“See you laters” are an integral part of this military lifestyle that we’ve chosen. I made peace with that long ago, when I said “I do” and then “see you later” as my husband left for a six-month deployment.
We have lived in four states and seven houses in our soon-to-be six years of marriage. I’m a self-proclaimed, “See You Later” Expert.
We’ve said it to each other for countless trainings, TDYs and deployments. It’s been a marriage filled of “see you laters,” but somehow this one feels different. I think it’s because while I know I signed up for this, my kids didn’t.
Last year we PCS’ed in the middle of the pandemic. And for this family, that means that our next move is coming up fast. We will be relocating to a different part of Florida for my husband’s new job. And with this new job, we will once again say “see you later” when he leaves for a five month training. It’s the anticipation of this one, especially for the kids, that makes this harder than the rest.
We have been very fortunate the last three years, and my husband hasn’t had to leave for an extended period of time. He has been home since I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and since the birth of our twin boys. I’ve gotten so used to ordinary days that we’re all a little out of “see you later” practice.
The boys are accustomed to Dad working long days or nights and even vacations without him. But this will be the first time that the boys are old enough to understand that daddy’s gone for work, and it’ll be awhile until we see him again. And it’s all happening the same time that we will be moving to a new city without an established community.
The boys always cry when Dad puts his uniform on to go to work, knowing that he has to leave. It breaks my heart a little every time, but I reassure them that he will be home later. But this impending five month separation will be different and even though I know that, my kids are oblivious.
I watch him with the boys at the park, or wrestling on the bed and I think to myself, Man, they’re going to miss this while he’s gone. And by they, I mean all three of them. The boys will miss their dad, but I think what breaks my heart the most is that their dad will miss them more than they can understand.
Kids are resilient. When Dad is gone for 12-hour days or overnights, the boys ask for daddy but two minutes later are on to the next thing. But Dad asks about the boys.
I can feel his heavy heart through the phone that he misses us all a little more than he expected. I can see the sadness when the boys cry for Daddy to come home over FaceTime, and I know that this “see you later” will be the first of many that the boys will have to endure. But don’t worry, all military kids are strong and adaptable.
So what are we going to do? I have no idea.
But I do know that we’re going to root for Daddy at training and be intentional with our “see you laters.” My husband will love on the boys a little harder for a little longer while he can. We’ll spend ample family time together until he leaves and enjoy the little ordinary moments as much as possible.