Most of us are familiar with this image:
With all the romance and nostalgia this photo evokes, you might be led to believe we military folk lead extraordinarily dramatic lives.
Well, we do. Sort of.
For some, the deployments get easier. I don’t agree. The longer we are together, I seem to love him more and in different ways. For me, the deployments get harder. Yes, I know what to expect, and how to rely on myself and get stuff done, but I just like my hubby, I like to hang out with him and cringe at the thought of another chunk of time spent apart. The drama of being separated definitely proves the point that absence makes the heart grow fonder. We miss each other. Desperately. We hang on the phone as long as possible until they have to head back to work, (or sleep as they are into the next day on the other side of the world) or the kids are just making it to0 dang difficult to carry on a coherent conversation. We look forward to emails and calls and Skype conversations and feel lucky to be living in an age where we no longer have to rely on snail mail.
But what happens when the deployment is over? We live happily ever after until the next deployment, right?
Well, yes, and no. There is that honeymoon period where it’s all romantic and fun and frankly, it does resemble a honeymoon of sorts. As much as we plan and prepare for that perfect homecoming; the outfit, getting “prettied up” with facials, waxes, haircuts, etc., getting the kids’ outfits right, doing all the stuff around the house (mowing the lawn, cleaning the car) so you don’t have to do anything pressing for a little while, the banners on the side of the house that say “Welcome Home” – all of it – it’s great. It’s fun, and a good way to get the kids excited and participating in the homecoming festivities. The anticipation is similar to waiting for Santa at Christmas, and it seems to be amplified each time we go through this process. But more often than not, it seems that despite all the planning – it never quite goes the way I imagine it.
Usually there are other factors involved:
- He’s jet lagged, tired and/or sick.
- The kids get sick.
- The flight/ship home arrives at some ungodly hour so we are dragging sleeping kids/babies along
- I want to go see everyone and parade him around, he wants to be home and just sleep
- He wants to go visiting our family/friends, I don’t want to share him yet
- I want to “celebrate”, he wants to have a home-cooked meal. (Hello, ship food?! Blegh!)
- Gasp! He has ideas of plans HE wants to do. What?! I’ve been making all the decisions for a year! Now I have to check in with someone else?!
- I’ve vacation/adventure plans for the months after homecoming, he’s made plans too – but they fall on the same days/weeks!
- The kids end up staying up way too late, resulting in cranky behavior
- The kids getting up way too early, despite being up past bed time
- The kids interfere with “other” activities!
You get the idea. While homecomings are highly emotional, very romantic and dramatic, I’ve found that the fewer expectations I place on the actual event, the better off we all are. Laying low and taking the time to just be with each other as a family is really all we need for a while. The bills, the to-do lists and the summer plans can wait. There will be time for all of that.
For now, at homecoming, my “plan” is to just enjoy the moment, let it flow and watch the kids’ faces light up again when they get to see and be with their daddy.
And I can’t wait.