If you have a military kid, chances are they’ve had to spend at least one birthday without their Service Member parent. Some have to go through it more than one. Others are lucky enough to never have that experience, but it’s not an easy thing to have a big day without one of your parents home to celebrate with you. Both of my kids have had to live through this unpleasant experience on more than one occasion.
My son has only had his dad here two out of six birthdays and my daughter has spent the last two without her dad here as well. I can’t fully understand the sadness this can bring because I was not raised in a military home; I do watch the sadness of my kids’ faces in the days leading up to their birthdays when they talk about their dad missing their big day. Below are a few things we’ve come up with to make birthdays without their dad a bearable thing for our kids.
Before becoming an Air Force family, I never would have imagined myself saying this, but when you spend several holidays in a row without your spouse home for the kids to spend time with him/her on birthdays, you start to see the value in spoiling them a little in their big day. When their dad is gone, I try to do something extra special on birthdays. Even if it’s a bit more money than we typically spend on a party, I’m willing to fork over the extra dough since my kids have to be missing their dad during what is supposed to be a celebration.
My husband and I also always shop “together” via Amazon and FaceTime/Skype. This way we can tell the kids that, yes, their dad did help pick the gift out. It helps remind them that their dad is still thinking about them even though he’s thousands of miles away.