My son - Logan - has been having a difficult time at night. He hates going to bed. Not because he doesn't want to go to bed but because he wants me to lay down next to him until he falls asleep. I was not understanding why he was suddenly doing this until last night and I couldn't help but cry for the smallest moment.
He pointed to the other pillow on his full-size bed. "Please, daddy," he said. He's been calling me daddy lately. C knows and he thinks it is funny. Mainly because Logan knows I am "Mommy" but I really think he just finds it to be funny how much it drives me nuts. He usually laughs when he is corrected, smiles, and says, "Momma."
"Sit, Daddy, Sit," he continued. He wanted me to lay beside him until he fell asleep again and I didn't want to fall into that habit.
"No, Boogah (my name for him), its time to go Night-Night," I said, brushing his hair with my hand.
"No, Daddy, No, No, No." The tears started flowing down his face.
"Mommy, baby. I'm Mommy," I reminded him.
"No Mommy ... Daddy!" A dagger ripped through the center of my chest. He wasn't calling me "Daddy." He was ASKING for Daddy.
Why hadn't I realized that. C laid down with Logan every night until he fell asleep for the last few weeks before he deployed. Something had happened to make Logan want that again and he was so horribly upset that he couldn't have it.
I breathed deeply and held his hand. "You want Daddy, don't you, baby?"
"Ye-e-e-a-ah," he stuttered as his chest heaved up and down. "Daddy, please?"
I laid down beside him and handed him his pillow with C's image on it and held him.
"Do you miss Daddy?" I asked while lying beside him.
"Yes," he answered as he kissed the pillow and held it close to him.
"He misses you very much too."
"Yeah," he said now touching my face. "Sing," he demanded softly - still with a broken voice.
"Daddy's song?" I asked knowing what his answer would be. He nodded, still with his tiny hand stroking my cheek. "I wish you freedom / I wish you peace / I wish you nights of stars / That beckon you to sleep ... " I began. And I laid there and waited until that little hand fell from my face and his breathing slowed and steadied.
Last night was a battle. So much of what we have to do involves being both mommy and daddy. We break ourselves into two trying to keep daddy present while still very much being mommy. And we cannot take their places. My son quite simply didn't want me last night. He wanted his best buddy and he became so frustrated that I was not understanding that.
Last night was a night to not be strict - to not worry that this would develop a habit. To not care that he might want this every night if I gave in this one night. And I will say for now that I will not do this again, because he is growing and this is such an important time to develop good habits and learn good lessons. But last night, for both of us, I needed to hold onto him while he was needing his daddy so very much. I needed to be there in that moment - as much for him as I did for me.
But the next night will be different. The next night I will sing him his song, kiss his forehead, and walk away. Even if he asks me not to, even if he asks for his daddy, even though the ache will rip through my heart again, because life will not stop. His time to learn will not wait until Daddy comes home. His time to grow and to develop cannot be paused. We will not get to go back and redo these moments just because we have to handle them without the other parent here to help. Life doesn't stop. It does not stop.
Tonight Logan is cuddled up to his pillow, hugging it tightly against his chest. He misses his daddy so very much. Every day I try to picture the first time he sees him again. I picture his face, his words, every move he will make. And the image I have created in my head brings the tears to the edge of my eyes every single time.
That day cannot come soon enough.
"I wish we were together / I wish I was home / I wish there were nights / Where I was never alone / I know I've said it / But I'll say it once again / I wish I could be there / But I can't"
The Daddy pillow I talked about is a "Daddy Doll" which I HIGHLY recommend to families with young children for a deployment. The website is https://www.hugahero.com/
My boys really do love theirs.
And the song I quoted is "Gavin's Song" by Marc Broussard. Logan calls it "Daddy's song."
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.