This is my second deployment so I already had a good idea that we’d be spending a lot of time traveling. However, it’s been seven years since my last deployment and the way things are done has changed significantly, which is cool except that it meant we’d be traveling for even longer than any of has had ever thought.
Rather than hopping on a plane at our mobilization site and taking a nearly direct flight to our destination, with just one layover to refuel, we instead had to sit on a bus for more than six hours before hopping on a packed flight which made two lengthy layovers before reaching our final destination … that is, of course, not including when they bused us to the wrong location adding an additional five-plus hours of travel.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s all good. We made it to our destination safely and were able to meet our counterparts we’re replacing to successfully begin the transfer of duties.
With everything that happened, however, the flight to where we’re deployed did offer me several opportunities to think about my family. On our first leg of the flight we had a family with several children. The eldest of the children couldn’t have been much older than six or seven and I think there were four in total, the youngest being just a baby.
If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d probably say I couldn’t imagine flying with children. I’d be too afraid to be that family with the screaming kid for the entire flight. But, we have flown with our son and there was absolutely no problem. These kids were very well behaved and it reminded me of our trip to Florida before I mobilized for deployment.
I’ll admit, this memory then circled from happy thoughts of all the fun we had into the less-than-fun realization that this deployment was actually happening and I was going into the first days of a very long time away from my family.
I’ve been fortunate to have a relatively reliable internet connection so far which has given me the opportunity to video chat with everyone back home which has been amazing. It’s a bit awkward trying to get used to the huge time difference between here and there and making time at appropriate points in the day to make those calls.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to talk with my wife and get to know how things are going back home. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when I do get the chance to call, my son hasn’t always been that interested in talking (or toddler babbling) with me.
I know it’s because he’s only two years old and his toys are a lot more interesting than dad on a screen, but part of me wishes he’d be more excited to see and talk with me.
Some of the stories my wife tells me about what he does, or they do together (like the one where all he wanted to do was push his poopy diaper around in his dump truck) makes me literally laugh out loud and it makes me happy that they’re having a good time and he’s not upset that I’m not there. But it also makes me a bit discouraged that I’m not there with them experiencing these things first hand.
Then again, that dump truck story ended with my wife searching the house for poop nuggets after my son found out how to open the dirty diaper, so there are some things I’m glad I’m not there for …