The Birthday We Spent Apart

A military mom learns how to celebrate her son’s birthday when he’s deployed.

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Posted in , Mar 28, 2017

A military mom copes with her son being away on his birthday.

Celebrating birthdays with our kids has always been something I love. From planning the presents, to the cake, to the people who’ll be there, it’s something I look forward to every year of our three sons’ lives.

However, when our oldest son turned 21, I didn’t get to celebrate with him. Instead I had to be content with sending up prayers because he was on deployment in the Middle East. There were a lot of times during those deployments that I felt like he got cheated because he was away. There were also times when I felt cheated. This was one of those times.

The heart wants what the heart wants, and this momma’s heart wanted to celebrate her son becoming a man. 

I moped around for weeks before his birthday. I pulled together everything special I could think of and mailed him a big care package in plenty of time to arrive for the special day. As much as I enjoyed filling the box with goodies, it just wasn’t the same.

Finally the day arrived and everything about it was wrong. Normally I’d wake up the child whose birthday it was with an intentionally off-key rendition of happy birthday. Instead, the only thing off-key was my mood, and the only party going on was my self-pity party. I didn’t even expect to get a phone call. I assumed that if he did get some time off, his buddies would take him out for a good time, and he’d be too busy to call.

But early afternoon my cell phone rang. I glanced at the screen and immediately my heart soared. It was that odd combination of numbers that announced our son was calling. I clicked on and said hello.

There was that normal, heart-stopping pause caused by the distance between us and then I heard his voice. I didn’t even let him finish his first sentence before I began singing to him. After we laughed about the silly tradition, he told me that he had to call because it wasn’t really his birthday if he didn’t get to talk to me.

Oh how those words warmed my heart. We chatted more and then I let him have some time with his dad. Before he rang off he ended the conversation like he always did. “I love you Mom, never forget.” 

As I thought over the conversation, I realized that my feelings must be similar to God’s. He misses us when we’re turned away from Him busy with our lives. He waits for us to turn back and when we do, it brings Him joy. 

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