Military life is tough!

24 Nov

By the time my daughter was a year old, she had been to three different countries and the entire Eastern Time zone.  See, her Daddy was a military man and we traveled; a lot! Life in the military was always a blessing even though at times it was very difficult.  Just Plane Dad was gone for months on end and while most times I didn’t have to worry about his safety as those serving during wartime do now, he was still traveling to foreign countries that didn’t always want the American’s around, some of which were struggling with their own civil wars. 

Soldier bringing flowers to his family
Oftentimes, he would leave under the cover of darkness to some obscure, I didn’t need to know, location and I’d wait for that first phone call telling me where in the world he was now.  His frequent travel worked wonders on our marriage as absence does make the heart grow fonder. 

Both of us would look forward to some time away from each other and of course to coming back home.  Who doesn’t like “haven’t seen you in two months” lovemaking?  Our entire life together was built around the military and its expectations. We didn’t question it; we accepted it for the lifestyle that it was.  We were a proud Air Force family doing our thing!

Fast forward five years and Beloved makes her grand entrance.  She shows up one day, grabs hold of our hearts and something changes when that next TDY phone call comes.  Suddenly, it’s an imposition and a burden to leave. Who walks away from the smell of a freshly bathed baby? 

Gosh, I love that smell.  Once you have a baby, the absences that you once prayed for now seem like the longest of days.  As a military spouse, I did my best to take over running the household.  I also did my fair share of complaining, mostly about having to hold down the fort and the pets and the baby.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed getting time alone with Beloved, she was the cutest baby on the planet, but it is hard to handle all aspects of parenting yourself.  Every small quick task is more difficult with a baby strapped to your breast waist.  I loved it but I was tired.  If I had stopped my pity party long enough, I might have realized that while some things did suck, it was nothing compared to the pain that my hubby went through without his family. 

I got to hold our precious girl every night and he got to see her in photos.  This was before we’d heard of a little thing called Skype.  I got to watch her first roll, first giggle, first pee pee in the potty; things a Dad misses when his job demands traveling the world with a military plane.  Phone calls, letters and 35mm pictures had to sustain Just Plane Dad yet he never once complained.  I know that he hated being away, missing those small cute milestones, having his heart live 5000 miles away.

Men and women [not this woman, but some] are able to sacrifice their personal happiness with their children to protect our rights [my rights] to be with mine.  It takes an amazing soul to selflessly put stranger’s needs ahead of your own.  Thank a military member the next time you see them at the grocery, they are struggling inside, I promise you.

After three years of raising Beloved in a home that didn’t always include her father, I pulled the plug. Well that’s my interpretation of what happened.  I didn’t want to raise her alone and more importantly I didn’t want her dad to hurt from being without her and have regrets later.   Scary, particularly for this military brat who had never known civilian life, but ultimately the right decision. 

Just Plane Dad likes to make me feel better by saying that we decided together to leave that life behind, but I know he was torn.  Not because his priority was anywhere besides with his daughter, but because he was good, really good, at his job and knew how important he was to the team.  He didn’t want to disappoint any of us; I’m glad I won.

Fourteen years later, it’s very rare that any of us spend time away from each other, we have attended all important events and holidays and our family bond is stronger than ever.  We do wax nostalgic about the good ‘ole military days with great respect and fondness and they did form the people we are today…but nothing beats having your family unit intact.  Pray for our military members and their families; military life is tough.

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

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