Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Toddlers and Post Deployment

There is enough literature about how to deal with deployment and what to expect from your service member afterward to fill you with false expectations. I tried to research as much as possible about what sort of behavior differences we might see in the boys given their ages and the separation we experienced. I found simple articles about talking to your child, understanding on their level, talking to the service member about how to integrate himself back in to family life.
These are all common sense things that any cognisant parent would anticipate doing.

What I didn't expect, at all, were the extraordinary circumstances surrounding John's home coming. I had not mentally prepared to go in to labor even though I knew the possibility was completely feasible. John and I hadn't even had the chance to have a conversation, let alone reconnect after being separated for seven months. We agreed almost immediately, that we would press "pause" and resume our relationship as soon as possible: our main focus had to shift to a newborn and two toddlers, very similar in social age.

Fast forward through the week and a half before his leave started to our vacation time. The boys have gone from no dad to being able to access him all day every day. We are in the trenches here and our main battlefield is sleep. Deacon is a given, no surprises there. Eli is giving us slight resistance at bed time and crying for daddy to come pat him or sing "bum bum" (John hums the Notre Dame fight song instead of a lullaby). Turner...is...painful...

We have been up every single night for almost two weeks. I mean all night. If Turner isn't screaming at bed time, he's being agitated and very ill spirited and up every hour, if he's even sleeping. He's throwing fits, toys, blankets, pillows, lovies and tempers. If he does stay in his bed he's screaming various things and waking Eli up. Over the course of a week and a half we have taken toys, privileges, screamed, cried, comforted, threatened and almost sold him on the black market. We've switched from John having anything to do with getting up at night to me doing everything (since John's the novel one). I feel like we are out of things to do and I DO NOT feel like a reward chart is appropriate for this behavior. It's SO ridiculous I just want to quit my day job.

The sleep regression has been the single hardest thing about this deployment, hands down. We went from seven months of no frills to not having any sort of hand in what Turner is doing.

We are all sleep deprived and I have no clue what we're going to do when John heads back to work Friday. I do know this is going to take lots of patience and time. It makes me wonder if our kids are going to go through things like this (not just sleep regressions but the major readjustments, emotionally) every single time he deploys. *sigh*

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