Alright, folks, I'm going to be a little honest here.
Our adjustment after John came home/I had a baby was arduous. The first months were incredibly rocky for our family. John and I never really got that reconnection that should have been top priority after deployment. The kids were socked with a double whammy of Daddy (whom Eli thought just dropped off the face of the Earth) and a new brother.
Thankfully, Eli was too young to understand much. All he knew was that he was happy, healthy and enjoying time with his family. Turner, on the other hand, was stressed from the events. It was a terrible, albeit growing, time for all of us. I was completely confused about Turner's behavior and, in turn, grew very tired and agitated. The little boy didn't throw a tantrum until 2.5 years old was acting completely out of character.
After months of wondering if his anger (calling base psychologist and discussing taking Turner to a "talking" doctor) and emotional outbursts were normal, we reached some sort of equilibrium again.
And then John left in January and I was standing, alone, with an angry child. Clearly upset but not able to talk about anything. Again, I asked just a few close friends their thoughts. I received nothing but support but I could see something was wrong. Not just the anger, but the inability to handle simple situations (just ask me about the library), insecurity, fear of me leaving... So, again, I called around for a "talking" doctor. Someone has to know how to speak to my child to get him to open up. I tried to make connections with him and for him. "So and so's daddy leaves, too" or "So and so gets sad, too." I have and am still trying (but not overly aggressive) to ask the right questions and give him the chance to speak.
I found a great resource in Ah Ha! Parenting and have been using the articles and newsletters to remind myself daily of the task at hand. Positively raising this child that harbors such anger at times. He's young, and that lil' frontal lobe won't develop for years: I understand that on a geekery level. Anger in a child with such a good family life is hard for the parent to understand. We're far from perfect, but we've got a pretty great life!
John returned from that underway and, after a few days' worth of adjustment, Turner was back to a more normal self.
John's gone again and we had a great few days. Then, today, he woke up pissed at the world. Why? I have no idea. I spend the entire day being calm and non-reactive, loving and attentive. I got yelled at hit and just disrespected. The kids fought like brothers do when it's one of "those" days and the baby was a bit off. Not taking that personally is a daily struggle.
Today it was hard.
I've finally seen the pattern. It was difficult, at first, because we only experienced this a few times. The pattern was too short. I see it now, so I feel a bit better that my baby does come back. He just needs to feel his daddy's absence and this is how he does it.
It's not fun. It's exhausting, time consuming and frustrating. But he didn't choose this life for him, we did. I'll be damned if I don't do anything and everything I can for him.