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You Mean *I* Have a Problem?

When Hubs deployed and I flew solo in managing the house, our kids, my job, the dogs, etc., it took me a couple weeks to find my groove.  Not to say there were not skips in my record along the way or that I was in any way 100% perfect-o.  But, the girls and I developed a rhythm to which we danced (and occasionally twisted ourselves into pretzels) each day. 

The prize at the end of the dance marathon?  DADDY WOULD BE HOME.

What happens, though, when Daddy comes home and NONE of the ‘what to expect during the homecoming phase’ addresses what happened to YOU?

Daddyshome_1 Hubs found himself fitting right back into the swing of things when he came home.  This photo shows him with the girls within three minutes of stepping through our front door.  M2 insisted he read Go, Dog! Go! before he did anything else.  Talk about a drill instructor!!  Aside from the promised shortness in his communication, his failed attempts to have two young girls marching to his orders, and some interesting issues with his fitfulness at night, he didn’t do too badly at first.  Later, we dealt with the typical and routine bulleted list of "returning home issues", but early on Hubs didn’t have the issues…I did.

No one warned me what could happen to me when Hubs returned.  And, truthfully, if they did, I didn’t listen.  I was focused with laser beams on the date he was to be home and concentrated solely on helping him readjust.  I completely disregarded what this deployment had meant to me and how I might find myself responding to having him home.

I had no idea how hard it would be to turn off my twenty-four-hour per day, seven days per week hyper-vigilance mode.  For months and months, I’d awakened to every little sound.  I’d been responsible for checking every lock, every window and patrolling for monsters, real and imagined.  I realized soon after Hubs arrived home that I probably had not slept, really slept, in a very long time. 

The other surprise is that:  I had trouble hearing my husband.  No!  He hadn’t lost his voice yelling at his young ‘uns while overseas.  What Hubs soon discovered is that I had become quite adept at tuning out the buzz that accompanies two young girls who entertain themselves while their mother cooks, cleans, does laundry and occasionally collapses onto the couch in utter exhaustion.  Unfortunately, I’d also forgotten how to tune in to Hubs and very soon received a stern, "You aren’t listening to me when I talk!" 

Imagine that.

For weeks after he left, my ears physically ached straining to hear a voice I knew was no longer in the same zip code.  Now, here he was, home and I had trained myself to stop listening for him.  It took some retraining (and lots of repetition on his part), but I’m now a much more responsive listener…most of the time!

The final issue I had to work out was relinquishing control.  For someone who swore she couldn’t wait to turn a lion’s share of tasks over to Hubs when he returned home, I certainly clung tight to the ropes when he did arrive home.  I felt a real loss of control when Hubs left and I think I held on to my routine and tasks while he was away to feel more normal and in control.  I knew rationally I didn’t want to do it all long before I didn’t need to do it all.

Okay…I’ve opened up my big bag of neuroses for you.  Your turn to show and tell.  What can you, as an experienced Milspouse share with the newbies?  For those of you in the midst of a deployment, what concerns do you have about him/her coming home?

About Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at www.5forHope.com and maintains her individual blog at www.mostcertainlynot.typepad.com.