So we made it! Through our latest deployment, that is. My husband very recently returned from nine months away. He missed birthdays, holidays, and approximately half our toddler’s life. There was a lot of stress and loneliness, but now he’s back!
I’d love to say that everything has been perfect, but of course it hasn’t. If you’re currently waiting on your service member to return from a deployment, training, school, or anything else, let me offer you one piece of advice — do not expect things to be perfect when he or she gets back. I must admit, I let myself fall into this trap this time around. My husband was coming back. Everything would be so wonderful and so much easier than it had been. Life would be an extravaganza of perfection. I would look amazing at all times and my child would behave like an angel. Needless to say, I had some ridiculous expectations.
Two days after my husband’s return, my car broke down in spectacular fashion while I was on my way to pick him up, leaving me stranded on the side of the road in tears. In the rain. The cost of the repairs also left me pretty close to tears. A few days after that my daughter got sick. Several days later she got sick with something else. Then a couple days after that she had an adverse reaction to the medication she was taking for one of her many plagues. All in all, we visited our lovely pediatrician’s office seven times in a two-week period, prompting me to consider simply sleeping there. And speaking of sleep, the various illnesses and the excitement of having her dad back put a temporary stop to my daughter’s peaceful eleven-hour nights and brought us back to the rock-and-roll all night, party every day sleeplessness of her infancy.
So instead of the relaxing, stress-free reunion I envisioned having with my husband, everything was a complicated, overwhelming mess. It had turned out to be a lot like real life… Luckily, my car is fixed, my daughter is fine, and we’re all enjoying each other’s company. Now that I’m not staying up all night, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or crying, I can pause to appreciate the fact that while things are never perfect, they are still pretty great.
Often in life, and especially when it comes to both parenthood and the military, our expectations clash with reality. It can be so disheartening when things don’t go according to plan. It can certainly help to commiserate with other parents about what you’re going through. Hello Mamas, a social networking site for moms, or InDependent Communities can be great resources for finding other military moms to connect with. I felt like my husband’s return was an absolute disaster, but talking to friends helped me realize that all the mishaps were something to laugh about, and having him back was pretty wonderful all by itself.
Do you have a homecoming disaster story? Share in the comments so we can know we’re not alone when things don’t go perfectly.