6

We Don’t Need No Reintegration

This family is completely out of whack.  During deployment we rolled along, sure.  But we were running like one of our tires was firmly mounted on a 6000-mile axel.

Now that Brad is home, we need to be rotated and rebalanced.

The military wants to call this process “reintegration.” That term sounds sinister to me.  It brings to mind stories I’ve heard from our SpouseBuzz readers and contributors:  The patrolling the house at night. The aggressive driving. The waking up with nightmares.  The anger. The alcohol. The violence. The constant readiness.

That kind of reintegration is real.

Yet this thing that our family is doing feels like something else.  Cue Pink Floyd because this time we don’t need no “reintegration.”

What we need is a rebalancing. That is what is really going on in our family right now—we are out of balance.

During these long months of deployment, I did what every spouse does during deployment.  I created a very mom-centric kind of life.

I, after all, am here.  I decide what time we have dinner.  I decide when our son needs a haircut.  I pick which friends we see and what we watch on TV and how cold the air conditioning needs to be and what time the lights go out at night.

My preferences and my strengths rule during deployment because everything under this roof is my responsibility.  That works pretty well for us–during deployment.

This will not work now that Brad is home.  It isn’t because he is some kind of crazy, Santini-like tyrant wresting control away from me and grinding me under his heel.

This mom-centric way of life won’t work because Brad isn’t me.

Brad is particular on how the cars are kept.  I think that if the cars are in the driveway in the morning I have done my job.

Brad likes to keep the washer going so we always have a pile of half folded laundry on the dining room table.  I like to do laundry once a week and keep flowers on the table.

Brad’s idea of getting ready for homecoming was making a spreadsheet of all the fun we could have together cleaning out the barn and painting the kitchen.

My idea of getting ready for homecoming was putting together a collage (yes, a collage) of all the beach trips and crabfests and tubing we could do before summer ended.

We are a marriage of the doer and the slacker. The yin and the yang. The male and the female.

And I am not complaining. I’ve always thought that one of the most powerful lessons our family ever learned was that there was a mom way of doing things and a dad way of doing things– and both of those ways were pretty good.

It is that rebalance of the mom way and the dad way that we are putting back together this week.  Maybe you do call that reintegration.

According to Everybody Serves, the new free ebook about deployment from Blue Star Families, reintegration is supposed to refer to the entire process that occurs after deployment while families figure out the nuts and bolts of living together again. They say that for some families the process is long. For other families, the process is short.

Ours will probably be short this time.  It will be marked by a noticeably organized barn and lots of sand in the back seat of the car and a pile of laundry used as a centerpiece in our dining room.  Because what we are together is what we have both been thinking about for months–and we will do whatever it takes to bring it all back into balance.

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

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About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.