= 38 months or 3 years, 2 months.
This is how long my husband was gone on deployments. This does not count any of the other times he has been gone for non-deployment reasons.
WOW! Almost 3.5 years? I can’t even wrap my mind around that. I can’t. Looking back, we got through it. Sometimes just one hour at a time but we did it.
Sometimes I still break down over what he missed.
He missed so much. He kissed our 3-week old boy goodbye after meeting him just 2 weeks earlier and he did not see him again until he was almost one. He missed the whole first year of his life. That is a lot of time. If you have a baby, you know how different a 3 week old is from an 11-month-old. You know everything they go through in that time. All the stages and changes. My husband got to experience all of that through photos. That’s it. Just photos.
He said to me once that it was a weird feeling. Knowing you had a son out there that you loved but didn’t know at all. That broke my heart.
Was it worth it? I don’t know. I really don’t.
I don’t like to think about that. I don’t want to think about the politics of why he was there because it hurts too much. He joined the Army and did his job and THAT is why he was gone.
He has missed so much and for an involved father like him, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I have been away from my boys for 10 days at the longest and I was SO ready to get back to them.
His first deployment was 15 months long. It was extended. It should have been shorter. He came home for R&R to be with me for the birth of our child but got there a few days late. That was okay. I was able to handle that but I knew I wanted him there for any future babies we were going to have. I didn’t want to have to give birth without my husband again.
To add to things, my husband didn’t join the Army until our oldest son was 13 months old. He didn’t miss anything with him. He was there for the pregnancy, the labor, the birth, the newborn months, watching him learn to roll, to sit, to stand.
Knowing that he got to experience that with my now 11-year-old and not with the 9-year-old still makes me tear up.
I think about the wives of soldiers during WW2. My Grandpa was gone for three years. They didn’t have kids at the time but other soldiers did. Can you imagine leaving you 2-year-old and seeing them again when they were 5? With only letters to get by? I can’t. That makes what we went through seem a lot easier.
I know we can’t beat ourselves up for all that he missed. We just can’t. It comes with Military life. It is normal for them to miss things. Other Military spouses get it. They have been through it as well. They understand how hard it can be too.
There are things you can do to make the distance a little easier. You can talk on video chat, send a lot of photos, talk on the phone, send care packages, etc. But at the end of the day, it is not the same as having them live in the same house with you and your children day after day.
As a Military spouse, you have to come to a place of accepting that your spouse will miss part of your kid’s childhood. You can’t always plan when they will be home. You can’t make sure that they will be there when you have a baby, when your child walks for the first time, when they start Kindergarten or when they graduate from high school. You might have to be there without them, take a few videos and some photos and share them with your spouse that way. You accept all of this as a part of Military life.
You can hope and pray that they won’t miss too many important things. They will be home sometimes. They will not be gone for all of their Military careers. Remember that when you feel frustrated about how much they have missed.
Think about the times you have had together, the experiences you have had because you are a Military family and the good that can come from standing by your spouse as they go through their Military career.