I’m not going to lie. It’s tough being a parent in the military. It’s probably not a surprise that leaving the family has a tendency to break your heart. There is one benefit that stems from this reality though: you tend to really appreciate the little things.
I’m certainly not saying that non-military parents take their kids for granted, because I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think that I just tend to look at some things in a different light. I’ll try to explain this a little bit using this picture that my wife took of Little Dude this weekend (please forgive my rather lame attempt to block out the faces of the other kids present in the picture).
This has quickly become one of my favorite pictures. To be honest, I don’t remember this moment of the game. I’m the coach, and there was a very interesting dirt patch on the field, so I was probably trying to coax a couple kids out of it and back towards the ball. The picture says quite a bit though.
When I look at it, I see Little Dude doing his absolute best to play a game that he has never really tried before. It looks like he just kicked the ball and he’s now going to get it again. Basically, it looks like he’s dribbling the ball down the field to score a goal. All the other kids are running with him and the crowd is cheering him on in the background. It’s probably about the best action sports shot that you could get of a 3 year old. I just think that it’s awesome.
When I look at the picture, I immediately start appreciating some of the smaller things though. I love the fact that the shirt is so huge on him. It makes me realize that it won’t always be that way. At some point, I will have to deploy, and when I get home, that shirt will fit. It will no longer hang down to his knees or cover his entire arms. This isn’t different from any other kid, but the difference is that I will have missed all of the steps in between. In my eyes, that outfit will go from a dress to a t-shirt overnight.
That sounds fairly depressing, and I guess that it is, but it also makes me appreciate the small things much more. I won’t be there to coach him in future seasons, but I’m fully involved for this one. When we have a Family Jammy Movie Fun Night, it’s that much more pleasant to lie on the floor with the wife and kids.
To be honest, I’ve lost some of this appreciation as my shore duty has stretched out. Now that it’s getting close to completion, I’m starting to kick myself for it, but that’s the way it goes. I’m not exactly sure how the above picture ended (although Little Dude did score 2 goals!), but I certainly appreciate the moment that it captures. Go Little Dude!!!