I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?”
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 fifth guest blogger is New Mommy Confessions. She’s pretty new to blogging, but she’s catching on quick. While a large portion of it concerns military life, her blog also touches on “normal” family life, crafts, baking and the occasional rant.
When the Sailor and I started talking babies we knew it meant someone’s career was at an end. At the time we were both active duty, but we had already decided that a child should have at least one stable person in their life. Financially it made the most sense for the Sailor to remain in the Navy and for me to get out.
Everything worked out beautifully, and when Baby Girl turned 8 months I was honorably discharged and ready to tackle my new role as a stay-at-home-mom. By this time the Sailor was already 2 months into a 6 month cruise. This meant that for the first 2 months I was a working, first-time mommy with no family in the area. The Navy doesn’t care if your kid is sick and daycare won’t take them.
I gained a healthy respect for working moms and especially military moms in those first months. I also learned that it just wasn’t for me. I might tease the Sailor about a lot of things (like who got the higher ASVAB score…ha!) but he is constantly forced to do something that I know in my heart I would not be capable of. More often than we like, he is called upon to leave his baby girl behind to do a job far, far away.
The first time he left she was 6 months old. He missed everything. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him to hear all of her accomplishments through email and rare phone calls. First teeth, first word (Daddy!), crawling, climbing, first birthday…
I debated with myself what to do while he was gone. I knew that the most important thing to me was to be sure that Baby Girl knew who her Daddy was. I had his picture plastered everywhere: it was the screensaver on my phone and computer. I put up extra pictures of him around the house and invested in some “unbreakable” frames for our daughter so she had pictures of him she could play with. I had a pillow made up with his picture on it and she slept with it every night. He recorded himself reading her books, which I played so many times that I can recite “Hop on Pop” and a lot of other Dr. Suess books by heart.
But the hardest decision was what to do about him. Do I tell him every little milestone? Do I hide some from him so that maybe he wouldn’t know how much he was missing? This was our first child, and he had to miss so much of it.
In the end I told him everything. I took a picture of her every day he was gone and sent him every single one. I sent him a pillowcase with a collage of baby pictures on it. A lot of women will complain about how the ship went into “River City” a lot during that deployment, but I’m convinced the internet just needed to take frequent breaks after dealing with all my emails and pictures.
When the Sailor came home I was a wreck. Did I do everything I could? Will she remember him? He had been gone for more so long.
In the end I didn’t need to worry. As soon as Daddy showed up I was invisible! (Hey kid, remember me? Mommy?) It was all worth it. Baby Girl certainly knew her Daddy.
Now we’re going through it again. Already. By the time he gets back this time he will have been gone for more than half of her life. It’s easier and harder this time. I know what to do, and I’m getting pretty good at it. He recorded books again before he left, we spent a lot of family time together and she sleeps with her Daddy Doll. But new stuff is cropping up as well. Nothing prepares you for your child wandering the house yelling, “Daddy, where are you?” because she thinks he’s just hiding. It breaks my heart every time.
When he comes home safe this will all feel like it was just a bad dream. I look forward to that day and pray for his safety and the safety of all those men and women on board. And I hang in there. I was a sailor too, and we’re a tough breed. And now I’m a milspouse, and we’re an even tougher breed. We wait until the kids are asleep to cry. Then we dry our tears, shake it off and carry on.