Imagine you got the call on Tuesday.

Imagine you’re at the park with your family, watching your toddler scamper around the playground while you sit next to your wife on the bench with the baby.

Imagine your sweet little girl’s delighted shrieks as you get up to chase her, giving her a few seconds’ headstart before scooping her up with a big Daddy roar and lots of tickles.

Imagine you almost didn’t hear your phone ring over the sound of her giggles.

You look down at the screen, and you see the number’s from work. Your heart sinks, because you’re on leave.

There’s only one reason they’re calling you.

By Friday, your bag is packed with gear and ammo and hopefully some extra socks and underwear, and at the last minute, you find a neighbor to watch the kids so your wife can drive you to base at 0445 to get on a plane with 3500 others.

This never gets easier, no matter how many times you’ve had to do it. You hug her tight, resting your chin on the top of her head and trying to commit her smell to memory.

It’s hard to meet her eyes because if you see her lose it, you might, too.

After the hardest goodbye you’ll ever have (because every goodbye like this is the hardest one you’ll ever have), you might go in and choke down some lukewarm scrambled eggs and oatmeal and sausage. The boxes of donuts remind you of Sundays at home.

Maybe you sit a moment at the back of the base chapel, if you’re the praying type.

Eventually, they call the order. You get up, you grab your weapon and your kit, and you get in line. You march out the door single file, into the cold January wind.

And you get on that plane.

You have no idea how long you’re going for. You have no clue when you’ll be back. No one back home knows where you’re going.

Imagine—less than a week ago, you were sitting at the park with your family. You can almost hear your baby girl laughing over the roar of the engines of the C-17.

At the end of the day,

You’re just doing the job you were called to do.

Politics don’t matter.

Party doesn’t matter.

You don’t want to argue about it, and you don’t care about the opinions of strangers on the internet.

You just want to hear your children laugh again, and all you can do is hope and pray you get the chance to.

Imagine you got the call on Tuesday.

Emily Solberg

Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom to two toddlers, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard along with the good. You can find more from her on her Facebook page, Shower Arguments.