I called the first one wrong. Totally wrong. I was scared to death, was calling the Nurse’s Hotline at our Army Hospital. She’d been crying–screaming and writhing for over an hour. Refusing to get off the toilet. Grabbing at her stomach. Calling for Mommy, desperately. Hitting the wall in pain. Slapping irrationally at anyone who came close, then calling them back. She was in pain. I knew. I was prepared to take her into the hospital. Something was wrong with my little girl.
I handed her the scarf. That plaid scarf she’s carried around the entire time I was in the hospital having her little sister. At that time, she wouldn’t leave the house, go to sleep, or do anything without that blasted scarf. As soon as things settled down, I hid it. That night, while she was screaming, I handed it to her. She took it, and within thirty seconds, she calmed down and climbed off the toilet.
Yes, she was in pain. But, it was no pain a doctor could have fixed.
“Ma’am? Can I confirm you called the Nurse’s Hotline? What symptoms is your daughter exhibiting?”
“It’s fine.” I sheepishly replied. “I thought she was having digestion issues, but her Daddy just got back from Iraq and didn’t want us going on a date tonight.”
Her responses were shocking to me. She was so nonchalant. “Oh. We get this all the time. Have a nice evening, ma’am.” Click.
Really? She’s two. They get this all the time?
It’s glorious having my husband–my Soldier–home. I don’t have to worry anymore. I don’t have to live for my computer to ring. He’s home–I can hug him whenever I want. Talk to him whenever I want. His name shows up on my phone when he calls.
But, I made a critical mistake. I thought that, as soon as we held each other on that parade field, this deployment was over. It’s affect on my life–my family’s life–would be over. I fell for the newspaper images, the media’s portrayal. That the Soldier comes home and everyone lives happily ever after.
But, we are human. And life’s events affect us. The younger we are, the smaller the ability we have to communicate the chaos, the suffering that this life brings, the harder it is to cope. We are still making sacrifices. My daughter is still sacrificing. She’s still suffering. She lives in horrible fear that Mommy or Daddy will leave–suddenly. That Daddy will disappear. She has fought going to bed, panicking and screaming in fear. She has refused to get dressed because she does not want to leave the house–her comfort zone. She’s scared to take naps.
She’s been such a fighter–such a trooper in the last year. But, she’s experienced more than most compitent adults do in saying good-bye repeatedly to her father, to her source of security and love. And it has taken its toll.
At first, I was angry with myself. Why wasn’t I just happy that he was home? Why was I complaining? I felt I had no right to feel the negative feelings–the worry, the fear, the anger. But, it’s not over. He’s home, but it’s not over.
We are readjusting. Reintegrating.
As tired as I am, as emotionally burnt out as I am, I will not lose. Unfortunately, this time, the battle lies not within me, but within my daughter. But, I stand firmly knowing that we will win this fight, too. Don’t mess with my family; don’t mess with my innocent children. I will give her all the love, the structure, the routine I can. We are slowly seeing progress. She will be okay. It just kills me that she–so innocent and so young–must still suffer.
I do this for him. I committed to this for him. But, why? Why must it hurt the little children?