My thoughts on Operation: Love ReUnited

Today, I'd like to share with you two homecomings from this past weekend....and I'd like to take this opportunity to talk with my fellow photographer friends who might be reading this blog about why I am involved in Operation: Love ReUnited and why I urge them to get involved, too.

If you are a photographer (or an aspiring photographer!) and you live in the Hampton Roads area, we need you!  We are overwhelmed with requests for homecoming sessions when the aircraft carrier groups arrive back from their long deployments.  Unfortunately, there are less than 15 participating photographers listed in the finder for this area and thousands of families awaiting their loved one.

I have heard a few photographers explain why they don't participate.  Some have had bad experiences - families who have not thanked them, families who have expected too much or taken advantage of the program, or specific circumstances which were less than ideal.  But I would challenge those who have had not-so-great experiences to give it another try in the New Year.  Personally,  I have had wonderful experiences this year with OpLove.  Nearly all of my families have shown me great appreciation - and I try not to let those not-so-great experiences I've had take away from my overall perception of OpLove.  Yes, it's inconvenient at times (I really could have used these past few days to finish up Christmas shopping or get my house ready for the 15 relatives coming over for Christmas Eve dinner {what AM I planing to cook for that many people??}.  Yes, schedules change at the last minute with homecoming sessions.  Yes, it can be cold (my feet were FROZEN this morning!) or hot (in VaBch in July it's sweltering out on the pier!).  But it is also incredibly rewarding to see those happy tears in the eyes of a mom or wife...the daddies hold their child for the first time...the proud parents coming to welcome back their child from serving overseas.  To capture those memories for a family is truly priceless.

If you have participated in the past and have given up, PLEASE consider giving it a try again.  Take one family, one homecoming, one more time in 2011 and just see what happens.  You may be surprised!

Our sailors give up so much for us and for our freedom.  They live on big, gray, floating cities...they sleep in teeny, tiny racks....they eat less than gourmet meals...and have little in the way of entertainment choices for their long deployments overseas.  As an American, I support our troops and as a citizen, I thank them.  But as a woman, I feel especially for the wives of these sailors.  The mothers who are left behind to play the part of Mommy AND Daddy for 6 months.

6 months

Anyone who has endured a deployment knows how long 6 months really is.

For a mother, 6 months is:

-180 bedtime/bathtime routines

-540 meals to prepare and clean up after

-900 diaper changes

-entire seasons of soccer practices and early morning games, school plays, dance performances, gymnastics practice, etc.

-fixing cars, appliances, (or your children's broken bones)

-celebrating birthdays, holidays, and family occasions as a partial family

-18,392 (or so!) answers  to "When is Daddy coming home?"

-4,320 hours of being a single parent

-259,200 minutes missing the love of your life

So I donate my time and talents as much for the mothers, fathers, and children left behind as I do for the sailors and soldiers who serve our country.  It is the least I can do - and the hugs, the kisses, the joy, plain and simple, on their faces at their homecomings give back to me just as much. I hope you enjoy these two Homecoming Stories. If so, please leave me some love at the bottom of this post in the comment section! Thank you and Merry Christmas to all!