Month of the Military Child- Helping Children Understand

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

April is Month of the Military Child. Since Huzzy and I don’t have children, I put out a call for guest bloggers to help out. I originally wanted to do a guest blogger every Monday, but I had so many fantastic responses that you’ll see a guest blogger every Monday and Thursday!

My fourth guest blogger is Army wife Kate from  jak{ofhearts}.

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Hi, I’m Kate from jak{ofhearts}! My husband, John, and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been married for 3 years and have 5 years of his Army career behind us. We have a 2 year old daughter, Aliyah, who had a heart transplant when she was two months old. Our lives are full of her laughter and the reminder that every moment with her is a gift.

>>>>

“Boots off.”

Those words are first. They are before hello, they are before a kiss. She knows that when Daddy’s boots come off, he is home to stay.

She couldn’t understand why Daddy was gone for so long. She didn’t know that it was just field work and that he’d be back in a few weeks. She didn’t understand why we couldn’t always talk to him, but when she opened the coat closet and saw the empty space where Daddy’s boots are supposed to be – that she understood.

I’m fine with talking about Daddy’s work in terms of his boots because I know that someday she’s going to ask harder questions to answer than, “where are Daddy’s boots?”. At two years old, she doesn’t understand that her Daddy is a part of something bigger, but she knows everybody wears the same clothesShe doesn’t know what sacrifice means, but she knows what it looks like. She doesn’t know that he could die. She doesn’t know her Daddy is a soldier. And all of those things, those questions and fears that make my stomach turn inside out, she will have them someday. She will eventually realize what it means when we see people without legs and missing arms at the grocery store. She will understand that the fear surrounding her Daddy’s job isn’t like the monsters in her closet, it’s reality. She will come to terms with that reality – but not today.

Today, if you were to ask her about Daddy, she would tell you that he has a nice hat and big boots, and drives trains (strykers, trains, same thing.). She would tell you that he holds her hand and that they ‘nuggle before bed every night. She would tell you that he is silly and has big socks. She would tell you that he is her world.

She cried big crocodile tears the day he had to go back to work after 2 back to back months of training in the field. We have since given her distinctions – “work” means he’s home for dinner, “mission” means he’s going to be gone for a while – but distinctions won’t prepare our little Daddy’s girl for a deployment. Nothing is going to prepare her for Daddy’s boots to be gone for months and months. I’m not going to tell her that he is fighting bad guys. I’m not going to tell her that he might not come home. But there will be no way to avoid the empty space where Daddy’s boots go.

And when the time comes that she asks so sweetly where Daddy’s boots are, I will tell her as simply as I can. “Daddy’s boots are being brave, baby. We will see them soon.”

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5 thoughts on “Month of the Military Child- Helping Children Understand

  1. Pingback: Boots off | lima oscar victor echo

  2. This post made me tear up, it’s a great post. It’s awesome! I may actually have to share this with some other people. It’s hard even for me during this deployment.

  3. Gorgeously written honey. What a sacrifice you and your family make. Thank you. Thank him.

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