as submitted by Kendra
I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old, we are going through our first deployment now. It has been very hard on the kids of course they are really to young to understand fully what is going on. My husband left in December, and had a short leave to come home for Christmas, since they were still in the states. My children did not want me to take the Christmas tree down until Daddy came home, but who wants to leave a 8 foot tree up all year long?
So I came up with an idea to get a little tree for the boys to remember their Daddy. So I got a little tree and we put lights on it and then we put yellow ribbons on it. I have told the children that the lights on the tree will guide daddy home to us and that the yellow ribbons are showing that we love him. I put the tree on a table along with some pictures of them with their daddy and a family picture, so they can go over to the table anytime and see daddy. I thought it was a neat project for the kids and it has helped them some.
This is my husband’s first deployment. We were supposed to go together, but ended up having an unplanned pregnancy instead. We were lucky enough to have him here for the pregnancy, but he left 2 months after our little boy was born. My husband was upset because he is going to miss all of our son’s “firsts” like first Christmas, first birthday, first word, and so on.
To help with this I had the idea to buy a huge scrapbook and take a picture every day of our son and do a scrapbook page with a little passage of what we did that day. As well as video recording the major events.
Although my husband’s fears were of missing things, my fear was of our son not knowing who his daddy was when my husband returned home. To avoid this I took many pictures of him and our son together. I then bought a collage frame and put them all in it and hung it beside his bed. Even though he is only 3 months old, I feel he understands and misses him just as much as the dog and I do.
So every night when our son goes to bed, I show him the pictures hanging right beside his bed and tell him to “Say goodnight to daddy” just like if he was actually here. I also read that a baby’s sense of smell is very strong, and that he can tell his own mother’s breast milk from that of another woman just by smell.
This gave me the idea to buy my husband a body spray and deodorant set that had a distinctive smell that he liked. I had my husband wear it every day he was home with the baby in hopes that when he returns wearing that body spray, our son will recognize his smell and remember him. We also have nice technology such as webcam now too that allows my husband to interact with our son.