Nothing makes me cry like a baby more than when my husband says goodbye to our son before deployment. During our last separation, my husband left quietly before dawn. My son and I still sleeping soundly in our own beds, we were oblivious to his stealth disappearance. After waking that morning, the shock of it all hit me.
He was gone on deployment, and it would be some time before we would all be united again. It was incredibly sad, and then I turned on survival mode because my son needed me. He needed a parent to be a parent during this time because I was the only one left.
Deployments are tough no matter how you swing it, but kids take the experience of deployment to a whole new level, sending you on an emotional journey filled with twists and turns and peaks and valleys. Basically, deployment turns you into a sap.
So why are deployments all the so challenging after kids?
1. The goodbyes are heart breaking.
We’ve experienced several separations since our son was born, and I have to say, the goodbyes are a doozie. Our son is too young to truly understand what is about to transpire, but my husband and I know. We know how much we are all going to miss as a family during deployment. We know that deployment will affect their father/son relationship in many ways.
Watching a father say goodbye to his son is precious and entirely overwhelming at the same time. Seriously, it usually feels like the ending of some epic drama film in Hollywood. Everything is slo-mo, the lighting is soft, the music is playing, and we all dramatically hug and say goodbye. Tear.
2. Lack of communication.
Not speaking for an extended period of time makes deployment after kids so hard. We all desperately want to stay connected in any way possible, but sometimes that isn’t realistic. Doing our best to optimize communication, it still never feels like enough. It really is a crummy replacement for the real deal when it comes to kids.
Lack of communication is also incredibly tough when our son wants to talk to his dad and he cannot. It’s difficult to hear a child ask for “Dada” and know you cannot make it happen on demand, even through a phone call.
3. Parenting alone is tough.
I’m not going to lie, parenting alone can be very lonely sometimes. And the whole aspect of ’24/7 on the job’ without another parent to help out is tough. There are many days when I feel like I am screwing this whole parenting thing up, and having another parent would be amazing. Friends and an amazing support network make all the difference in the world, but unfortunately, no one can replace the role of another parent.
4. Kids grow and change dramatically.
Developmental leaps over time will dramatically transform our son before my husband returns. When our family is reunited, my son will almost be a new person capable of a completely new set of skills. It’s hard to watch a child learn and grow so much, knowing one parent is missing out on all of it. We take lots of pictures and videos to capture as much as possible, but again it simply isn’t the same as actually being present for the real thing.
5. Life after reunion is a major adjustment.
Adjusting to life after reunion can take time, especially after kids. Kids take time to adjust and the family reunion is rarely a seamless process. It’s not like the movies where dad returns home, and life is perfect immediately thereafter. In addition to adjusting to life as a married couple together again, it also takes a significant period of time before kids understand what is means to have a two-parent household again.
Deployments after kids really change everything you thought a deployment would be. There is a more dramatic goodbye and reunion, and it is more emotionally challenging during deployment.
Want more on military life?
- 9 Relationship Truths Only a Modern Military Spouse Would Understand
- The One Thing You’ll Miss Most During Deployment
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
- 15 Must-Do Things to Prepare for Deployment