I know that many families have it worse than we do. I know that some kids are born without their daddies there and others spend years of their life with their parent deployed to another part of the world. So I want to make it clear that I'm not throwing a pity party for myself. My husband is usually gone no longer than 30 days at a time and I know many military spouses would probably trade places for a schedule like that.
However, my children don't know the difference. To them, a deployment is a deployment - no matter the length. All they know is that Daddy was home for a little more than week, and now he's gone again. I'm not sure why, but this time - the third time - has been the hardest on them. Bad behavior, acting out... yes, that's tough to deal with as a single parent. But the most difficult thing to deal with, for me personally, is watching my children feel a sense of loss without their Daddy around.
Several times tonight, my 3.5-year-old was staring off into space, and then her lip would tremble and tears would fill her eyes. I asked her what was wrong, and she could barely hold herself together to tell me, "I miss my Daddy." Last night, I found my 5-year-old sobbing in my bed because she wanted her Dad to come home. You should have seen the pure joy on her face when I told her that Daddy was going to be taking some time off when he comes home - that he won't have to work for over a week and he can spend it all with her. She threw her arms around my neck and said, "Oh, thanks Mom!"
So no matter how long a parent has to be gone - whether it's a week, a month, or a year - the kids hurt either way. If you know a family with a parent serving, please tell them you appreciate it. Check in on mom or dad to see if they could use some help or a few hours of babysitting. Take the kids to do something special. And send some prayers, good energy, and positive thoughts their way.
To my husband and wonderful father of my children, I love you. And so do your girls.