September 6, 2013 by comhomflt
One of the worst parts of the pre-deployment phase – this time and the last two times – is the thought of the kids not having their daddy around. No daddy to be there for first steps, for birthdays, for climbing on the rocks at our favorite lighthouse, for singing at Bible time, for clam cake and chowder runs, for bike rides, for picking up Chinese and reading silly fortunes, for kisses and snuggles, for baths…for all the things they love having daddy for! So, although we knew we’d eventually have to tell them about this upcoming deployment, we certainly didn’t relish the thought. We had known for months, but since time is not understood quite the same way in a child’s world, we waited until we were a bit closer to break the news…far enough ahead for the LT and I to make the necessary arrangements but close enough for it not to be hanging over their heads for a seemingly endless period of time.
The first time orders came, our oldest was not quite four, and daddy broke the news to him while they were out for a “guys’ breakfast” one morning. He was pretty unfazed, although he very clearly remembers that there was a deployment, that daddy was supposed to go to Afghanistan, that daddy had to give his “Darge Dakota” away to a co-worker, and that the deployment was cancelled. The second set of orders were cancelled before we reached our “tell-the-kids” threshold, and they never knew about the orders or the cancellation. This time, we reached the threshold, and we have three kids old enough to be told. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we decided to make the day a nice family day since it had to contain bad news.
I made the kids each a military alphabet shirt from directions in a Military Spouse article I found – an idea that came from this blog. Overall, they came out looking pretty good! (FYI: Pink is not a good color, but purple and black work very nicely.) The kids were excited that I had made the “boring” shirts I bought at least a little interesting. Then, we hopped on our bikes and took our very first family-of-six bike path ride! It was an adventure! Only one of our kids is capable of biking several miles, so that means the LT has to pull about 70 lb. of combined girlie weight behind him! I got to have the little guy riding in his co-pilot seat behind me and enjoyed the occasional pokes from his pudgy little feet. (He liked the experience over all, but by the end of the ride, he let out a wail every time we bumped over a tree root in the path.) We logged about seven miles, finishing it off by riding up the long hill to our house. BZ to my LT for successfully tacking his way up pulling the girls!
Before we headed out to lunch, we sat the kids down, brought out the Hero Packs we had received for them at the Deployment Readiness Training event, and let them know about the deployment. Their reactions ran the gamut from sad to hilarious, from the expected to the unexpected. BM1 reacted as expected; his face dropped, his shoulders slumped, and he was instantly glum. He knows enough to realize what “most of a year” means this time, sadly. MC2 really had no reaction whatsoever; she just sat there looking at us. The unexpected – and hilarious! – reaction came from OS3, who interrupted the LT in mid-sentence to shout, “Yay! I love skyping!” (Note: skyping must include pictures of the bathroom facilities.) That was followed by her rather astute observation (and a nice perk, in her eyes), “Well, on the nights that daddy’s not home to bath us, we’ll just have to skip our baths!” (Homecoming will apparently be rather odiferous.) After a good laugh, we let the kids dive into their bags to examine their loot. They didn’t think it was a big deal, but in each bag, there was a card made by another child for them, thanking them for letting their parent serve our country. Enough to make a mommy cry!
We finished off our adventure with a trip to a local taco joint…mmm, mmm! The LT said it was like eating at one of the authentic Mexican places in San Diego, and with the gorgeous sunny and dry weather and the proximity of the water, I could almost believe I was there. Unfortunately, there was no Hotel del Coronado around the corner, though. One day, perhaps, I will visit there, but not until after I make it to the USS Arizona memorial in Hawaii! Hmmm…R&R in Hawaii sounds soooo nice…until I remember I’d have to get all four kids there and back on my own!
So, now the kids know, which means the deployment can finally be discussed and prayed about openly – whew! It is hard to make preparations when you can’t talk about the thing you are preparing for! When you keep referring to things as “this fall” and avoid answering their questions about why you are changing school up or why you are sad about the holidays this year. And now, I can go about setting up a schedule for when we are daddy-less, and proceeding with that will take a huge load off my mind! The kids seem to be handling the news pretty well so far, which also eases my mind; but please continue to keep them in your prayers.