Originally published at www.anneeswriting.blogspot.com on October, 2013
At 11:00pm I walked into my first born’s room to make sure he was cozy, that his night light was on and that he hadn’t fallen asleep in any weird positions.
This is my habit every night as it has been for the last 8.5 years. A little more than 4 years ago I added another child into my habit but it is all the same.
My slumbering child fell asleep upside down tonight. His feet lay on his pillow. I made sure to bend my knees while pulling him up and laying him right side up for you see he has gotten so big, so strong, so unwieldy.
As I tucked the covers around his body he looked up with sleepy eyes and a huge smile and said, “Daddy!” “No sweetie, it is just me, go back to sleep,” I choked out. “You looked like him,” my child said, smiling he rolled over, still sleeping. I walked out with tears in my eyes.
His Daddy was currently on one of his travels. 2 weeks, 4 days, 6 days, 1 week….The time span away always different, but a habit of his since our first born was ever even conceived.
I videoed My Love’s departure message once. My now 8 year old was only 2 at the time and My Love and him were playing hide and seek in the yard. Running, yelling, wrestling and laughing together. My Love knelt down real close after their play and looked him in the eyes. “I have to go away tomorrow, but I will be back soon,” he plainly stated. “I love you and will miss you very much.”
During this “away time” the two of us always made paper chains, talked about when he would return. Took videos of cool forts, bike rides and new achievements.
I remember one video vividly. My first born was jumping on his bed and I was asking him how many sleeps until Daddy comes home. The video camera cuts to the paper chain taped up in his room. “ONE MORE CHAIN!” he calls out while jumping. I move the video camera to his barely walking little sister and she says, “daddy!” and then the video cuts out.
Walking out of my son’s room last night my mind replayed this video. “Daddy!” Below the very thin surface of school, daily chores, playtime, mealtime and everything in between my kids miss their daddy. I miss their daddy. They dream of him. I dream of him.
These days however it is the “elephant in the room.” We all know he leaves. We all know he comes back. There are no paper chains however, no count downs, no “daddy!” videos.
We have become immune to the travel schedule. It is as much a part of our life as is waking up.
The limbo days (the travel days) we however laugh and wrestle a bit less. We subconsciously stare at the 5:00pm clock. Our meals are haphazard and inconvenient. There is one less playmate and twice the work. We do not dare to speak of it though.
There is a very real fear in all three of us that if we fess up and admit our missing, we will become unmoored from the rock that has saved our sinking ship and we will sink to the bottom of the ocean, alone.
My Love will continue to travel. We will continue to be left at home carrying on with routines and schedules. But as of today, I refuse to deny it. I will speak it. I will tell back to my kids memories and funny stories of their dad. I will ask them what they miss most. I will honestly tell them how many more days are left. I will take more “daddy” videos and I will most importantly remind them of how much their daddy loves them. After last night, My Love deserves to be more than what dreams are made of.
As I ruffled my son’s messy sleepy bed head this morning I looked him in the eyes and said, “I miss your daddy.” He smiled, “me too.”