While it's true that this is not our first deployment, and we've learned a lot about how it all works, it's also true that we have no idea what we're doing. E. is almost 15 and he remembers the most about the last deployment. He was 9 then, and after it was all over he told me that he never wants to go to another "going away" ceremony. But that was a few years ago, and I'm not sure how he'll feel about it now. And if he felt that way then, should we consider keeping J. and A. at home? I'll go of course, but will it be too much sadness and too much "goodbye" for them to handle?
We're so used to D. being gone these days. Back before his first deployment, D. would go away for a weekend here and a weekend there. But now, he's gone for eight weeks in a four-month period. He's gone for a week here and three weeks a couple of weeks later and, oh, don't forget about the month he'll be gone starting a month after that. We're used to him going away. Of course, yes, this is a bigger deal. He will be gone for a year. And while he'll be in a safer place than he was for his first deployment, he's still going off in support of a war. It's still dangerous, not to mention the fact that life is unpredictable and you don't have to be going off to war to be here one day and gone the next.
Yet, while it's a bigger deal this time, I wonder if we shouldn't treat it kind of like we would treat any of D.'s trips away. Maybe the kids will appreciate a calm and straight-forward approach to this deployment instead of all the sad-song, crying and hugging goodbye, bus-driving-away drama that accompanied his last deployment. Maybe less is more.
Or maybe it's not. Maybe the kids will benefit from seeing the other families who are coping in different ways with the deployment. Maybe they will meet some other Army brats that will help them get through it. Maybe seeing the way it all works and seeing the guys in camo and the American flags and the news crews will instill in them a deeper pride in their dad and in the job that he has chosen to do. Maybe more is more, after all.
I just don't know. All I know is that we have some decisions to make.