boy was. He didn’t care that is daddy had been gone, he was just happy that he had returned. He wasn’t thinking of all the missed moments, he was looking forward to his daddy holding his hand and playing with him again.

I am confident it will be the same for Adam. My hope is that he will not grow up thinking about all the time his daddy was away, but that he will remember all the good times they spent together. The playing, wrestling, laughing, tickling, and everything else in between. Those are the things that make memories. Those are the things he loves about his daddy.

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  1. Kids are resilient. Especially military children. Its harder when your children are at the age they dont understand time. But just having pics up and skyping helps. Last deployment Ethan didnt know who his dad was. This time around he does. I know he misses him. But just seeing him on skype makes his day.

    Its hard but we all get through it even the kids.

  2. Order the Sesame Street deployment kit. You can get it free from Military One Source and it's super cute and great for kids. Adam might be a little young for it yet, but I'm sure you will get some ideas out of it too.
    One thing I did for Jake when Chuck first started traveling was get them each matching stuffed animals. (In their case ACU covered TY beanie babies) Chuck would take photos of the bear in different places and so would Jake and then we would share them with each other. Since the bears looked the same, it was like they were the same bear.
    And remember, some days, you just need to sit on the couch, put on a movie, and cuddle with each other! 😉

  3. I feel you completely! My oldest was only 6 months when his daddy left and 16 month old when he got him back.. Now when he goes for training for weeks/months at a time there is a huge difference in him.
    One thing that helps is to buy 2 big (3ftx3ft) sheets of plexiglass and put pictures of Adam and his daddy between them and screw it together on the edges with screws. Then hang it low on the wall so he can see it all the time.
    Also there is a deployment book called "I'm here for you now" that you can add pictures into and read to him at night.
    Also even thought they don't understand time I always use time to describe how long daddy will be gone. Like "Daddy will be home in 9 months" or "Daddy will be home in 2 days" and get very excited about it. Even though they don't really know how long two days is or 9 months they still know its coming.

    Deployments suck for toddlers but your Adam is stronger than you know. You will all get through it, and be stronger for it.

  4. Get him a daddy doll. My mom also made a life sized poster of my husband that we put on the back of Abbie's door that she kisses goodnight every night. Kids are resilient though. You'll get through it just fine.

  5. Just that picture at the end chokes me up!

    Of course no one can take his dad's place while he's gone, but I know you'll be the best mom to him, and that helps a lot.

  6. hmm wonder who that friend might be?!?! lol 🙂

    I think that first of all… I tried not to focus on how much Russ and Ezra were missing out on each other. It was probably one of the hardest parts of this deployment. Most days I was like, "man, ezra doesn't even know he has a daddy!" And it would make me so sad.

    But, I tried to look at it as, "WOW – i have this opportunity, to have a WHOLE year all to my self with my little man! I don't have to share!" Just looking at things a little bit differently helped.

    What I have been amazed at the most though, has been Ezra's reaction. I swear he somehow remembers or "knows" his daddy! I don't know how! Cuz i don't feel like i've done that much to keep that memory alive. I had no faith that daddy would be anything other than a visitor like Grandma or Grandpa, but his reaction is totally different. I can see it and I can feel it.

    I did do a few things:

    Constantly showing Ezra pictures. Pictures of daddy on the fridge – pictures of daddy in his photo album books. Pictures of daddy on the computer (sometimes I would just put my screensaver on at dinner time and show him pictures one after another). Pictures of daddy in frames around the house. A picture of daddy in his daddy doll. And every time (okay not every time, but a lot of times) – I would say something like this: "Ezra! Who's that?!! That's DADDY! Can you say DADA? where's Daddy? Daddy's in afghanistan!"

    Video skype on occasion. We get to "skype" a few times a week, but the video doesn't work well so most of the time we just use voice. But we try to do the camera for at least a minute or two a few times a month. And same thing – "who is that? that's daddy!" Russ didn't really like to "talk" to Ezra on the computer or phone (it was just weird for him cuz he's eccentric like that), but that's something that Jon can do.

    Hallmark recordable story book. yes they are expensive – but worth it. Just make sure you get it done and recorded before he leaves! We read them often – and the closer we got to RnR, the more we read it (the last month we read it 1-2 times each night.) also that last month I would tell him that this was his "daddy book." (he has a book I read with him that I call his "mommy book.") Not just reading the book to him (turning the pages so russell's voice came through), but stressing to him "this is your daddy book! *show a picture* See, that's daddy! Where's daddy? Daddy's in afghanistan! But this is your daddy book and we are going to read!"

    I also constantly told him "daddy's coming home!" Really soon, in a few weeks, days, today, etc.

    I really didn't think he would remember. But at the airport – those photos, that smile. I am still shocked. And seriously, he is so enthralled with daddy! He says dadadadada ALL DAY LONG just constantly! And when we are separated (like in another room nursing or something), he'll look at the door, and say Dada? It's crazy! I had no clue.

    So I guess what I say in all of this…yeah, it is going to be hard. And it will probably be a lot harder on Adam than it was on Ezra, because he's a toddler, not a baby. But, in the grand scheme of his life, when he's 10, he's not going to remember daddy being gone and missing this or that. (now if you have later deployments that's another story, but this deployment he is still little and it will be harder on you and Jon probably than it will be on him.)

    Just try to relax – keep daddy before Adam and in his memory. Stay busy as you can with him (yay you'll have free use of the CAR!) and try to keep adam busy so the days pass quickly and you will be reunited again!

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