Next week the Ayyar family will mark having completed 25% of Balan’s deployment and we are not only surviving we are thriving.! Don’t get me wrong, my son Vasan’s hospitalization really tested us early in the deployment but we are stronger spiritually because of it. Was preparation the key? I say, absolutely yes! Balan and I were very up front and honest about what could test our family during our year without him. We talked about expectations, challenges that could arise and that I my not be mother of the year all the time. Having your best friend half a world away is trying and effects you in many ways. During my Mom and Sister’s visit during Christmas break we decided that my book Countdown ’til Daddy Comes home should have a list of questions to prompt parents to discuss certain issues with their children. Our family discussed most of these issues prior to our deployment and I think it has made the transition to our new normal easier. Here is the list of questions that I am planning on having in the back of the book. Have I missed anything? Please give me your suggestions. I only get one chance to make this book really make a difference for military and frequent business travel families.
Questions to discuss with your child prior to goodbye
Do you want to do anything special to say goodbye to Daddy?What will you miss most about not having Daddy home?
Is there someone else that can do them?
Are you ever mad at Daddy for going away?
Do you know where Daddy is going and when he’ll be back?
How can we help you stay connected to Daddy while he is gone?
How should we countdown the days ‘til Daddy comes home?
How should we break up the time so the countdown goes faster?
How do you think we are going to be able to communicate with Daddy?
How often do you think we think we are going to be able to communicate with Daddy?
Where do you want to keep the special things you want to show Daddy when he gets home?
What kind of Daddy comfort item do you want to get? (Daddy bear or pillow case with picture on it, etc.)
If we send Daddy a care package, what should we put in it?
Who should we call if Mommy can’t fix something herself?
What can you do to help get ready for Daddy’s arrival?
What should we cook for Daddy when he gets home?
What do you want to do for your Daddy-son or Daddy-daughter time?
Please visit http://www.daddycountdown.com for more ideas on how to help your children cope with a separation from a parent.
You never want to tempt fate and say what else could happen, but my life over the past six weeks has been filled with goodbyes, excitement, and the terror of the medical unknown. I said goodbye to my dear husband Balan who was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of October. I thought I had a great coping plan in place. My mother and sister- in- law were going to stay a few extra days after saying goodbye to Bal to help with our annual Halloween cotton candy and raise the spirits of my 3 little Indians. I had also launched my kickstarter campaign to help cover the costs of publishing my children’s book “Countdown ’til Daddy Comes Home.” My book project would give me something to focus on after my kids went to bed and the loss of my alone time with my husband would make me weepy, snack and watch worthless TV. All my plans we changed with a single “Mom!” waking me in the early morning.
There are so many sayings about testing your strength… here is one of my favorites.
Nothing can ever prepare you for the experience of watching your teenage son have a “seizure,” not knowing where he is or answering simple questions. My logical, rational mind took over in the ER that morning. I was able to answer all the Doctors questions, plead with Vasan to come back to me and hold him down while they attempted two lumbar punctures (spinal taps). On the outside I handled everything quite calmly and politely. It wasn’t until Vasan came back to me in the PICU with an unknown infection in his brain that I finally took a moment to reflect on the past few hours and I totally lost it! I believe that God is in my heart and he put me on auto pilot that early morning in October. I made all the right decisions and things could have been quite different or even tragic if I would have made even one alternate choice. Thankfully the Air Force brought Balan home from Afghanistan and he was able to stay until Vasan was on a path to recovery, but that meant another tearful goodbye for the entire family wrapped in even more uncertainty. My faith is what is now keeping me sane because 6 weeks later we still do not know what exactly infected Vasan’s brain and if we are on the correct course of antibiotics. The MRIs show a steady improvement but the not knowing is nagging me. I have to let it all go! Easy to say but extremely hard to do. Things are starting to get back to normal and I know that I am stronger for experiencing all of the past six weeks but I silently hope this is the last of my tests during Balan’s deployment.