I’ll never forget when my Air Force husband told me he was being assigned to temporary duty overseas — for a year. My world was crumbling around me.
I was pregnant with our third baby, and Bruce was scheduled to be deployed several months later.
I was relieved he’d be here to witness our daughter’s birth, at least. But I was terrified of all the responsibilities that would be left to me, including taking care of two dogs, a house and three kids — ages 6, 4 and a newborn. I was scared about how much I'd miss him in all aspects of our life.
It was overwhelming.
But here we are — well past the halfway point. It’s been eight months since we’ve seen Bruce. Eight months since we’ve felt his hug. Eight months since I’ve seen baby Eva Lou — or our other two kids, Vera and Calvin — in his arms.
You don’t often realize how much kids change until you are in this sort of situation. I look back at pictures taken right before my husband left, and it seems like a lifetime ago.
We’re doing really well, though. We’ve found our new normal and I’m extremely proud of us. It sure hasn’t been easy.
Hard days were made better because of FaceTime. Thanks to that, he’s still able to be supportive and play an active role in parenting. I hand the phone to the kids when they're acting up and I need a break. It's also just great to see his face and let him see and interact with Eva Lou; Vera can sit and tell him about her days. I've even set the phone up so he can watch Calvin play trains.
Family and friends have also played a large role in helping us find our feet. I always have someone to talk to; someone always helps keep me busy; and someone is always there ready to offer a helping hand.
But still, we miss him like crazy.
We recently found out when he’ll be home to visit — and it’s so soon! We’ve been waiting and counting down the days. My kids can hardly contain themselves. They constantly ask me questions and beg to know when he will be home. He’s the main topic around here these days.
“Can you believe daddy is coming home?”
“I am going to actually see daddy again!”
They ask me what I miss most about Bruce. Before I’m able to answer, they chime with their own ideas.
“I miss his hair and his voice in real life!”
“I miss his big muscles. I can’t wait to squeeze them!”
They’re also already planning on what they’ll do with daddy when he gets home.
“We get to wrestle!”
“Mommy, when daddy comes home, you can go off and nurse Eva Lou and clean as much as you want, and we can just go play with daddy! Isn’t that cool?”
The most precious comments have come about their baby sister, who hasn’t seen Bruce since she was 3 months old. Of the three, she has obviously changed the most.
“You get to meet your daddy again, Eva Lou!”
I feel like my heart might explode from hearing my kids squeal with such excitement.
I’ve heard saying goodbye will be harder the second time around, but it will be worth getting these precious few weeks together. And we’re holding on to the fact that this isn’t forever. All this separation will be over sooner than we realize.
Until then, we’re doing our best to enjoy the present before Bruce returns home for good and we set out on whatever adventure the military throws our way next.
Jessica Schultze wrote this guest blog for Momaha.com. She and her husband are the parents of three children. The couple, originally from Plattsmouth, Nebraska, are stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue.