Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missing Daddy

My kids missing Daddy is the biggest concern we had when preparing for this deployment. This deployment is different than the previous ones because my husband is on the ground in Afghanistan, all the previous deployments found one of us on board an aircraft carrier. Since we didn't know exactly what the communication situation would be while he was away we had to be sure that there would be ways for our youngest (ages 4 and 1) to keep Daddy close.
Before my husband deployed he took time to read some of their favorite books on DVD. We set up the camcorder and he read the book and talked about it on camera. This is great because anytime our kids want to see Daddy I can pop in the DVD and he can 'read' them a book. When I was deployed on the USS Roosevelt this was available through the public relations department. When my husband last deployed on the USS Eisenhower they did not offer this program so we took it as a lesson learned and planned ahead this time around.
There are also little things I have done to help the kids cope with Daddy being gone. To ensure that they do not think he has left forever I have kept a towel on his towel rack, his coat still hangs by the front door, his shoes are still out, and his coffee cup still sits by the coffee maker. His toothbrush is even there waiting for his return. My son (age 1) will point to these things and ask 'Daddy?" It is nice to know he knows these things are Daddy's.
They have done very well with this deployment so far. We are currently about halfway done with this deployment and they seem to be adjusting well. We are very thankful to have Skype this time around. My husband took my laptop with him and has Internet in his bunk room so we can talk often. It is expensive to have his Internet service, but it has proven to be well worth the cost.  We have even 'had dinner' with Daddy.
Young kids have such short term memories that it is important to provide constant reminders that Daddy (or Mommy) will be back. It is also important for them to see their parent often, in pictures, video, or online. My daughter sleeps with a picture of her and her Daddy every night. There are also other ways to keep them remembering Daddy other than in a visual sense. Every once in a while I will spray his cologne around the house while they are sleeping. I have no idea if this has any effect on them, but I know it helps me feel better and I like to think that it will keep that scent alive for them.
It's the little things that they notice. As the spouse left home I need to do everything I can to keep their memories alive; to help ensure a smooth transition when Daddy returns. Keeping their memories alive is one way to do that.

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