Today is Princess’ 6th birthday. This is a day that’s always more emotional for me than most. I absolutely love being home with her to celebrate these milestones, but they always remind me of how much I’ve missed in the past.
I made my first deployment soon after we found out that my wife was pregnant with Princess. It was winding down around the due date, and I’m forever grateful for the effort that the ship went through to get me home for the birth. As we were transiting back to the states, they let me fly out from Agusta Bay, Sicily to save me the 2 weeks that it would take to cross the Med and Atlantic. I made it home a few days before the little girl was scheduled to arrive.
Unfortunately, she didn’t feel like cooperating. She decided that she liked it where she was, so she was about a week late. By that time, I was in Rhode Island for a mandatory 3 week school.
It was a Monday morning, and I was getting ready to drive a ship simulator. Before I stepped in, I called my mother-in-law who was in Virginia with my wife to see how things were going. I was told that she was about half way there, so it would be a few more hours. With that news, I silenced my phone to take my turn at driving. When I finished 30 minutes later, I had a message on my phone with Princess crying in the background. Apparently, in that half hour, there had been a very scary incident that built up to an emergency C-Section, but both mother and baby were doing great.
She was a week old before I saw her, and I immediately fell in love even though I had no idea what I was doing. She immediately became my world, and I loved every minute of it.
She was 6 months old when deployment number 2 came along. Once I returned, I only had about a month or so before my next cruise, so she was around 13 months when #3 started.
When I left for that deployment, she was barely walking and could only say a few words (her first was “Daddy” which I am convinced my wife drilled into her to make me feel better about leaving). When I returned, she was a completely different person. She spoke in sentences, and she could run around all on her own. I was amazed at the changes that I had missed while I was gone.
That’s the primary reason that I get pretty emotional on her birthdays. While she is turning 6 today, she’s only about 4 in my eyes. I’ve missed so much that I’ll never get back. I tend to celebrate Little Dude’s birthdays more because I’ve been home for his whole life, but when June 12th rolls around, all I want to do is hug Princess and make her stop growing.
This is what I do, but it’s definitely harder at some times that it is at others.