So tonight, I had to punish my daughter for something that she should have known better not to do. Granted, she's only four. Some things, she needs to be told is wrong first--like taking your arts and crafts basket down without permission. Others, she should already just know--like climbing onto your desk and pulling down the hutch on top whilst letting all of the (fragile) things that are organized on it crash to the floor. *Sigh*
Whether it be wrong or right, after we cleaned up the chaos in her room, I sent my daughter to bed early without supper. (Later, I caved and brought her in a big glass of milk.)
It was a hard night for us; but truthfully, it has been a really hard week. Her attitude has been really firey towards me, she has become exceedingly difficult to reason with, and her blantant acts of misbehavior really have me worried. At the end of every night (including tonight at milk-time) we are able to have a really good heart-to-heart. Every single night she tells me she misses her daddy.
I wish I would have been better prepared for this kind of reaction...in fact, I should have known better.
I felt like we were so prepared for this deployment with Sammi. Months before my husband left, we sat down and explained it to her, and we talked about it a lot all the months leading up to him being gone. We watched the Elmo movie. We have the Daddy Doll. We made a bulletin board full of pictures of just her and Daddy for her room. My husband even recorded bedtime books for them the night before he left--and supplemented them with more that we got on Thanksgiving Day. (Thank you, Darling!) We cross days off on a calender every night and we Skype regularly.
But even with all of the preparations and stuff we gave Sammi to comfort her, I should have known that they would never be able to replace Daddy. Even with all of the understanding she has of the situation, I should have known that she would still worry about him as much as I do. The big thing is, as much good as we did for her this time around, I should have known that she was still going to horribly miss her father. I should have known that!!
And while we're on the topic of "what I should have already known," I should have known that this deployment was going to be harder on me than I thought it was.
My husband has done plenty of schools and classes where we have had to stay behind. He has even been gone for about 8 months before. I had it in my mind that this separation was going to be a lot like those, only with a little more distance in between us. I should have known better!
I thought that I would be able to handle any issues at home with grace. If something broke, I would call someone to fix it instead of breaking down myself. Then it happens two months in---I should have known better!
I thought that I would be able to busy myself with little home projects and crafts at night-time so I wouldn't lose any sleep. I should have known better!
I thought I could busy myself and the kids with a hundred different activities a month so that this deployment would fly by. Well, I'm exhausted and it hasn't been nine months yet. I should have known better!
I thought that the support system I have here would be enough to keep me chipper. And while they have been nothing but wonderful for me, I still really REALLY miss my husband. I should have known better!
So now that I have had the benefit of a little added experience, let's see how the learning curve stacks up for me...
-Your children are going to miss their father. Everyone told you that you would have to be both "mother" and "father" for your child...they were wrong. You can only be mommy. They have a daddy who is doing an amazing job of parenting from half a world away, but as awesome as he is, he still can't be there to hold his children like they want him to. That's going to be hard. If they are younger, they won't know how to handle these emotions and will probably act out. Mom is probably going to freak out. We will probably resort to bribery of good behavior with icecream and brownies. (Not perfect, but it works!)
-Deployments are different than any field assignment...even if you are used to being separated for months at a time. Field assignments are practice. Deployments are the real deal. I realize now that even though I talk to my husband nearly every day, I still don't know what he does over there--as was our agreement. Some things are better left unsaid. But now is the hard part of understanding that I will go almost a whole year and know only minimal details about my husband's daily life. All I can do is trust in his abilities and trust in God to take care of him. I realize now that I have no idea how the heck I am going to cope when my husband is actually serving under his MOS instead of working staff. I also realize that as much as I wish my husband would just stay in the stinkin' FOB, he is never going to.
-When stuff breaks, women break down. I can handle a grocery store meltdown with the best of them. If the toilet overflows, I am going to flip my freakin' lid.
-Nighttimes are going to be hard--no way around it. They are just going to be, and they are for everyone. When I had DIY projects, I was so excited to finish them, I stayed up all night working on them. And since I lost so much sleep completing them, I burned right through them and now I have nothing to do. If you have ever checked your Facebook page for an hour at 2am even though no one you know has been online for the last 3 hours, then know that you are not alone!!
-It is better to have something to do every day to help pass the time. It is not so smart to have nine things to do in a single day with two preschoolers, even if you have a handful of chaperones to help you along. Some days will be easier than others and seem to fly by. Other days, your four-year-old will pull her desk hutch down in the middle of a playdate and that single night will feel like it lasted an entire week.
-I love my friends. My friends are amazing. But they are not my best friend. And I love my family. They too are amazing. But I have begun a new family with my best friend. As much as I love my friends and family, they are not my husband. They will make me smile and laugh, but I am still ALWAYS going to be wishing he was with me in the back of my mind.
What I now know more than ever is that I don't know it all. I don't have all the answers. Right now, I don't think I have any. But I know, somehow, I am going to figure it out!! And even if I don't, I know we will still survive.