"When is Daddy coming home?"



Life as a military parent

Having one or both parents serving in the military can add a whole new dimension to responsible parenting. Life in the military can involve frequent moves or deployments where a parent is in a far off place for months or even a year. 


This not only has an impact on spouses, but also military children who may be confused and wonder why Daddy or Mommy must go away for long periods of time, or why the family has to move so often 


Two Hudson Valley parents shared with us how they handle the stress of parenting while in the military. 

 

‘Where’s Daddy?” 


Randee Martinez, a Cornwall native and wife of Marine Sergeant Michael Martinez, found out she was pregnant with their first son, Matthewwhen they were stationed in Okinawa, Japan. 


“Ten weeks later, my husband was deployed to Afghanistan,” Randee recalls. “He was gone during the duration of my pregnancy and missed Matthew’s birth by nine days. 


Randee admits there were concerns in the beginning with Matthew, who is now 3. “He always wanted to know when Daddy was going to be home and where Daddy is,” she says. When he would get upset, he would say things like, ‘Daddy is never coming home, is he?’” 


Randee handled this by pinning a map of the world on the wall so she could show him exactly where Daddy is. 


“With technology, we are able to talk via the web cam just about every day,” she says. “That helps Matthew out a lot. He is able to ask Michael directly any questions or concerns that he may have.” 


When they became pregnant with their second son, Lucastwo years later after relocating from Okinawa to Cherry Point, N.C., the family situation improved because Mike was able to come home between deployments  


Fortunately, he was by my side when I had Lucas,” Randee said. However, Martinez was deployed again when Lucas was 4 months old. “He’s missed all of Lucas major milestones so far.  

 

Communication is key 


Having an absent partner is tough, Randee says. It’s stressful and can be draining, especially with two little boys.  


However, I know its something that has to be done. Mike is a Marine, and if he needs to go far away for work, then that is what must happen,” says Randee. “We know as parents that we need to be honest and communicate with each other about everything. Teaching them the foundation they will need later in life by raising a child with love and understanding, and teaching them good morals and values is something every parent strives for.” 


Randee says she talks with Mike whenever she can and that it helps her and the boys. 


“I know it helps Mike, too,” she says. “Mike is still very much involved in decisions that we make as a family when he can. I also talk about him to the boys as if he’s just at work for the day. They are constantly reminded that Daddy loves them and he will be home soon.” 

 

On the move 


Kim Bailey, a special education teacher in Westchester County, is married to Marine Sergeant Shane Bailey, currently stationed at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. 


They have a 3-year-old daughter named Emma, and another baby due in March. Pam worries about the affect frequent moves will have on her daughter. 


“My biggest fear is,  “Am I doing the right thing by my child?” Kim says. “With each move, we have to consider a new school for Emma. As she gets older, it's getting harder. Knowing that I have to uproot her to a whole new town is one thing, but taking her away from her friends and teachers who she loves is very difficult. She now has to get used to a brand new place with brand new teachers and friends. However, bottom line is we are a family and we stick together, and we are a great support system for each other. We get through it and Emma thrives.” 


Randee says she actually likes moving every couple of years because it’s a great way to get rid of junk she doesn’t need. “I have also met amazing friends along the way that I will hold dear to my heart forever,” Randee says. “The down side of moving is having to say goodbye to those friends and being far away from family.” 

 

‘Daddy doll’ 


Although Shane has never been deployed, they have been apart for months at a time.  


“He missed Emma’s 2nd birthday,” she said, but modern technology allowed Shane to watch Emma open her birthday presents via Skype.  


“Emma had a pillowcase with pictures of her and Shane on it,” Pam said. “She also had a ‘Daddy doll’ to sleep with and we’d stay in contact. 


Kim admits that it can be just as difficult coming back together as it is apart. 

“Sharing the parental responsibility at first is hard when you’re so used to doing it all yourself,” she says. “But after we got over that bump, our marriage is the strongest its ever been after going through being apart.?We've learned to communicate so much better because we had no other choice but to communicate all the important information while we were apart.” 

 

Kathy Eastwood is a freelance writer living in Cornwall on Hudson.