My Wife, the Multi-Parent
Captain LeRoy Kiecker, North Mankato, MN
Being deployed is hard on the family.
I have been here in the sand now since mid-October 2004. Like almost everyone here, I left behind family members, including my wife and two small boys, ages two and almost five.
My wife and I often discuss which of the two of us has more difficulties while I’m gone. She believes that I have it tough here, and I don’t deny that. Despite what the soldiers and Marines go through while deployed – the primitive conditions, the heat, the constant threat of violence – I feel that my wife has it tougher than I do.
I am very blessed to have a ready source of communication in which I can call her weekly and catch up on the activities of two growing boys who seem to have inherited their father’s ability to find mischief. I especially miss the “daily events” – the funny little things they say; the difficult questions they ask, like “Daddy, how did God make the stars?” and the nightly routine of saying prayers, giving them a hug and a kiss, and finally wishing sweet dreams.
Is all of this hard on me? Yes, very. I still believe it must be harder on my wife.
When I was home, our family routine allowed me to be flexible in helping with the boys and getting them ready to go out the door with their mom. I would get them up and dressed in the morning, feed them breakfast, and be sure they were “ready to roll” so when my wife came down the stairs, it was kisses and seatbelts and out the driveway. She now does all that, and more.
When I was home, she and I used the “good cop-bad cop” approach in disciplining our children which is sometimes necessary when teaching children moral values and right from wrong. She does all that too, and more.
I also had my responsibilities around the house too. Taking out the garbage, putting salt in the softener, shoveling the sidewalk, mowing the lawn, maintaining the vehicles … well, you get the idea. My wife does all that, and more.
Sometimes at night, I would start dinner and was greeted by quick feet and big hugs. We took turns reading bedtime stories, picking up all the toys scattered throughout the house, and helping each other bathe two very dirty little boys – you all know how they can be! Afterwards, they would brush teeth, normally followed by a quick chase through the upstairs of the house and into bed. “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” hugs, kisses and usually a few more questions about nothing that happened that day would follow. Now, every night, my wife gets two hugs and two kisses; one for her and one for me. Most nights she has to answer the question, “When is Daddy coming home?” which is difficult to explain to a four-year-old. Yes, you know it; she does all that now by herself, and more.
My wife also makes dinosaur and “Army” birthday cakes as well as special snacks. She does all the shopping, makes care packages, writes letters and emails for me, takes the boys to church and Sunday School, and does all the household chores; my wife doesn’t miss a beat.
My wife is the most incredible person I know. She is a career woman who works 50-plus hours a week in a high stress, professional environment and yet accomplishes those things that she and I did as a team. She is their mother and their father.
I am sure that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day will be bittersweet for each of us. My wife’s Mother’s Day will be filled with the love and pride that a parent enjoys every time she looks at the boys who are the very reason for celebration. My Father’s Day celebration will be as empty as these desert sands – no access to my family. I think it’s important to understand that every soldier will go through that emptiness, and each family back home will miss their soldier, a father, mother, son or daughter.
And yet, never has a Mother’s Day or a Father’s Day meant more to me. On these two days, I’ll not only honor my father and mother, but I’ll turn west and face the setting sun as it rises over America and salute my wife.
I realize that there are others like her in this world, and for the sake of children everywhere, I thank God for all of them. We are both learning how to be single parents, she with two little boys and I without them within reach. We are learning to cope with our emotions that high stress brings and it is obvious that the Lord walks with us every step. We are truly blessed.
Captain LeRoy Kiecker is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Mankato, Minnesota. His wife and children live in North Mankato.
October 19, 2017
March 1, 2017