I never thought much about being a solo parent before my husband joined the military. I always assumed that when we would have kids, he would be there. He would be there for the pregnancy, the first year, the terrible twos and everything else.
However, that isn’t what happened. He was deployed when my 2nd son was born and didn’t come home from that deployment until he was almost a year old.
Because of that long deployment, my husband missed the 1st year of my son’s life. He missed him starting to roll over and become mobile. He missed him crawling and saying his first words. He missed starting solid food and learning to stand.
He missed so much because the 1st year of your baby’s life is filled with a lot of firsts. That year is such a special one and my husband experienced everything through photos and minimal videos.
The truth is, deployments happen whether you have babies or not. As a military spouse, you have to accept this and make the best of everything. The challenge comes with wanting them to be home and wanting to cherish your baby’s first year.
This isn’t easy and it can be difficult to find the balance between the two. How can you fully embrace your current life when a big part of that is missing, overseas in a war zone?
How do you not rush through all of your baby’s 1st? How do you make the best of things when their dad is away?
1) Document everything- Take photos, videos and a lot of notes. Send them weekly. Your baby is going to change a lot week by week. Your spouse will want to see them grow.
You could make a scrapbook or simply send the photos. You could also just post them online if your spouse can see them. I know my husband loved seeing all the photos I sent during the deployments. Don’t forget to send photos with you in them too. Your spouse would love to see those as well.
2) Journal- Journaling is the best thing to do during a deployment. You want to have a place to go to get out everything you are feeling. About your mood, about your day and what you are dealing with on a regular basis.
In your journal, you can include information about your baby. You can always read this part to your spouse after they come home or include some of it in a letter to him. Journaling will help you get your feelings out and that is a big part of going through a deployment.
3) Keep Perspective- Keeping perspective is the hardest thing to do when you are going through a difficult time. Yes, you miss your spouse and it totally sucks that they are gone and missing your baby’s first year.
However, you get to be with your baby. You get to see everything. You get to be apart of it all and you get to be the one to help your spouse experience some of what they are missing back home.
Remember, deployments won’t last forever and most people do not have to experience such a long deployment like I had to. Yes, your husband is missing a lot right now but he will be home and be able to make memories with you and your children again soon. Remember that.
4) Stay Busy- I know staying busy is the most common advice you can get about surviving a deployment but it’s so true. The busier you are, the more time will fly. Just keep busy doing fun activities that your children enjoy.
If you have older children, make plans for them and bring your baby along. If the baby is your only child, make plans to go to playdates and walks to get out of the house. Find other mom friends and try to work on yourself as you can. Staying busy with your baby will help you enjoy that first year but also allow time to pass so your spouse will be home with you again.
Missing a lot of their child’s first year is hard for service members. It can also be hard on the parent who is at home. Wanting to enjoy that first year fully but also wanting the year to go by so they can get back to regular family life. This isn’t easy and one of those things military spouses have to deal with during their years as a military family.