Do I go?
Every time I wake up, I forget where I’m at. I forget I’m gone. For one split moment I think I’m home and that I’m going to roll over and look at my beautiful wife, and both of my young daughters are moments from joining us. In that one moment, I’m so close to home. In that one moment I’m right there with them.
Every morning when my moment of unconscious passes and I’m brought back to reality, it breaks my heart. What am I trading? Why am I halfway across the world missing tiny pieces of my children’s childhood? For money, pride, country?
How long am I willing to leave them for? What if I come home and they’re not into toys anymore? I’m not getting that back. Every day is another, “Daddy push me on the swing please” gone. Most people leave their families, for their families. It’s an almost counterintuitive act. You leave your family for more money so you can do more for your family. You leave your family vulnerable to the world. I want my family to have nice things, but there’s a trade off when I’m gone. I can’t fix the fence. I can’t be there immediately if someone falls ill. I can’t help my wife at all because I’m here and she’s there.
This circumstance begs the question, “Do I go?” Where is my personal boundary of separation? What am I comfortable with? 4 weeks? 4 months? What happens in the times when I can’t call home? I get it. We all sacrifice in our own way for our families, but how much burden are you willing to bear? How much burden are you willingly putting on your partner at home? What if I don’t make it back? Is money worth your wife becoming widow and your kids not having a father.
An old veteran told me the military’s only a fraction of your life. The same can be said for childhood. It’s a tiny fraction of your life and their lives. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I don’t know if there’s anything I can say or do, or a dollar amount you can justifying leaving your family for. It’s purely sacrifice. I struggle internally the entire time I’m gone. Staying focused on my job is my saving grace. If I didn’t 100% love what I do, it would be impossible to leave. When I’m stateside, I find now the best thing to do is hold them tighter, take that silly picture, dance with them, play with them, allow myself to be a child with them. Make it count when I’m there and be as engaged in their lives as possible. Time is too precious to squander.