Our youngest child is 3 years old.
He has spent approximately 21 months of his 36 months of life without his father around. Deployments and training for deployments and more deployments have made this one of the more difficult facts to stomach as a military wife. Especially when the first 12 of those 21 months happened to be the majority of Baby Man’s 1st year of life. Daddy left when he was 8 weeks old and returned when he was 14 months old (with a 2 week R&R at about 7 months old).
I worried. I spent so many nights worrying. What would this separation do to their relationship long term? How would it impact his sense of security? How would he interact with his father once he was home again? He transitioned very easily after the 2010 deployment, and I was so relieved.
This last deployment he was a bit older. But still not old enough to really understand what was going on, why Daddy was leaving, or when he would be coming back.
And so, I worried all over again.
What would this mean, for both of them, in the long term?
Well, from observation the last two months here is what it seems to mean:
It means Daddy is Baby Man’s favorite person on the whole planet.
(And I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.)
It means Baby Man treasures every.single.second he gets to spend with his Daddy.
(Sadly, this is because he doesn’t seem to know when/if Daddy is going to suddenly disappear for a Very Long Time.)
It means the first thing upon waking each morning he says “Hey Mama, where’s Papi?”
(We always used “Daddy”, but Vi used “Papa” and it has evolved in to 99% of the time a blended version of the two, “Papi”.)
It means our littlest man has rapidly developed quite a few tricks in attempts to keep Papi in his sight At. All. Times.
(And not just in his sight, but often in his arms with their cheeks smushed together followed by repetitive proclamations of “Papi, I looooove you! Papi!! I LOOOOOOVE YOOOOOUU!!”)
It means that all day, every day, every hour or two I hear “Hey Mama, when Papi coming back? He go school or he go work?”
(In other words, he has learned “work” is bad, but “school” means Papi comes home for dinner.)
It means each evening when Papi does finally return home from school, the reunion is nearly as joyous as our Thanksgiving Day.
It means there is no such thing as too many games of trains or Darth Vader vs. Storm Troopers or Fruit Ninja.
It means only Papi is allowed to brush the baby’s teeth. Or get him ready for bed. Or read him a story. Or put him to bed.
It means there are never too many hugs or kisses or cuddles.
It means my boy…..well…..he’s a Daddy’s Boy.
And I’m ok with that.
Every morning, our littlest boy comes in our room and climbs up in bed to start the day with cuddles. He spends the rest of his morning trying to convince Daddy that he doesn’t REALLY need to go to school.
Watching the two of them makes me the happiest Mama on this earth.