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5 Ways to Connect with Your Child During Deployment

When I learned that my husband was going to deploy this year, it left me nervous. It would be our first longer separation, and the first my son would remember. I couldn’t help but worry, not only for them and their relationship, but also for me. How would I connect with my son the way he connects with his dad?

My 3 1/2 year old son is a daddy’s boy, through and through.

He loves playing cars and dinos with Dad, matching clothes with Dad, and helping Dad with all the household tasks and projects.

Have you heard the song, “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins? (If not, you can listen here.) That’s them, in a nutshell.

Watching them together is my greatest joy, and their connection makes me love them both more every day.

But I’ll let you in on a secret….

It also makes me a little jealous.

How will I do at being Mom and Dad?

Dad’s shoes are big ones to fill, as they are my little guy’s favorite.

I won’t lie. I cried to my husband about it in the weeks before he left.

And my husband listened. He hugged me tight, and said, “Amanda, sweetheart, you don’t have to be me. Be you. He’s a little boy who loves his papa, sure. But he loves you, too. So much.”

At first, I cried. How could I just be myself, when little man wants Dad? Then I thought about what he said.

“You don’t have to be me. Be you.”

I had to find my own way to connect with my son while his dad was deployed.

I realized that I’d gotten used to my husband being the fun one. But now, I needed to dig deep and find my own ways to connect with my son.

Here are the five ways I’m connecting with my son while my husband is deployed:

1. Matching clothes

My husband and son have loved matching their clothes since R was tiny. “Same, same” is a common, almost daily phrase around here. Now, I don’t have all the same T-shirts and pants that my little does. But, I have figured out two ways to meet this want.

1. Wearing the same or similar colors

and

2. Wearing graphic tees with his favorite characters and fun statement earrings that he can oooh and ahhh over. Most of my graphic tees are from Walmart, and my favorite earrings are from CladinClay, a veteran-owned business on Etsy.

2. Playing cars/trucks/dinos 

I finally realized that my creative and chatty child often does want to play on his own. But he likes to share space or have me close by, so he can just show me the cool thing he put together.

3. Reading

Along the same vein, he loves to have his dad read to him while they sit side by side. I learned recently that when I read to him, he prefers to be playing quietly nearby.

At first, I thought he wasn’t listening, so I’d stop after a few pages. But then, he’d look up from his train tracks or trucks and comment on the scene I’d just read. Now, I’ll read a few books a day from across the room, and we’re both happy.

4. Letting him help with household tasks/projects

My son follows his dad around any time he’s home. As a result, R has learned lots about tools, classic toys (He-Man, anyone?), and fixing things.

I’m not a fix-it person, but there is always something to do around our home. When my husband left, he told R to “make sure to help Mommy.”

R took it to heart. If I open the washing machine, I hear little footsteps and an “I wanna help you,” just seconds later. And then he’ll move laundry around.

It’s super cute and I love it.

5. Snuggles

He’s always loved snuggles from Dad and Mom, so there wasn’t much that changed on this front. But for the days when R wanted both of us, I got him a Daddy Doll.

I chose to add on a voice recorder; my husband saved a 15-second clip of a favorite lullaby. It makes bedtime a family event even while Dad is away.

And of course, when R wants cuddles throughout the day, I’m happy to oblige.

 

 

These things have calmed my mind and helped me realize that my husband was right. My son doesn’t need me to be Dad…

He just needs me to be there in my own way.

And that’s enough.

 

Author

  • Amanda Krieger

    Amanda Krieger is an Army wife and mom. She met her husband while he was enlisting, online to boot, even though at the time they only lived five miles apart. She has BA and MA Theology degrees from Ave Maria University and the Franciscan University of Steubenville, as well as an MA in English and Creative Writing. Her hope is to publish a memoir chronicling her life as a woman with a disability who happens to be married to a military man. A stay-at-home mom and still relatively new to military life, Amanda spends her days taking care of her family and learning as much as she can about military life. She's passionate about body positivity, disability representation, self care, her faith, and good food. She loves to see new places and try local cuisine.

1 Comment

  1. Sharita Knobloch

    Aw friend– this is beautiful, true and I SO GET IT! Malick is a daddy’s boy too, so it’s always hard when Brandon goes elsewhere. I see your heart in this– you will make it through this deployment!

    Reply

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