Update: Timothy and Samantha are both fine! We just had a great lunch together as a family and they were awesome!
Last night I forgot something very important before putting my kids to bed: I FORGOT TO TELL THEM I'M ON DUTY TODAY! So, as I write this post, my wife is about 15 minutes or so away from my son realizing that his father isn't at home!
My children aren't so fragile that they can't be talked to about my duty days, but a scant few weeks after returning from a deployment is not the time to be simply disappearing from their lives again.
The night before previous duty days, I would lie in bed with each child and explain that I have to be gone for 24 hours, but that I will miss them and hurry home the following day as quickly as I can. I've watched as Timothy has been doing better as each duty day passes, but at first he was visibly bothered by my absence so close to returning from deployment. I hope today doesn't hurt him today.
I have two things going in my favor today. First, it is a Saturday, and once I'm off watch (five hours from now) my kids and Alicia are coming to see me for lunch. That will help a great deal. Secondly, and most importantly, Alicia is a champ and can handle, by now, the worse my forgetfulness can throw at her. If anyone can help my young children understand why their father is gone, it's her. I have absolute faith in her. But I am sorry for the situation I put her in.
So we'll see how it goes!