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Deployment

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If you haven’t had a chance, please take a minute to read Maria’s long, wonderful discussion of life with a deployed British soldier.

The phone company doesn’t care
No, he won’t be home on the weekend. No, I can’t ‘just call him’, or fax, text or email him, either. Yes, I can write and get his signature, but it’ll take five weeks to get there and back. No, he can’t just pop in to the branch and sign it. No, you cannot keep the power of attorney ‘on file’. Etc. Etc.

Before E. went, we did our wills and power of attorney and transferred as many bills as possible into my name (I hope he doesn’t ever need his credit score). Unfortunately, whether it’s repairing the car, dealing with the credit card or the IVF clinic, or suspending his mobile phone, the computer always says no. But to be honest, these are really just irritants or temporary barriers, in the scheme of things.

A friend’s husband was based in a big US camp, and used the iPad he bought there to be on Facetime with his family every morning. The UK military, with its shorter, more intense tours and stingier paymaster, considers queue-up phone banks to be more than adequate. (And that’s for those lucky enough to be close to a big camp.) Which means that when E. phones, usually around midnight his time and after walking for fifteen minutes and waiting for longer, he’s tired, grumpy, and I’m the one thing standing between him and his four and a half hours of sleep. If I miss his call, there’s nothing to do but have a quick cry to get the stupid remorse out of my system, and hope he tries again soon.

I was planning to write a bit more about children and deployment when I was more optimistic about putting together a short series of “Daddy Blogging” posts around the girls’ third birthday, but since I’ve mostly failed in that better now than never. Even at age three the rate at which children grow and change is astonishing, so much so that the absence of even a couple of weeks means that you’re returning to people with outlooks, vocabularies, capabilities, and even shapes that have changed significantly. I’ve had friends and students who have left small children behind to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I find it difficult to imagine how difficult it must be to miss massive chunks of a child’s development.

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