Being a military spouse has given me a different perspective on certain things. Now that I am living in a non-military area some of those differences are that much more evident.
The other day while I was waiting outside of Ryan's classroom, I watched a father coming to pick up his daughter from school. The only reason I really noticed was because as the little girl came out of her classroom and saw her father she yelled, "Daddy!" He grabbed her, laughing loudly, and gave her a giant hug. It was a sweet scene, but also different from the rest of us parents that quietly receive our children and head back to the parking lot hoping to beat the traffic jam.
My first thought was, "is he in the military and just returning home?" But then I remembered that we aren't around the military so that was doubtful. The teacher said something that made me start thinking maybe he had been away. My husband was currently away for the week, so maybe it was the same in that family.
As the father and daughter walked by me, I heard him say, "I was away last night, so I didn't get to see you. That is why I came to pick you up today." I have to admit that I cracked a half smile. No, not to mock them, because missing someone is missing someone even if only for a day, but because my kids and I have become so accustomed to Pat being away for long periods of time. Nights without daddy coming home is very normal to my kids. The boys don't even blink an eye at Pat's absence.
I'm lucky that my kids have been able to seamlessly accept long (and short) absences from their dad. While non-military people often ask how we do it as a military family, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to raise a family where one night apart is a big deal. While I know that often times the grass can look greener in someone else's life, missing a parent is hard for kids even if they don't show it. So I hope that from seeing this different perspective maybe I can help teach my family to fill every homecoming, even if just after one day, with a huge hug and a kiss just like that little girl and her father.