I thought I was brave before. When he deployed. I thought that getting on with it, spending Friday nights with a Criminal Minds box set, Ben & Jerry’s and a bottle of Pinot Grigio was brave.
I thought going to friends weddings and birthdays alone was brave.
I thought spending my birthday without him here was brave.
I thought navigating the “sideways head tilters” was hard.
I knew nothing.
The gut wrenching sobs of your child when Daddy drives away to deploy. Hiding your feelings of dread, anger, mama bear protectiveness, pushing them right down, deep, deep inside you so you can comfort and try to reassure them.
Denying yourself your own big sobbing session, clamping the lid down on your own emotions and holding your babies as they either cry, or get on with what they were doing, not quite grasping the enormous vast stretching amount of time in front of them.
Dropping them off at school and letting their teacher know (again) that Daddy’s gone away, whilst your child tries to convince you they have a tummy ache and really can’t go into school today. Walking away from them as they call out for you and just hoping and trusting they will have a good day and get the support they need.
Unflinchingly cancelling Friday evening zoom plans with friends because for the last few nights, you’ve all camped out in mummy and daddy’s big bed. Because they need your physical presence to reassure them you aren’t leaving too.
Trying to convince them that 2/6/9 months really isn’t that long and feeling like a total and utter fraud because it is a bloody long time. They know it and you know it.
Being brave doesn’t always wear a uniform.
To all you brave mums, dads and children out there- you are fucking awesome. Keep going.