Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to Afghanistan we go!

Posted September 25, 2013

By: Jennifer Pilcher

Pilcher joins 5 other mil-bloggers who, over the next few months, will share their deployment-related stories. You can catch up on all their blog posts on the Blue Star Families Blog and don’t forget to take a look at BSF’s free e-book “Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family and Friends of Service Members During Pre-Deployment, Deployment and Reintegration.”

“My husband leaves on detachment to Afghanistan at the end of the week, on my birthday, again, second year in a row. Happy Freakin’ Birthday to me! I am saying this with a smile and a laugh because military spouses totally get it – of course he would leave on my birthday, again! It’s called Military Murphy’s Law – when your spouse deploys it will be during a holiday, a major natural disaster will occur and at least one major appliance will blow up!

griffpumpkin

The military does not care if it’s your birthday, Christmas, Easter or Halloween; when they are told to go – they go. However, I feel fortunate that his detachments are not as long as many of my military spouses go through, but they are still hard, especially on the kids. We have been married for over 15 years and we have gone through the traditional 6+ month deployments, however now my husband’s schedule is different, going away more often but usually not more than 3 months at a time. These are called detachments and for a kid, they can be just as long in their mind as a “deployment.” For a child – when mom or dad are not home and away serving our country – it can feel like a lifetime. A pediatrician once explained to me the difference about how children feel time versus adults. He said, “remember when you were a child and summer vacation felt like forever?” Kids feel time differently than we do. My 7 and 10 year old do not think of daddy being gone only 2-3 months, they think he has missed their entire soccer season. My children love Halloween almost as much as Christmas and they are sad that he is missing Halloween, again, since he was in Afghanistan for this same time period last year.

The “Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family and Friends of Service Members During Pre-Deployment, Deployment and Reintegration” e book has an excellent section for Pre-deployment and I have been reading the areas about deployment and children. “Be as candid as possible” is the subtitle of the chapter on Communication: Child . My husband and I do talk to the kids about where he is going, why he is going and when he will be back. My 7 year old asked,” could he just fly back for Halloween and then fly right back again to Afghanistan?” These are the thoughts in a child’s head, so I need to remind myself, while I am grateful the detachment is not longer, and honestly I don’t think Halloween is that big of a deal, it is a big deal for my children.

So the kids and I will do our normal routine of our favorite corn maze farm, visit with family, go to all the Navy home games and be surrounded by our incredible neighbors in our annual Halloween neighborhood trick or treat. I will try to keep them smiling, even though I know they will be missing their dad. Me too.”