I am writing this for the many parents who are facing their child’s first deployment. Parents have been sending emails and asking “How do you stay sane while your son is deployed?”
First and foremost ~ I am not sure that I was sane before he left. Therefore, I am simply at a different state of La-La land living. (That sentence would make perfect sense if you could climb in my head)
Coping with my L’il Trooper at war is a daily challenge. I have learned from his past deployments to avoid most media outlets. No more do I sit in front of the TV 24/7, afraid of turning away and missing something important.
In the past, when I heard of a Soldier being killed, I would hyperventilate while searching the Internet for details. A knock on the door (by anyone) while I was trying to make certain that my son was ok, would have caused a complete breakdown.
To be perfectly honest, the panic attacks still happened while he is away as do the burst of anger, the tears for no known reason…
…And I did not get over the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach (the feeling that I had lost him forever) until he came home on his first mid deployment leave.
That is when I was finally able to rationalize: They leave, they come home, they leave, they come home… But always… THEY COME HOME!
I had to focus on the reunions and avoid letting the fears overwhelm me.
It is not easy, I have had many nights when I was awakened with horrible nightmares.
Times when I was sure he was calling out to me.
… I know it sounds bad, but honestly, we tend to make it much worse than it really is.
Parents who are facing this for the first time have asked if it gets any easier. Yes, it has for me.
I still miss him like nobodies business… But, I seldom have melt-downs anymore.
I have learned to make myself incredibly busy, so that my mind does not have time to wander, time to imagine the worst.
And when I am really low, I find another parent and we talk it out.
Lean on us, we are here for you!
Laughter ~ Seriously is the best medicine! Find things to help you laugh and don’t feel guilty that you are enjoying life while your child is at war.
My son would be really upset if he thought I put my life on hold and am sitting here crying and worrying day in and day out.
I am not suggesting that you stop thinking about your child (that would be an impossible task). I am suggesting that you think about the funny times you had together. Plan for your child’s Christmas package, your child’s Halloween goody bag, your child’s return party…
Drop in at the local elementary schools and ask if they would like to draw pictures or write letters for your child’s unit.
Stop in where you bank and ask one of the bank officers if you could leave a large poster board at the bank for customers and bank employees to write well wishes to your child’s unit.
Use your imagination… Every little thing you do to get the community involved makes you feel better, makes those who participate feel good, and brings a smile to your child.
A few months ago I sent out a request for email messages of support for my son. I posted the request on message boards, at church, and to those on my email addy book.
I was able to print out over 100 emails, some with pictures. I put them in a scrap book that I decorated with stickers and fun notes and sent it to my son.
He was amazed! The email from Ted Nugent and his crew was an added bonus.
What I am trying to say, is take your mind off of the uglies by doing something positive.
Also, be sure to send your child happy goofy mail. Things that will make them laugh.
I love sending cartoon movie packages with popcorn, movie candy, and drink mixes. When I sent the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie I added a Ninja Turtle action figure.
When I send toiletries I throw in a Scooby-doo tooth brush and a little ducky wash cloth.
They like to laugh about which parent sends the oddest things. I think I am winning!
(his next box will have a giant size Sombrero from our trip to San Antonio. ) It will look so nice with his Sponge Bob boxer shorts!
If our kids can find ways to laugh in the war zone, then certainly we can muster a grin here at home.