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My name is Candy, and my dad was in the Navy. He didn't see me for the first time until I was three-months-old because he was at sea when I was born. Shortly after I was born, he got out of the Navy, but our family has always been military oriented. Between my dad, husband, brother, father-in-law, aunts and uncles, we have every branch of service covered — except the Coast Guard.
My husband is a Marine (his father served in the Army) and has been serving our country for almost 15 years. He will probably stay in the Marine Corps for 30 years or more if they let him. We have two children together. Our oldest is seven-years-old, and the youngest is almost six. We have been through two deployments to Iraq and recruiting duty.
The deployments to Iraq were tough on the kids. They were too young to understand why daddy had to be away and couldn't come home. They also didn't understand why I couldn't just pick up the phone and call their dad when they wanted to talk with him. My kids were four and three the first time my husband deployed to Iraq, in June of 2004. The second time he was deployed they were five and four; the second deployment came just a few months after he returned home from Iraq the first time.
I definitely think one of the hardest parts of deployment is trying to explain the "WHY" to a child that is really too young to understand. You have to be so selective in what you tell them, because you don't want them to be scared or worried like you are. So, as a military mom, you try not to let them see that you are sad, to shield them from the worries that flood your mind during a deployment to such a hostile environment. You try to make sure they don't see the news reports about what is going on (although I slept with FOX News on every night) and worry about what they may pick up from other kids about the situation. I told my kids where their dad was, but I did not tell them what was going on there.
You try to keep contact between kids and their father as well established as possible, via the random phone calls that sometime get disconnected, and the snail mail. Although they were too young to read, my husband would send them both their own letters, separate from my letters. They were often more interested in the pictures that my husband would draw for them. Knowing how important it was for my husband to have contact from them as well, I would have them write to their dad. How on earth was that possible, given their ages? Well, since they couldn't read or write themselves, I would ask them what they wanted to tell their daddy. They would tell me and with a highlighter, I would write the words for them. Then, they would go back and trace the letters that I had written thus writing their daddy a letter in their own words.
As I looked for something to keep me busy and help the time pass during the deployments, I opened Cubecan's Creations in 2005. I figured it was a great way to stay busy and offer clothing and gifts for Military members and their family to help them show their pride and support with unique designs that can't be found elsewhere.
PCS'ing can also be difficult on the kids. Moving away from all of their friends they have made to show up at a new school and be the new kid. They refer to the old house as our "other house" and often ask when will we go back there. Definitely the age is a factor, but I can only imagine as they get older, especially in their teens, that the moves will be much harder on them. When they were six and five, they had already lived in three different states. It will be interesting to count how many times they have moved by the time they graduate high school.
Currently my brother just completed basic training in Feb 2007, after enlisting in the Army Reserves, and will most likely be heading to Iraq sometime in the near future. My husband is currently home will remain home for the time being. I must say, I am glad that we get to keep him home for a little while. This past Christmas was the first time we had him home for the holidays since 2003.
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