Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bonding With Your Kids While Deployed

So here we are, at roughly the halfway mark of the 9 month deployment.  I don't let the kids know how far we've gone or how much time we have left.  I just leave that alone...it's just easier that way.  They know Daddy is still there, just that he's working in another country!  I remember when I deployed & left Hunter with his grandparents from ages 2-3 it was hard.  I was worried we wouldn't be able to keep our close bond.  As a single mother he was all I had, and I was all he had.  We had that bond & it was rough on him when I was gone.  He had some mood swings but overall he was a loving, caring two year old!  My parents raised him perfect, and when I got him back it was like I had never left.  He loved me just the same.

This deployment is different.  I'd say that as long as your child is under two the deployment seems easier.  The older kids usually go through these various mood swings.  There are nights where they yell, nights where they cry, days where they just hate the world.  It is rough.  No amount of prayer, lessons, or cuddles seems to help.  They just seem lost and confused...abandoned.  At age 7 they can't really explain what's going on, so they lash out in anger.  Hunter will be the most loving boy, but then a switch can go off and he's yelling at me and storming off.  He doesn't get physical, just emotional, but sometimes that's just as bad.  We've decided that he has to have more ways to communicate with his Daddy.  I made him an email address that is monitored through mine.  He's able to get on it after I check, to make sure his emails are only from Daddy & other family members.  He LOVES having his own emails from Daddy & it helps him with his typing and writing skills.  He's very proud of each email he writes.

Our youngest painting for Daddy
 Another dilemma you have while a parent is deployed is how does that deployed parent really show their love?  You see, mail is scarcely picked up where my husband is currently at, so getting hand-written letters from his Dad is something that may/may not happen.  We've just decided to work on what we send to Daddy, but you know there's always that "where's mine" feeling...where's the love from Daddy to me?

One of the many pieces of art Daddy has received

Well, I know it's bad but we've discovered in the past that physical items allow him to realize how much his Daddy loves him.  No matter how big or small, he gets excited to just know Daddy is thinking about him.  His main source of excitement lately has been some of Daddy's old books.  Hunter LOVES to read...it's one of his favorite activities.  It's great because his Dad & I both love to read too!  We have all sorts of books in our house, and he will pick up any book he finds and starts reading.  He even writes his own books. He loves writing books to his Daddy telling him how much he loves and cares about him, and just knowing that he made his Dad's day with those stories is all the approval he needs.  He doesn't care if he misspelled words, or he forgot punctuation.  He knows Daddy will love it because it's from him.

During my deployment Hunter went to a Preschool that I actually attended when I was his age.  It was perfect for my parents, and they were very understanding of our situation.  He got extra love from Miss Robin and it still makes me tear up just remembering how much she truly loved and cared about him.  She would let him cuddle on her to fall asleep at naptime, because she knew he was missing those moments with Mommy.  Well, one of the days Hunter apparently shoved a seashell up his nose on the playground.  It was a very small one and they couldn't get him to blow it out.  My brother, Dad & Mom all got phone calls to try and get to the school so they could remove it.  I believe my brother was the one who was there when he finally was able to get it out!  Guess what I got mailed to me in Iraq, in one of those little plastic tooth chests?  Yup, the seashell.  It is still on my bookshelf...just one of those things you hold onto, not because of the monetary significance, but because of the story.

videoMy husband still holds onto his first Father's Day cards from the kids.  It was huge for him, he was in his 30s, a combat veteran, divorced man, who was hoping one day to have a family but wasn't getting his hopes up too high.  If it happened it happened.  Well, for a guy who seems all tough let me tell you...when he got those first cards he was teary eyed.  He is such an emotional and loving father that it makes me love him so much more.  He's a great man, and I know he's worried about his bond with his kids.  I know he's worried that his baby girls, who were 11 months & 26 months when he deployed, are going to forget him.  It's his biggest fear.  It's not a fear of mine, because I get to see their love for him each day.  I get to see how much they love hanging out with him, sleeping with their Daddy Doll & blanket.

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