A blog from Army&You’s autumn 2023 edition by Stacey Heartford.
I’ve known my husband for 21 years and we must have spent ten of those apart. Like so many military marriages, he comes and he goes; pre-deployment training, detachments, courses that last for months… the list goes on.
Before kids, separation was simpler. He went away, life carried on; the only difference was the fabulous opportunity to starfish in the bed and the big hole he left in my heart. I missed him.
The meaning of ‘time apart’ is so different for me now we have children. The all-important detachment countdown ‘189 sleeps to go’ is key in getting us through the rough ride to homecoming and reunion.
When he leaves on one of his regular shorter trips away, the children and I wave him off with a smile, it’s easier to let him go when it’s not for long. My secondary duty instantly becomes ‘daddying’. I embrace my dual role with enthusiasm, attempting to do all the things he usually does, minus the deep voice and gigantic boots. I miss my own routine, and I try my best not to mess his up.
I am chief hugger, dubious chef, fixer of all things, ironer of school uniform (there’s a reason it’s usually his job), mower of lawns, taxi-driver extraordinaire, and I’m the one who makes sure the mobile phone and kids are ready in time for his calls.
He’s still a hands-on-dad where possible; despite the separation he dedicates time each day to phone home, adopting the difficult role of satellite parent with seeming ease. Although I know it’s not easy for him to maintain, they still feel his love when he’s not around, and that means everything to me.
I feel so lucky the children maintain this regular connection. I remember a time when it wasn’t so easy – handwritten Blueys would take an age to arrive, not a Facetime or WhatsApp call in sight. It’s amazing for our children that they’re living in an age where they can still see their parent’s face even if they’re far away; it makes time apart that much easier.
Separation may be hard for us no matter where he may be or for how long, but strangely, I feel grateful for the time we’re not together. Ultimately, being apart makes the time we spend together more precious; it makes us who we are.
Stacey is our Best Blogger for this edition – she wins a three-month posy subscription to FlowerBe – a flower gifting service based in Penarth. They’ve been delivering ‘Thoughtful Little Flowers’ through the UK’s letterboxes for more than three years. They create beautiful posies daily with the sweetest selection of seasonal flowers and foliage that last two-to-three weeks in a vase. NB: Flower subscriptions do not include a vase. For more info, see flowerbe.co.uk