The day finally came. I've been simultaneously waiting for this and dreading this for what seems like forever. I started the Deserving Airman Commissioning Program (DACP) in the fall of 2012 and met the board in December. Enter the littlest Airman. When she came into my life, things changed. My motivation to be a better woman and a good mother lies in her little eyes and every wobbly step. I knew that while it would be heart wrenching to leave her behind while I went to OTS, I had to go. I had to do it for her, for our family, not that she would think any less of me if I didn't, but I want her to know the lengths to which I'm willing to sacrifice for our family - to make her proud and to give her the best life and opportunities within my power. Will she remember this absence? Hopefully and probably not in the long run. I will bear that burden, as I shoulder many - it's a mother's curse and blessing. She is my motivation, my driving force. As I told Aunie, "I am not leaving my daughter to fail." Period. End of story. Failure is not an option. This sacrifice will reap rewards. Every day will bring me one day closer to holding her again. I must move forward to return home.
I finished packing last night, and I'm pretty proud of the job I did. Hopefully I won't regret that statement tomorrow when I'm schlepping things from point A to point B during in-processing, and wishing I hadn't made any pre-purchases. The airport farewell went smoothly, and probably better than I'd expected. Between last night and today, we had many bittersweet "last" moments - last bath time, last bedtime routine, last walk around the block with mommy, last time nursing, and tons of last hugs and kisses. They left me at the airport and I went through security on my own. I managed to hold it together all the way to Dallas, where I took advantage of the USO's "United Through Reading" program. If you are ever separated from your child/children, I highly recommend it. I didn't know what to expect, but I was taken to a small room with walls of books. I got to select a book to read to her, filmed reading it, and then the book and the DVD are sent to her - totally free of charge! There are tons of books too. I hemmed and hawed for a while, but had to hurry so I picked "On The Night You Were Born," knowing that it'd be a struggle to get through it. Sure enough, tears and tissues came flying, but I made it through. I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program, given how much time we spend reading at home.
And then from Dallas...wait, I haven't left Dallas yet. You know, because my plane was cancelled. Sigh. Cue the panic, but fortunately, I was already rebooked on a later flight tonight. So much for joining the other Officer Trainees (OTs) for dinner. Looks like I'll be booking it right to lodging so I can get what remains of my good night's sleep.
Other than that, I'm doing well and holding it together. I am so thankful for the USO and the services they offer to military service members. If I'm going to spend three hours killing time in an airport, I'm glad to do it in a cushy chair with internet access and free snacks, serviced by smiling volunteers.
Tune into the AHE Facebook page from now until early October. I have a feeling I won't be able to blog during this period, but I should be able to post the occasional update on FB, hopefully!