Megan welcomed her husband home from deployment AND a new baby boy into the world within hours of each other last week. But before she did, she drafted this beautiful post - a love letter to her almost-two-year-old daughter.
It’s been just me and you for a few months now. That day in May last year I was completely scared, worried and anxious when we first started down this road, the road without Daddy around. The road where I thought, “This might be the last time I see my husband” and “How do people make it through this?”. I look back at photos of sweet little 14 month old you and realize you didn’t smile or laugh once that day. You knew didn’t you? Knew we were starting down a road that was totally foreign to all of us. It is incredible what little ones pick up on.
We stood under the large awning covering a cold, concrete courtyard where your Dad's office buildings surrounded us, nervously laughing with other spouse, parents, girlfriends and kids. We tried to pay attention to the ceremony before the buses pulled up, but we all knew the ceremony meant the time to say goodbye was next. How do you listen to a little voice on a scratchy microphone giving instructions when all you can think about it “Is this really the last time my family will all be together until next year or forever”? and other things like, “This is the last time will ever be together just as we are right now”, because you know anything can happen in a deployment. You will experience things you didn’t expect, grow in ways you didn’t even mean to and then have to learn to fall together again after so much has happened.
Recently, a friend confessed to me they had never thought of that before- the fact that “homecoming” might be hard. That each person in the family had changed. That it isn’t always cupcakes, roses and sunshine. That sometimes it’s cold shoulders, feeling far away still despite standing next to each other again, long nights, hard days and more.
It wasn’t easy while he was gone. I sat up more nights worrying about fevers, coughs and “oh-my-gosh-it’s-2am-what-do-I-do-if-something-really-is-wrong?” more times than I imagined. Oh, I wanted your Daddy there to sit with me and calm me down, but I learned to move through it (and eventually, not google every single symptom).
I checked and re-checked that bills were paid, things around the house were taken care of, the car was in good shape, we were eating somewhat balanced meals, the dog went out, I was staying on top of work, and more. All while also worrying about your Daddy.
I grew as a parent. You were 14 months when he left and you will turn 2 a couple weeks after he comes home. And what a chatty, independent and funny almost 2 year old you are. I am learning more about you, your sassy ways and sneaky grins, when you are scared, embarrassed, nervous or just need a hug. I know when you are playing around and when you really are struggling or acting out. Your Daddy will have to learn these things about you and even more so, how to respond.
Sweet daughter, we have learned to lean on each other for so much, even though you are so small. If you think Momma is sad or worried you quickly offer an “It’s ok Momma” and a pat or laying of your head on my shoulder. My tenderhearted girl who is already learning how to comfort and nurture before the age of 2. I’ve seen you try to be strong and hold back worry if you think your Momma is worried. You are so brave, just like the other military kids around you who learn at so young an age to be brave.
I didn’t always get it right over these past few months. We watched more tv than I ever planned on allowing (because sometimes we were in survival mode). We ate pizza on Friday nights (for our sanity) and because Daddy always wants pizza on Friday nights. (Yes, they have Pizza Hut in Afghanistan, but I hear it isn’t quite the same over there.) I wasn’t always patient, didn’t always hold back tears, probably let some things slide that Daddy won’t, but I never held back love. I never held back holding you when you were sad or sick. I never wanted you to think you had to be brave or alone or without a parent who loves you more than life itself.
Being your Momma has changed me. Being your Momma without Daddy around (while worrying about Daddy) has changed me. I know he will have to adjust to that when he comes home just as I will have to adjust to “sharing” you with him again. It won’t just be me and you on the couch on Friday nights, won’t be just us going for walks, cooking dinner, going out to our favorite coffee shop to share a sandwich and cookie, walking around Target searching for Paw Patrol toys. But it also just won’t be me and you when we are sick, tired, scared, worried, stressed or even happy. We will have someone to share in our joys and sorrows with us and we can’t wait!
Here we are now, at the end. And guess what little one? We made it.
I am so excited to see your Daddy’s face when he sees what a big girl you are, hear him laughing at your silly stories and songs, rock you to sleep at night and take you on special Daddy/Daughter adventures.
We are excited for homecoming and a little anxious too, if we are being honest. We will be learning about each other again after months apart and it will require more bravery and unknowns as we navigate the changes. More than anything, we want you to know you have a Mommy and Daddy who love you more than you will ever know no matter where we are called to be in the world.
We can’t wait to all be under one roof again. We know your Daddy can’t wait to kiss you each night before bed and hug you each morning when you wake with joy to see a new day!