What is a home since it has so many different meanings? For me and my family, a home is a place of comfort, protected, with trust and love. Our loved ones serve our country for us. We, on the other hand, had no idea the effect that it could have on our future children.
For instance, we hear all the time how spouses in active duty may not be able to be there at birth. So, having to video chat in a birthing room or hospital seems weird to do. To be honest, when this happened to me, I was in so much pain but I was worried mostly that either the guys with my husband would just stay for the entire birth to be polite or that it would scare the heck out of them from watching it!
Dad Before Deployment
My husband was a hands on Dad before deployment. I remember when our first born son even peed on his father in front of his Master Sargent while visiting us in the hospital! (And, yes, we still laugh at that memory). As he grew older, our son had played with his boots and we laughed at his having to fill some big shoes. My husband was always smiling and playing with him. We took tons of pictures before his first deployment. Before everything changed for us.
He Left a Piece of Himself Overseas
I have since seen this man shut down to the world around him, his world. I have seen him crying over his fallen comrades. Even after being home he struggled to adjust. He would be jumping in his sleep, anxious all the time, and overprotective of the home.
I even thought I did a good job of hiding his issues from the kids. They were all asleep when these moments would happen. Until one therapy session that involved the kids, when they opened up and I learned otherwise. They saw it all but kept silent about it. Hearing this broke my heart as a mother.
The Kids Wrote Down Memories
It was during this session my husband and I left the room. We had to as all parents had to, but later on we could listen to them recount their stories. It was hard to expect them to stand in front of a group of 12 adults and speak, so they were asked to write their thoughts down on paper. For some odd reason, the therapist said kids find it easier to talk that way.
I was scared and sad for them. My husband sat there, scared and ashamed for what he was dealing with, broken-hearted as they spoke. He had to leave the room for a break because it was too much for him. Actually, for all of the men and women, the parents, it was hard to hear our children speak.
Healing, Sharing and Growth
As they each took their turns sharing memories of what they saw and experienced, we all cried in that room, as parents and adults. Our kids, who we thought we shielded well from this, weren’t shielded at all.
One daughter I remember well. She remembered her father grabbing his head, screaming about nightmares, the flashbacks of patrol duty and his fallen comrades passing away. We all held each other and cried. The negative in our viewpoints was having to hear our children recount these moments. The positive affect was that we were able to sit across from our children and explain what was happening during those times. That is as parents and our children were able to sit across from each other to have those very important conversations was so important.
After Effects of those Conversations
My husband actually sat down with me for once, one night when the kids were asleep. He talked about retirement and what he sees for us as a family. My husband spoke about the future.
Some may ask about medication. Yes, he is on medication and we talk about how he feels with it as it’s a journey of trial and error. But with therapy and support, he is succeeding. He is now four classes away from finishing his bachelor’s degree. We are not afraid to see what the future holds for us and look ahead.
It took us a while to get here but we are here. Let’s see where this road takes us.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story. If it helps give others strength and hope for the future, why not share all the parts that got us here?
Can’t understand what’s going on tonight
All the yelling and screaming happening right before my very eyes
Push my blanket and grab Mister Fluffy
Dad is screaming, “Fire in the hole!”
While Mommy talks to him so softly it always soothes his troubled soul
She grabs him softly as they collapse on the floor
They are both crying while he says the medication’s not working
I drop Mister Fluffy as my Mom turns the corner
“Go back to bed, baby, it’s just another nightmare.”
As I close the door and can’t help but wonder
Maybe Daddy needs Mister Fluffy to keep the monsters at bay
He just kept grabbing his head saying I miss my friends
They all left him behind
But isn’t the motto no man left behind?
It’s passed midnight can’t help but pray
For the Lord and angels above to lay their hands on my Daddy today.