The reason it hit me yesterday was because it was parent's night at our 8th grade son's basketball game. Our school does this for 8th grader's in sports, similar to a senior night at the High School level. Yesterday, as I was thinking about the event and being there for our son, I was really saddened to know that I would be the only one there for him, once again. Even though we are not a true single parent home, we often appear to be that way.
After being escorted across the court by my son, I was looking around at all of the different family situations surrounding me. There were kids there with one, two, three, and even four parents. I know that our kids are used to this, it's just the way our life is. However, I can't help but think about it from their perspective. Was our son relieved that it was just me? If my husband would have been here, could he have went down on the court in a crowded gymnasium to support our son? He would have had Frankie, his service dog with him. Would that have bothered our son? This son, in particular, hates to be the center of attention and is sometimes bothered by the extra attention Frankie brings. He is thankful his dad has her, but do we really stop to think or even talk about how it all affects our kids?
Currently, with Allen being away in California, this topic plays out many different ways. With him being away for treatment it is a little bit different than when he is home. However, just because he's home, doesn't mean he is being a dad. So, this means I am often a married, single parent. I know that a lot of this comes from Allen's fear and concern for our boys. He doesn't want to do something wrong when it comes to them so it is easier to just bow out. If he's not interacting with one of them, then he can't have an inappropriate incident with them whether that be losing his temper or accidentally hurting them in some way. So, in his PTSD way of thinking, it's better to just not interact with them at all than to risk hurting them. What he doesn't see is that his lack of interaction does hurt them, and me as well. Essentially, in many, many aspects, my boys have lost their dad. (We do have hope that this will not be permanent and that he is learning ways to have positive relationships with our kids.)
This really does affect all of us. It is hurtful to Allen in every way. He remembers the things he used to do with them and the way it used to be. The boys also remember this, (for the most part,) so it hurts them as well. It is really hard for a 7 year old and 14 year old to logically understand why this has changed. Then add in that they have been experiencing this for over 3 years now, from the ages of 4 and 11. I then have that added responsibility on my shoulders of being caregiver, wife, mom, dad, advocate, and everything else that goes along with all of this.
So, many things in the lives of the families of the wounded that people just don't realize. We have all sacrificed so much, and will continue to sacrifice the rest of our lives. This has changed who we all are and who our boys will grow up to be. (Not all negatively I might add.) It would be so nice, if our nation, our lawmakers, and the general public would take the time to get to know some of these families and their struggles. I think it would be shocking to many and possibly quite life changing. I know it has been for us.