Friday, July 25, 2014

Family Separation Prep

As I've mentioned before in the past, OTS is going to be the first time I've ever been away from my daughter.  The longest I've been away from her is the length of a work day - never overnight, never for a "getaway weekend," never ever.  As a nursing mom, you realize that it's easier just to be with your child, versus being away and pumping/storing/transporting milk, at least that's what I've realized.  My DH feels likewise, and isn't in a rush to run off with me and leave her behind (at least, if Uncle Sam isn't requiring him to do so).

Twenty-eight days notice for OTS meant that we were going to have to transition her to her own bed at night (originally we thought my husband was going to be TDY during this time period as well), and wean her from nursing so that I wouldn't undergo any of the numerous physical ailments that go along with weaning cold turkey.  I plan to write more on this subject later, most likely after my return so I can document how it went when I was there and how we acclimated to our new normal upon my return.

Let's put the cliched statement out there first - "This will be harder on me than it is on her."  That's what they keep telling me, and I hope that it's true, for her sake.  In the meantime, we've tried to do some fun things to prepare ourselves for this absence.  Keep in mind that my daughter is only 15 months old, so she doesn't understand too much about what's going on and we have limitations to what we can do.

We've ordered her a Daddy Doll, with stripes photoshopped out so that we don't have to change it too soon.  If you're going to be separated from your child for whatever reason, they're pretty amazing.  You take a high quality [read: not cell phone pic] of yourself and send it to them and they make a doll out of it.  They've branched out and do more than just military members these days, so there's something for everyone.  No, I wasn't paid to rave about them, I paid for this awesome likeness of myself out of my hard earned money.  :)

I also ordered the Sesame Street "Talk, Listen, Connect" DVDs.  She doesn't watch TV, but I made an exception for this series, which is designed to introduce family separation and feelings to young children.  We attempted to watch it and it went as expected - she lost interest after a couple minutes and wandered away to play.  I am totally fine with that.  It's a very cute series, available in English and Spanish, and available for free from Military One Source.  Both websites have a ton of (free!) resources to assist military families and military kids.  

Military One Source has even more great freebies, including a number of board books for ages one through three that have been developed by licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) through the organization Zero To Three.  All of their books are winners in our household, and include information in the back for parents on how to broach topics like separation and reunification with children, as well as typical reactions of children to these sorts of emotions.  Most of their books include slots for photos, which DD really loves.  Just try not to choke up while you read "Over There" to your child, especially the line, "My Mommy/Daddy is away and I miss her/him, but she's/he's always here in my heart."  Seriously.  DD devours books and loves being read to, so we have gone through these books time and time again.

Ultimately, I am thankful that unlike at BMT, I will have access to a personal computer and significantly fewer restrictions on use of my personal cell phone so that I can call home and FaceTime whenever possible.  I don't know the exact policies just yet, so I don't want to speak before I have firsthand experience, but I am relived to know that this is an option for me.  I tip my hat to those parents that go through BMT, separated by their children with minimal opportunities to communicate with them.  In the meantime, we are trying to make the most of our summer and our remaining days together.

1 comment:

Aunie said...

the daddy doll is just the SWEETEST thing. it's so precious. what a great idea! haha... i need one of those for my HUSBAND when i go to tech school :)

so excited to watch this journey through your eyes. you're going to help so many by sharing it!