YDU: About Guiding Kids Through Deployment?


Why didn't you tell me ...

We spouses at home understand the waiting game. We don’t like it. We might not even want to play it. Since we chose to marry our husbands, we’re forced to partner up with him and play along, blessed with constant support from God, experience, and the knowledge that our hubby’s return is well worth the wait.

Unfortunately, our kiddos don’t possess the above experience, understanding, or the patience to successfully play this game. Thus, it’s our jobs, as parents, to help them through this time and attempt to give them tools and strategies they can use to conquer the waiting game.

In our house, we are creeping up on the midway point …  my hubby, their daddy, has been away for six months. As the time passes, I have noticed the kids feeling his absence even more deeply.  Our oldest son is entering adolescence, he needs his dad. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking to mom about certain things. Our middle son, habitually points out what “dad would say if he were here” in reference to jokes or movies, but the baby girl, who has been doted on by her daddy since the day we stuck that pink bow to her tiny forehead in the nursery of the hospital, told me that daddy’s absence is “breaking [her] heart."

Through their actions, words, and behavior our kids have been telling me they need help. Good thing that’s what mommas do best.

Mom’s plan of attack:  To thwart the sadness that these months have brought into our midst requires a multi-pronged approached. With summer right around the corner, I have to get “Operation: Enduring Deployment” underway.

Prong 1: Plan the wait away. I am printing each calendar month that remains until dad’s return. On those calendars, exciting, kid focus events will be evenly dispersed. Things like:  Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, Moody Gardens … and other exciting, fun things for the kids to look forward to each week or two. Not only will they have a blast, but the accomplishment of each these fun-filled adventures will symbolize a little milestone we have achieved bringing us closer to his return.

Prong 2: Something special and personal. Like all moms know, each baby we have has their own thoughts, personalities, and hobbies. I am going to schedule on our calendars special things to do with each one of the kids, just mom and him/her. Weekly runs with the oldest, letting the baby girl join me in yoga once a month, and it looks like I have some chess games with the middle one in my near future (he always wins).  My goal is to give them each a platform, with just me, no brother or sister, to open up and talk about anything they are thinking or feeling.  I feel certain that I will enjoy that time a much as they do.

Prong 3: Family Connected.  The third and final approach, finding more ways to involve daddy in our family life here (beyond Skype). As of right now, I added our “Family Connected” page on my blog to allow daddy to still participate in our family activities. For example, my hubby, our oldest, and I enjoy running. Last summer we ran several 5Ks together, and we all loved it. I created a run log that allows dad to log his miles (once we get some technical difficulties squared away) with mine and Aus’s. Most importantly, we’re still running some 5Ks “together” this summer. On the morning of the events, daddy’s evening, he runs his 3.1 miles over there, and we run ours here. We might not be together, but we’re still sharing something we enjoy as a family, even separated by half a globe.

I’m certain I will need to tweak this plan as we go, but no worries. If it assists our babies in enduring this separation and eases their stress, it is worth all the time, the effort, and the tweaking required. Ultimately, we moms are motivated by an unending love for our children, and anything motivated by momma’s love can’t hurt. Most importantly they will know we’re here for them while we make some fun memories conquering the waiting game.

I am Tiffany Christmas, wife of a deployed soldier, a mom to our 3 kids, and an 8thgrade teacher from Texas.  When my husband and I married in 1999 he was in the United States Marine Corps.  He became a reservist in the National Guard, Airborne Unit in 2009.  Activated this past year, he is currently deployed.  I began our family blog trying to offer any bit of information and support for other families who are separated by service.  Our family blog address is: http://yellowribbonfamily.blogspot.com/

Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story.  If you have a story for us, please submit by visiting our contact us page.

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