We're coming up on a month now since D left on his first deployment; we were told it would be an eight-month deployment, but there's always the chance that it might get extended. (I hope not!) Little Bug and I are adapting well enough, although for whatever reason his daddy's departure messed his sleep "schedule" up. Has *not* wanted to go to bed for the past few weeks, but that's slowly getting better.
Anyway. Thought I'd pontificate on some of the methods we're using to deal with the separation.
Phone calls. These don't happen very often, and are completely unpredictable when they do. Still, hearing D's voice always brightens my day, and when I put him on speakerphone, Little Bug's face inevitably lights up in a big ol' smile.
Email. These help me more than they help Bug, but they are invaluable to me; they are my primary form of communication with my husband while he's on deployment. I email almost every day, although he's so busy that he doesn't always get to respond in kind; I also know there will be periods when I may go days or maybe even weeks without hearing from him. That's going to suck.
Care packages. How else is a good wife to show her love for her man except by sending him goodies, specifically food? And anything else he specifically requests too, of course! I know D doesn't have much space for personal belongings on the ship, so it's actually best (in my opinion) to send mostly consumables. The postal service's flat rate boxes are definitely the best way to go. These are always free at the nearest post office; you only pay for shipping, and sending the largest to a military address is less than $15. It's worth noting that if you call USPS to order supplies, you can request a special kit for military families, which comes with boxes and tape and labels and such and is completely FREE, delivered to your door. You have to call in for this kit though; the number is 1-800-610-8734. It's also worth noting that when you send packages to deployed service members, you have to fill out a customs form. They're a bit of a pain, but between the person I talked to at the post office and this website with a picture tutorial, I managed okay.
Videos. Before D left, he recorded a bunch of pictures of himself reading poems for me to show Little Bug. The original idea was for them to be a bedtime thing, but Bug isn't always interested in sitting still and watching a video when he's tired, so I often just show them whenever I have my computer on and he's willing to sit (relatively) still for a few minutes. He loves these! There's also a program called United Through Reading which allows sailors to record videos of themselves reading stories while on deployment, which then get mailed back to the families at home as a DVD. I learned about this through my FRG and promptly told D, who is (hopefully) trying to find out how he can get involved!
Photo book. I ordered a photo book from Shutterfly that is filled with pictures of Little Bug and D together. We look through it almost every day, although some days Bug's hands are just too grabby and I don't want him to rip the pages. There is a program through the USO that allows you to send free photo books (from a different company) to any military address too; perfect to send a little something to someone stationed abroad or on a ship somewhere!
Daddy Doll. I also ordered a Daddy Doll for Little Bug to cuddle, since he can't cuddle with his daddy for real. It's basically a good quality stuffed doll featuring a full-length photo of his daddy. There are a wide variety of options as far as size and customization go, and you can even get a voice recorder to put in it. Little Bug loves his!
If you think about it, we're already almost 1/8 of the way through this deployment and managing just fine. Yes, it sucks, but we'll be okay. D and I have been together for nearly eight years; we're strong enough to last for an eight-month separation.