Dearest Little Ones,
People tell me that my life will change once we bring you home. I have no doubt that they are right. I’ll have to think about things like babysitting before I go to Zumba. Life will require a bit more prep and planning when it comes to getting from point A to point B. For about 6 months a year, I’ll be a single (probably working) parent. That’s sometimes daunting!
But we know you’re worth it. We could wait until your dad is out of the military, but there are lots of good things you’ll benefit from, even if it means that Dad won’t be able to be there for some of your life.
You’ll get 2 parents who are well versed in not taking a moment of life for granted. While your dad isn’t on the front lines, he’s on a boat designed to sink! That’s kinda scary. But he’s part of a highly trained, elite group of sailors. Once they leave, they are all trying to come home safe, so I have confidence that your dad will come back to us every time.
You’ll get 2 parents who understand the value of words. Since the only means of communication we have (even during much of our courtship) are written words, we understand to think before we speak. We understand that, once said, words can never truly be ‘taken back’. They can only (at best) be forgiven. So we’re careful to mean what we say and say what we mean. We understand what it’s like to cling to a few words. We’ve spent years trying to find new ways to say “I love you.” In fact, your mother is a published poet and songwriter!
You might not get to celebrate every holiday with your dad, but you’ll be able to celebrate something very specific to Military Families – Homecoming! Now, I’m not sure how old you’ll be when you find your way to our arms so I’ll set the expectation realistically. If you’ve seen those military homecomings on TV, that’s not the type of homecoming your dad will get. The whole point of his work is to stay silent, so they don’t get recognition in the press like the uniformed members of the military who come home on huge, highly visible ships. There is no hiding that an aircraft carrier came in! Your dad is part of something very special, and it’s our job to make sure his homecomings are awesome. (Though I’m sure just seeing us exceeds that.)
Traditions are valuable. Traditions, big and small, have always helped me feel grounded, no matter what was going on in the world. My parents were great at establishing some really great traditions. My grandmother (your great grandmother – though you’ll never meet her as she passed away nearly 10 years ago) and my mother used to bake cookies together. They moved around a lot when your grandmother (my mother) was a kid. So baking cookies was something they could do together no matter where they were. Sometimes your grandmother and I bake together too, but since we live far apart, I do the baking now. I send the goodies out in care packages to friends and family to cheer them during these colder months. I’m not sure what our traditions will be yet, but I’m sure we’ll discover a few. So far, the only one I’ve made for your dad and I comes from our first Christmas as a married couple.
During our first Christmas, your dad was deployed, so we didn’t get to spend the day together. Our first apartment was so tiny, we didn’t have room for a tree. Your dad asked that I leave the decorations up until after he got home – so instead of a traditional Christmas Tree, I made a 2-D version! I got a large peice of paper, used some water color to paint a Christmas tree on it, and added some stickers as ‘ornaments’. I pinned it to the wall with the tree skirt we picked out the year before and put your dad’s gifts in a wrapped box under it.
After that holiday, I kept the paper tree, thinking that the next time your dad is deployed, he could take it with him and put it up in his rack. I figure each year we’ll add a little something to it. This year, it’ll probably be a note from me and maybe a picture of the 2 dogs we have right now, or our new home, or a picture from our wedding. When you get here, maybe we can add some handprints and a note?
It won’t be easy when your dad is gone, for any of us. But I know we’ll get through those times and learn to thrive through them. They won’t last forever.
Military life isn’t easy. Then again, life in general isn’t always easy and simple. If you’re already in the world, then you have intimate knowledge of this by now. But families are made up of all different walks of life – and with us, there will never be a dull moment. Of that, I’m sure.
So if you’re having a rough time this holiday season, are feeling scared, unsure of what’s going to happen next or if you’ll ever have a forever family, I hope you can feel this hug I’m sending you. Keep the faith. We’re out here getting ready for you. You’re loved.
We are family – you just don’t know it yet.
All my love,