For six months, you spend day in and day out missing your better half. You wonder how you will cope with single parenting while your spouse is gone. How will you choose to discipline or redirect your child’s behavior in the absence of one of his parents?
You decide to not pick up toys every night. It is just going to become a mess as soon as you wake up again, and honestly, you are too exhausted to do one more chore alone. The laundry is piled high; your son has worn the same pants for the past 4 days, and on some days your pajamas are your work clothes.
You eat from the crock pot 98% of the time, and Mickey Mouse has replaced the nightly news at dinner. You crave eating at the dinner table with another adult, sharing a glass of wine and discussing how your day went.
Going to the bathroom has become your minute of solitude and quiet, and you wake up a little earlier to enjoy your coffee in peace, planning out how you will conquer the day as mom and dad; as good cop and the bad cop. As the most patient loving mother ever, and as the most irritated human being on the planet.
Yet somewhere in the chaos of it all, you find an odd synchronism to your day, your week, your month. You find that you are much more independent on your own than you thought you would be, and you find that you CAN indeed keep your child alive on your own. Wine, good neighbors, and great friends have become your new family, and you feel as if nothing can stop you.
Then all of sudden there is a deep disparity in your heart. Your loved one is days from coming home, and you can not do enough to be ready for the rejoining of this family. You still love your spouse more than anything, and you long for the warmth of their embrace, yet, something is off. You have just gone 6 long months as your own person, and so have they. And while not much has changed, and you are still the same person you were before they left, you somehow aren’t.
I did not realize that the homecoming of my spouse would be harder than his departure. I did not realize that it would take work, and time, to rekindle the relationship we had before. I didn’t know that the schedule I had fallen into with my son would be rocked yet again, and that we would have to find some middle ground to agree on as far as why I ate dinner at 6:45 pm without my husband while he was still at work.
I didn’t realize it would hurt to ask my husband for a day to myself, and that it would hurt me just as much when he agreed he also needed space. No one told me this about deployment.
No one told me we would all go through it, when I felt like I was the only one.
No one talks about how awkward it is, even after years of marriage, to pee with the door open while your spouse was in the room next to you.
There really isn’t a good answer on how to resolve this, other than patience. Realize that it is okay for you to still have the independence you gained while your spouse was away, because you will need it for their next deployment. Understand that everyone needs a break from each other at times, and that doesn’t mean you love each other any less than you did before. Know you will fall back into a groove with each other, but you need to communicate. Talk to your girlfriends and realize that you are not dealing with this alone – it’s NORMAL.
Finally, accept that this is truly a phase of deployment, and just like the long 6 months you couldn’t wait for to be over, this too, shall pass.