This article was written by a proud parent of a female member of the military in 2008. We have republished it because the insight continues to carry relevance to this day.
So it’s official. (Actually it was official a week ago, but I think I needed some time to consider what that meant.) My daughter, Sevilla, has been selected to deploy for 365 days. I’m not going to say where she’s going or what she’ll be doing, since I have no idea what is (or isn’t) covered by OPSEC (operational security, for those of you who don’t speak military acronyms). She won’t deploy for a while, so I have some time to get used to the idea; but she will deploy.
Now being who I am, I’ve already started looking at the practical impacts of her deployment. Sevilla’s a single parent, so obviously the biggest concern was her daughter. Of course, we will be ready, willing, and able to look after the Princess while her mom is serving her country. It won’t be much of a change, since the Princess lives with us anyway. She’ll attend the same school. She’ll sleep in the same bed. She’ll enhance the lives of her Grandparents; just like she does now. The only difference will be that her mom will be away for a while. I’ve already started to make plans on how to minimize the impact to the Princess. Sevilla and I have already considered a blog for the Princess (restricted to family and friends) as a way for her to post her thoughts and pictures and “stuff” in order to communicate with her mom. I also know that communication these days is quite different from when I was a kid and my dad had to rely on flimsy airmail paper and reel-to-reel tapes to communicate with his family. With the internet, email, webcams, and telephones, it should be fairly easy for Sevilla to keep in touch with the Princess. I also know, though, that it’s not the same and that my husband and I will have to try to fill a place in the Princess’ life that can be filled by only her mother. From the practical side, it will be tough; but thousands of kids, mothers, and grandparents have already dealt with a deployed parent and survived. We will, too.
Being who I am, I’m having a lot more trouble dealing with the “inside” impact. I’m not sure why. After all, my husband and my son have already deployed, and I was able to deal with their deployment (eventually). I know that I am proud of her and her choice to serve. I know that I think she’s doing the right thing for the right reasons. I know that I envy her the chance to do something that both of us consider very important. What I don’t know is how I really “feel” about it. For some reason, I seem to have decided not to feel. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because there is still some time before she actually leaves. Perhaps it is because I know it will be difficult for me. All I know is that I don’t want to “feel” anything about Sevilla deploying to a dangerous place until I have to. Is it a defense mechanism? Maybe. I just know that when I do allow myself to “feel,” those feelings will be extremely complex and will cover a wide-range of emotions. In the meantime, I’ll continue to plan for the practical “outside” aspects of Sevilla’s deployment and try to let the “inside” aspects sort themselves out. I’ve was able to do it when I watched my son go off to war. I can do it again as I prepare for my daughter to do the same.