A phone call from your child for Christmas and New Year's Day is just not the same. It is, however, a reality when your child has chosen the military for their career. It doesn't matter how long they have been in, you still miss them just as much. It is easy to suffer from the empty chair syndrome. They place at the table where they would be sitting, if they were home.
This can especially be true if your child is single. My husband and I just had a conversation on New Year's Eve about this topic. He remembers always having to stand duty on Christmas day as a single Marine...he hadn't met me yet (smile). The number of troops that could go home was limited, he was a member of the Military Police, and someone had to stay on base and control traffic, etc. I could tell that it really affected him; it showed in his face, 30 years later.
My suggestion - don't allow the feelings of loneliness from the holidays define you. I know that Skype is great, but it is not the same as being able to give a real hug to your child. However, the feelings, tears and sadness don't have to continue on into the next season.
I remember that I didn't want my husband to miss anything that the children were doing while he was deployed. But with three of them, that was difficult. They were all so young and some days it took every ounce of strength and patience I had just to make it through the day.
What helped me the most was to start a journal of my day. It was a great place to jot down my frustrations, success, happiness and sadness. I gave myself permission to write down whatever popped into my mind. It helped that I bought a journal that was really cute too!
One thing that I know for sure...you won't be able to remember everything that you want to tell your child or relative when they contact you. And sometimes, it may be a long time before you hear from them again. Having a journal handy will allow you to make sure that you remember that important event the next time you are on the phone or Skype. It is also extremely therapeutic for your own mental health.
Fill 2013 with wonderful memories of your family, your dreams and your life by keeping a journal at least several days a week. This way, your memories will live forever.
Linda Clevenger, 1st VP BSMF