A new children’s book is highlighting the effects of deployments on the youngest members of a military family.
Army wife Chandelle Walker recently published “Daddy Left with Mr. Army: A Child’s View of Military Deployment” to assist parents, like herself, cope with a child’s emotions during military separation. Walker personally learned the trials and tribulations a military family goes through while enduring five deployments with her two children. Military Families Magazine spoke with the self-publisher author amid the release of the book to learn more about how this project came to fruition.
Where did the inspiration for the story stem from?
Our family understands what military families go through during deployments and family separations. I have witnessed firsthand what children experience and have seen how they feel and what emotions they are going through. Unless you are in this life, it is difficult to truly understand what military spouses and children experience while a spouse and/or parent is deployed.
Who is this book for?
My target audience is most likely for children from 2 to 11. It is a darling book all in rhyme and relates to so many military children and families. It can also be beneficial for extended families of these children and deploying parents, so they can gain some insight into the emotions and thought processes these children experience.
Why was it important to you to write this book?
I really feel it can benefit military children because it is written from their perspective. It covers how life is normal for them, then, one day Daddy comes home with orders sending him away and how the child doesn’t understand what is going on, why the parents are sometimes acting different, and why Daddy is packing so much. It goes through the explanation from the parents as to what is going to happen and why what Daddy is doing is so important. It talks about the sad day Daddy leaves and continues on to how the child and mother navigate life without him and things they do to stay connected. You also see how the child’s understanding of what Dad is doing and why he’s gone, grows and matures.
How long did it take you to write this book?
From beginning to end, the process was around 14 years to finally get this into my hands, and I am so excited to share it! During a separation while I was pregnant with my son, I woke up with the beginnings of this children’s book. I have always loved books written in rhyme and poetry, and that is how this book began forming. Line after line continued on in rhyme until it was complete. I wrote most of it that night, but added to and tweaked it throughout the next few years as our family continued to experience deployments. I completed it years ago, but I wasn’t sure what I could do with it.
What is a fun fact about the book’s publishing process?
The fun part was that I was keeping this a secret from my husband. I wanted the book of our Army life and deployments to be surprise for him. It was difficult hiding it from him sometimes, but it was worth it in the end. It was a long and sometimes difficult process, but I received my first official hardcover copy on Dec. 24, 2018, just in time to show my family for the holidays.
Aside from sharing this book with their kids, what advice do you have for military families facing a deployment?
My biggest suggestion for the mother or parent not deployed, would be to just take each day one day at a time. Be patient with your children and remember they are also experiencing the temporary absence of their loved one. Don’t try to make everything perfect. Just do your best each day. Talk to your children, spend time with them, play games with them, and read to them! It won’t always be easy, but make the best out of each day and you will look back and be happy with the growth you’ve made and the strength you’ve gained.