AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Saying goodbye to my three children and walking out the door to head to the airport for deployment was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My heart dropped, eyes swelled and I literally felt my heart breaking. This is my first deployment since having children. I know how hard this was for me, but I can’t imagine what it was like for them. While I recognize the sacrifices they make daily for my service, the Department of Defense recognizes it formally each year in April. This month is designated as the Month of the Military Child.
Established 33 years ago, the Month of the Military Child brings awareness to the service and sacrifice children make to this nation and, it gives us the opportunity to recognize and thank our children for being strong, resilient and understanding throughout our careers.
I knew my deployment would be especially hard for my son. Before I left, he said to me in the saddest, cutest 4-year-old voice, “Mommy, are you going to be gone for a long long time?” After telling him I’d be gone much longer than he’s used to, he cried all the way to daycare.
I’ll never forget what he said to me because it hurt my heart and soul. They were the toughest words I’ve ever heard. He said, “But Mommy, who’s going to give us cuddles and who’s going to take us to the fun place? I don’t want you to leave Mommy.”
I knew then that this was going to be the longest six months of my life. I understood that it would be hard for them because they’d be sacrificing quality time with mommy. I knew they’d miss me more than ever.
I’ve decided that throughout my deployment, I’ll continue to find ways to show just how much I love, care about and am thinking of them to reaffirm their faith that I’ll return home.
Since birth, they’ve relied on me for nearly everything, including cuddles before bed, and while I’m gone, I know that I won’t be able to do that for them and for that, I am sorry.
Military children face challenges that most children don’t. For service members and their families, military duty means sometimes missing life’s most precious moments like holidays and birthdays. It can also mean uprooting their lives to move around the world, requiring them to leave old friends to make new ones.
We ask so much of our military children and expect them to be understanding. In some ways I know it’s unfair to them, but at the end of the day, they love us and know that everything we do for this country, we do to support them.
As for me, my children are my, “why.” They are the reason I choose to continue to serve. I love you and I appreciate your continued support. To my children: Mya, Eli and Jade, Mommy will be home soon.
To military children around the world, thank you for your service and sacrifice to this nation. This is your month - a time to celebrate you and show how much we appreciate all you do to support us.