I have mentioned it before. I grew up in San Diego while my stepdad served and eventually retired from navy life. Now that I am raising my own family in this heavily populated military town I see it from a completely different perspective–from the parent-left-at-home’s point of view, especially through deployment.
I see the struggle of the night time routine knowing that there is no one to help with getting the kids in the bath while I make dinner from whatever fell out of the freezer and help with homework. I see these women and men deal with broken refrigerators, cars, and water heaters. They do it all! They comfort their children when they are upset. They find comfort in each other when the news headlines mean there will be a change of plan.
It’s traumatic to go without this deeply loved parent and spouse. They find a way to get through it, manage without them, fill in the space where they stood. Then they come back and the difficult but managable routine that has been established for the last eight months has this deeply missed parent trying to figure out how to fit back in.
I know I’m not saying anything that these men and women don’t already know, but I think as civilains we don’t know what it really means.
I am reminded of this at every military homecoming. They are a joy to witness. Now as a civilian, it is an eye opening experience, a joyous reminder of what these families give up to keep us safe. Yes, they signed up and yes they got home safely. But they were missed, and that hurts. There is a reason there are tears at these reunions.
I think being in the presence of all the families that come together to welcome their service member home is an experience every civilian should witness at least once. For one thing, it will give you the warm and fuzzys. And it will also give you a deep sense of respect for how the whole family serves, not just the men and women in uniform.
I’d love to witness your next military homecoming in anywhere in San Diego, and of course I’ll bring my camera. 😉