I felt like a single parent again. I had to do everything on my own, homework, activities all of it. I was mad at times and sad at others. That’s why I couldn’t imagine how my children must have felt. Two children 10, 2 and 10 months. Their ages when my husband deployed. We came home to North Carolina from Hawaii where I could have family nearby but in all honesty I still felt alone. I was only a few weeks in and I was already feeling overwhelmed. Deployment. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through, if I could cope but I knew I had to.
My oldest understood what was happening. He knew that Daddy was going to help fight a war to protect our country. He was proud of him and took it upon himself to try and ‘be the man of the house’ while Daddy was gone. He was 10. Not only was this not possible but I knew it wasn’t fair. Somehow I had to teach him to be a kid, that I could handle it and he didn’t have to.
My 2 year old knew nothing more than she missed him. He was there and then he wasn’t. We talked to her and told her Daddy was going to ‘work’. This was our first deployment with children. We didn’t know what else to tell her. It wasn’t until later that we would realize calling it ‘work’ actually did more damage than good.
The baby didn’t understand at all. She was 9 months old and he was gone. She’d only just met him and now he had become nothing more than a face on a computer screen or a voice over the phone. At first she was irritable and seemed to be missing him but then she was fine. She laughed, played and grew like any other 9 month old. I’m not sure she missed him because I’m not sure she knew who he was to miss.
Married But Alone
So there I was. A married single mom trying to figure how to not only comfort myself during my husband’s deployment but also how to comfort, entertain and at times distract my children during the whole process. It wasn’t always easy. I hated being that woman who everyone looked at with the wedding ring but always alone. To help me cope, I think I signed up for every family activity my city had to offer. My son was in band, my daughter took dance and art classes and we nearly lived at the library story times. Yet was it working?
My son was angry and moody. He was trying so hard to be the man he could never be. He wanted to help and take care of so much when all he really needed was his Dad.
My daughter would wake up in the middle of the night calling for him – then when I reminded her he was ‘at work’ she would weep with disappointment. Work became a bad word to her. If one of my relatives said they were going to ‘work’ she would lose it. It was then I realized the mistake we had made.
Then came my baby girl. She was the only peace I had during it all because she was still the happy chuckling child she’d always been. The worry came with wondering how she would react when he returned. Would she remember him?
Slowly we found our routine. School, dance, community events, church, Skype with Daddy, making care packages…it all helped us cope. Staying busy kept the worry and longing at bay. Keeping our minds and even our bodies active helped us to avoid thinking too much about what might be or where he was.
My son joined a youth group at church where he was able to simply be a kid. We had Daddy Dolls from our MWR Program that helped the my oldest daughter remember my husband’s face and gave her something to cling to she missed him the most. As for my baby girl, we showed her pictures and videos always telling her ‘that’s Daddy’. She spent hours simply cooing and laughing with him on skype.
Where We Are Now
That 10 year old is now an 18 College Freshman who followed his music dreams and has a chance to be whatever it is he decides to be. He is still my tender hearted boy but he has learned how to be the young man he needs to be as well.
My oldest daughter is now 8 and one of the most talented and mini-rockstars out there. She loves all things music and dance plus she’s even tackling sports now. She is and probably always be forever active. She is also my husband’s shadow and twin. Going to ‘work’ still doesn’t sit well with her but she has come to understand with a bit of explaining from us that what Daddy did then was a bit more than just work.
Now my baby girl has grown into a sweet, kind-hearted and loving little 6 year old. She loves everyone and never hesitates to show it in her actions and her words. She loves her Daddy more than the moon and the stars and I am so glad to say that because I was so scared about whether she would have a distance but the only distance they have is the one between them as he holds her hand.
Since the Deployment we have added another member to our little Team, my little Buddie who is now 4. He was born right after Daddy returned home for good and he is definitely our baby and the entire house’s baby too. The only thing we may have to worry about with him is how many people he can get to fall for him with his smile.
We Made It
We were going to make it. We would be okay. Together and with the help of those around us. It was thanks to great programs and family support that once that year was over we were able to reunite and still be a healthy family. To this day I look back uncertain of how I made it through with my sanity and my children still happy but we did and now we know that it all made us stronger as a woman, as a mother, as a father, as a husband, as a wife, as a couple… as a family.
Have you come through your first deployment yet?
How did you help your children cope?
How did you cope?
Blogger & Social Media Influencer
Tiffany is the ‘ Tee’ behind TheMrsTee.com - a Lifestyle Blog created as a place to share her love of all things Faith, Family, Fashion, Food, Fun, Tech & Travel. Tiffany has established her influence within both the Blogging and Vlogging Communities. She is a 2016 VOTY Award Honoree, Contributing Author with iBlog Magazine and BlogHer.com. Tiffany has also been a Panelist for the MomsEveryday TV Show for 2 Seasons.
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