It was only a few years ago that my son went trick or treating for the first time. Together we were a pirate, a firewoman, and a child that was eaten by the cookie monster. This isn’t the first time as a family, though, as we’ve celebrated this “holiday” even before he had been born. I think it’s fair to say that I love Halloween. I will not be trick or treating on Halloween with my son Leonardo during Halloween.
This is simply one of the many sacrifices that as a military man I must endure. Being a military parent is not easy in the slightest. We often pretend to be mentally prepared for the challenges that come with it, but we’re just regular people. Our fears are the same as any parent; we dread the idea of our children being hurt, feeling resentment towards us for our absences, and even hating us for not being present during a large part of their lives. It’s hard not to sympathize with the smaller kids, as any adult would understand that their whole world primarily revolves around the parents. Children don’t have any experience other than the ones they’ve endured with their parents, but somehow it doesn’t matter a number of times you leave for deployment, it never gets easier for them.[mc4wp_form id=”16061″]
Right now, I’m in the midst of a very long deployment. I’ll return home soon enough, but time simply appears to stand still as you stare at the moon in the ocean view. The sounds of the ship’s bells and whistles mark the passing of time as we sailors turn wrenches and monitor the conditions of our vessel. Our thoughts and feelings turn to our families in the times of strife. Those moments when you realize that you haven’t seen land in what appears to be months, the world stands still, but outside everything has changed.
Especially children, their world is being shaped at a much faster pace than ours, and with every passing moment, they slowly become the person they will be in the future. But, for us, we’re the same we were those months ago before we left. Everything feels changed when we arrived like a new world is before us and we aren’t a part of it. We aren’t a part of those birthdays we’ve missed, the anniversaries, boo-boos we couldn’t kiss, picnics, family walks, and even the emotional outburst that we teach our children to manage in a healthy manner. These are all part of the military parent experience, and it’s a large motivation for my choice to depart from the armed forces sometime shortly.
This is the reason why I will not trick or treat with Leonardo in the year of his 4th birthday. It’s not because I choose not to partake in the festivities, but because duty calls and it was a duty I couldn’t refuse. Life as a military parent is not for everyone, but there are others who are much stronger than I which choose to endure it. As for me I simply don’t want to miss out on all the little events like these which make our lives unique.
My son is the reason I am in the military, but he is also the reason why I am choosing to leave it. I’ve come to realize that time is fleeting and there can only be a single first time for each experience our children have. I don’t want to miss out on all of my kid’s first times. Halloween might seem like a childish holiday to some, but to me, it was a tradition in which my son and I had fun together as parent and child.