Most mornings I wake involuntarily. One child or another crawling on me or screeching in my ear for me to turn on the television or get them something to eat. This doesn't happen at normal times, often it is in the predawn hours.
But sometimes, days like today, I am awakened by something that makes the rest of my day incredible. I end up floating on air. And that is a feat considering just how big I am! This morning my phone was ringing and I was getting a call from my husband! He was calling to talk to us on skype. I love when I get to wake up and see him.
The baby pushes everyone out of the way so she can talk to him. She is only 14 months old. Her vocabulary is limited to say the least, but she knows who her Daddy is. She screams at the screen and tries to grab him. "DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA" over and over again. The first word she spoke was Dada and the first time she said it was when we were on skype with him. She was only 8 months old when he left, but still knows him. I love it. It amazes me how well she knows him just by hearing his voice and seeing the terribly distorted and blurry video of him. In fact, whenever grandma and grandpa call us on skype, she pokes her head around the scream saying "Dada", certain it is him calling.
Buddy is always next to talk to daddy. He yells at me until I put the baby down and he gets to see his dad. The very first thing buddy does is reach up and hug and kiss the screen of the laptop. Planting his lips smack dab over the camera. He wants to give his daddy love and will do so any way he can. He spends his time on skype with daddy sending him little emoticons, his favorite to send is the birthday cake and asks daddy to send him a root beer. The emoticon is actually a frosty and frothy beer mug, but Junior thinks it is root beer so who am I to burst his bubble? Shawn Jr is having an incredible rough time dealing with his dad being gone. He acts out and is often mean to the other kids when we have a long period of time between calls from his dad. I understand this is completely normal for some kids, it is just so hard to deal with.
Kayleigh loves talking to her dad. She wants to show him just how smart she is and everything she has learned while he is gone. For the last several weeks they have been "playing school" whenever they get to video chat on skype. He tells her to spell out words and she sounds the words out and types them and sends them to him. He tells her what an incredible job she is doing and she lights up like a Christmas tree. She wants to show him a new dance she has made up or stand on her head for him. She always asks "Daddy are you proud of my new (insert whatever she does here)?"
When it is finally mommy's turn to see and talk to daddy, we usually have to type. The kids see him and are so excited he is there, they are loud in the background, yelling and doing cartwheels and screaming "LOOK AT ME DADDY". So loud in fact he and I cant hear each other. As much as I love hearing his voice, I'm OK with that. I love seeing my children so animated. It means so much to me. We are lucky. Even though he is on the other side of the world, we still get to see him.
It wasn't long ago soldiers and their families had to rely on snail mail and cost prohibitive long distance calls to communicate with each other. Skype has been a life save for us. I wish we had known about it the last deployment. It makes me feel closer to my husband. We get to deal with issues with the kids together. We get to parent together even though he isn't here. We get to have snack time or meal time together. It bridges the gap. Last deployment, communication was sporadic at best. Even when he was able to call home, often times he didn't. He said it made it hard for him being so far away from us. This deployment, he said he could never make it without skype.
He isn't missing the little things people take for granted. He is seeing just how the kids are growing and maturing day to day (or week to week depending on how often we get to talk) instead of coming home for R&R and the end of the deployment feeling like he doesn't know them. Our relationship is growing and improving. We still have our tiffs, but they don't last and each of us will now admit when we are at fault. Something we have never done before.