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Today I received the call. My daughter told me that she was deploying. My first question? How long? At the words nine months, my heart dropped.

My little girl is deploying and all I can see is her kneeling at the kitchen table with her red hair in pigtails as she blows out three small candles on her birthday cake.

It’s not that my family is unfamiliar with deployments. My husband spent 30 years in the Army and deployments were a fact of life that we handled well. It’s just that when my husband deployed, I was supporting the man I loved in the career he loved. Besides, he was trained, smart and strong.

My daughter? I still remind her to take her car in for servicing, to keep extra water on hand and not to forget to call Grandma. She’s the one I’ve protected and watched over for the past 23 years. If I could, I would’ve kept her safe behind a desk in a climate controlled office. Preferably with a company close at hand so that I could drop by and take her to lunch.

But my daughter had other dreams. She wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. To serve her country. To blaze a path for other women to follow. So as I adjust to my new reality, I have to remember that my daughter is also well trained. She’s smart, clever and innovative. Not only is she strong of body, she’s strong of mind and will. When she puts her mind to it, she moves mountains.

After all, she is her father’s daughter. And she will make us proud. As usual.