No one said this would be easy, but no one said it would be this hard. A general statement for a whole variety of things that come up in a lifetime. For me, it applies to dropping Sean off at the airport this morning. To go back. To be gone for a bit longer. To be missed immeasurably more. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I sure didn't expect it to be that hard.
Two weeks of R&R for a year's worth of deployment; it's not all that different from many vacation policies here in the States. Of course, one usually gets the weekends off and gets to go home every night. Gets to be a live part of milestones like a son's first birthday, or a daughter's first day of school rather than looking at pictures and checking facebook. But not always, and though I'm feeling a little sorry for our family right now, the truth of the matter is that I dropped Sean off at the airport today so he could go back to work. Get back to his career choice that provides for our family. Our family that misses him very much while he's gone.
We did some great things while he was home. Vacationed in the Outer Banks with our entire family - one of the best things we've ever done. Celebrated Sweet Girl's birthday. Hung out at home. Got reacquainted with one another. Sean got to know Little Man who is not much like the infant he left. The kids relished having someone throw them around and having someone to tackle on the living room floor. One of my favorite memories from the past couple of weeks is looking into the living room and seeing Sean on the floor covered in kids and hearing Sweet Girl say "I love you, Daddy." while Little Man tried to wrap his arms around Daddy's bald head. There was a lot of laughing and to be honest, I feel we've been a little light on laughter around here before Daddy got home.
The world gets bigger for my kids when Sean is home. I'm a bit more relaxed. I know that there is another set of hands to take up the family rope. We can do more things, see more sights, accomplish more tasks when there are two adults here. I'm often too intimidated that I won't be able to handle Sweet Girl and Little Man by myself (especially if Sweet Girl is having a bad day) for us to do too many things while Sean is gone. Not to mention that I have more to do at home to keep the kids fed, bathed, and clothed when it's just me. So it was a nice change of pace to be able to say "We can do anything we want today." and actually kinda sorta mean it.
So driving him to the airport (Seriously, a legal form of torture to have to take your loved one somewhere knowing it's the first of many steps to separating him/her from you and yours. There should be a party bus that picks your loved one up and leaves something fun for you in his/her place. Like a pony. Or a masseuse.) with the kids in the backseat was hard. Hearing Sweet Girl say "I'll miss you Daddy." was pretty gut-wrenching. Hugging him curbside pretty much crushed all my resolve and the tears started. Watching him walk through the doors to the terminal just plain old sucked. But I know that we can't be done with this deployment until we start this part of it. And we're amazingly lucky we got to have the time we did. At some point I'll stop crying. I'm about to put the kids in the car to go to Nana and Papa's. And if Sweet Girl would stop asking "Where's Daddy?" I might be able to make the drive tear free. But if not, just disregard the weeping woman. She'll be okay. She knows how lucky she is.