When we realized Mitchell’s fifth birthday fell smack in the middle of deployment, we were all bummed. In fact, one of Mitchell’s few breakdown moments of deployment was when he realized that daddy couldn’t come to his birthday party. How do you fight back the watery eyes when your son is crying because he doesn’t quite understand why daddy can’t be there on his special day? This was the first birthday (and birthday party) that Steve has missed… except the first one where he was born, or course. Par for the course of being a military family, I suppose. So, we planned our trip so we could get outta Dodge for Mitchell’s birthday… well actually, the opposite. We were getting out of North Carolina so we could head back toward Dodge to the state that holds such a special place in our hearts – Kansas!
Normally, I’d say running away from your problems is a terrible idea… but this year it just seemed like a good one. I figured we’d just skip out on a birthday party without daddy altogether, and replace it with a fun trip to see Kansas Grandma and Kansas Grandpa! Now, my mom is the birthday party queen. I had the best birthday parties growing up – and so I should not have been surprised at all when she asked if she could throw Mitchell a party!
We kept it low-key at my parents’ neighborhood pool. Mitchell is living up all the hype of a summer birthday with either the beach or the pool as his last three birthday party spots. The best part of the whole thing was that my parents were there celebrating him, my brother came and grilled us all a delicious dinner, and our friends Lindsey and Leslie and their sweet families and kiddos came out to celebrate! This was so unexpected and so sweet! Mitchell can’t remember meeting them so long ago, but it just made my heart soar knowing that he had little friends loving on him for his birthday – something that means more to him than they know.
He’s at the age where he remembers the littlest details. From months and months ago. He still talks about his parties two years back. So, knowing that my mom and our hometown friends teamed up to make this memory for him that I about skipped right over is just the best. We all swam our little hearts out, before we walked back to the house for a delicious dinner and a huge dinosaur cake.
We were missing a big part of us this year, but boy was Mitchell a happy five year old that day. And it’s good for a momma’s heart to see her boy so happy. Deployment can be lonely for all of us, and we’re grateful for friends and family to carry us through the milestones and get us that much closer to homecoming!