This one simple sentence in the article hit me like a ton of bricks & I completely lost it.
A single deployment can be half a toddler's lifetime.
Our son, Kyler, will be 3 on June 21st & this is his second deployment. Paul was gone for pre-deployment training for his 1st birthday (we celebrated a week earlier) & he left 1 month & 10 days after he turned a year old, he was gone for 7 months to the day, he returned when Kyler was 20 months old. I know that the deployment affected him, for the first week after his Daddy left I couldn't get him to eat anything. I wasn't prepared for that at all, I knew I would be okay after-all this was my second deployment & I had plenty to keep me busy & I knew my mind wouldn't wonder as much as the first deployment. As time went on we adjusted, not only was he adjusting to his Daddy being gone & our new home (I moved home so I could have help because I was pregnant & [more than likely] having a repeat c-section), but he also had to adjust to having a new baby sister. I remember when Alannah would sleep during her newborn days & Kyler would nap I would just hold him & cry because I felt so awful for not being able to give him all the attention I did before & what thought he deserved. I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was doing my very best to be strong for my husband & to meet all my children's needs. Kyler remembered who his Daddy was, he would point to the pictures all over the house & show me his Daddy, we would watch videos of him & Daddy playing & he was even able to see him on webcam a few times but he was too young to really understand it so it didn't keep his attention long. I know this time will be different because he is older, he understands more now & the deployment is much longer. He really is quite an amazing little boy. He isn't even 3 years old yet & has been through more in his little life than most grown adults have. Our daughter Alannah was born 3 1/2 months after Paul left & she was 3 1/2 months old when she finally met her Daddy on February 28, 2009, now she is almost 18 months old (21 months when he leaves) & preparing for her second deployment as well. He will be deployed for her 2nd birthday & will get home just in time for her 3rd birthday. It's really quite mind baffling to think that Lana will be Kyler's age now when her Daddy can hold & kiss her once again & Kyler will be 4 1/2 & probably in preschool when he returns from Afghanistan. Sometimes it's hard for me to think that far ahead & wonder how much different life will be for us & other days it seems like a pretty natural part of my thought process. Some nights (like tonight & this morning, it's 5am & I'm still awake) I literally cannot sleep because I think of how much my husband will miss in the 13 months he is at War; Thanksgiving 2010, Christmas 2010, New Years 2011, Valentine's Day (which isn't that big of a deal, but it's special to us because he proposed to me on Valentine's Day 2004), my 26th birthday, our 7 year anniversary, Kyler's 4th birthday, 4th of July & his 28th birthday & those are just every year holidays/celebrations, that isn't including our families birthdays, big events in their lives, or the most important things like being able to watch his children grow & change everyday, to see Kyler on his first day of school & to meet new friends that he makes. I cannot even fathom the thought of being away from my babies that long, not hearing their sweet voices or seeing their beautiful faces everyday, I really would go insane. My heart hurts for him, not because I pity him, I know he is fulfilling his destiny & he loves doing what he does. He knows that what he is doing is making a difference, but when it comes down to it, as much as he proudly signed his name on that line & swore in, no one wants to miss out on so much of their children's lives. I guess that's where sometimes your minds gets overwhelmed, you know the sacrifices you are making are changing or at least helping in someway, but it still hurts, A LOT! I know I am not the only mother of children in this same situation & for that I am grateful, not because I would wish any of the stress, anxiety, depression, arguments, frustrations or any of the other horrible things that can come from going through a deployment (not everything is awful, in a lot of ways our previous deployments have actually helped us grow close & remember to not take our days for granted.) but because there really are other mother's & wives who understand my fears & know what I mean when I tell them I literally sob uncontrollably when I read certain stories, her certain songs, see certain pictures or to be in certain places. I'm so thankful for the support system I have not only that I've found in my family, but in our "Military Family", my friends & the amazing online support that I've found. I can only hope & pray that this deployment that we are preparing for will bring us closer as husband & wife & closer as a family. My biggest fear is being apart so long that we grow so much separately that we grow apart, I've seen it happen several times, I do not want that for myself, my husband or our children. Who does?!!?? I refuse to just survive deployments, I will conquer them!
What I'm trying to say is...