We have 104 more days of this deployment and when people ask, “how much longer?” and hear that Horatio is coming home at the end of July, nearly everyone says it’s not much longer.
I usually nod in agreement, and sometimes I actually do agree with them, but often, it still feels long. Yes, we are more than 80% into this long deployment, so, relative to what we started with, it really isn’t much longer, but sometimes it is hard to keep it in perspective.
We still have 10 plus weeks of school ahead of us, so that means 10 more weeks of making four packed lunches every day, 10 more weeks of helping with homework every day, 10 more weeks of packing up backpacks, signing papers from school, etc…
Then we have 6 more weeks of days to fill, waiting for Daddy to come home.
I signed Bob (8) and Harold (4) up for 4 weeks of day camp to keep them busy and hopefully distract them from the final countdown since they struggle most with their dad’s absence, compared to their older brothers, Zack (13) and Dwight (11). Day camp isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the expense to keep the little ones occupied.
Bob fights the sadness of missing his Daddy every day. When he smiles, I can see that the smile often doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
As hard as it is on a spouse whose partner is deployed, it’s the kids who really suffer. Bob wonders aloud, at least once every week, why his Daddy can’t come home sooner. He’s a smart boy and he knows, intellectually, that his father has a very important job to do and when his turn is over and he can pass it on to the next guy, he will come home, but the knowledge of the facts doesn’t keep the tears away.
Young Harold has begun to grasp the oddity of not having his Daddy at home. He sees his friends’ fathers and always tells them that HIS Daddy is “on the ship.” He says, “I miss my Daddy,” then he turns to me and asks, “when is my Daddy coming home to us?” Today he asked when Horatio will have to leave again, after he comes home. I was happy to tell him that I don’t think that will happen again.
I think the realization of the uniqueness of our family situation, among his peers, came at his preschool’s Daddy and Me Day, which they call, “He and Me Day.” I put on a happy face and carried the flat daddy to the school, where we participated in the celebration, but something changed for Harold that day. He saw all the other daddies and it clicked for him. I regret taking him to school that day. I really wish we’d stayed home.
In the scheme of things, I know everyone is right. When you’ve already done 491 days, 104 doesn’t seem like a lot. But, when you are living it, day in and day out, it’s easy to lose perspective.
Every day is one day closer, but there’s also another long day waiting when the sun comes up. Usually, I can see it for what it is, another day closer, but sometimes it’s hard to see clearly through the fog of my two little boys wondering why THEY can’t have their daddy home… now.