Military mama: Readjustment takes time

I’m a creature of habit, I like my routines. It is always so frustrating because when my hubby goes on short TDYs it takes approximately half the time he is gone to get used to doing things on my own, and then nearly twice the total days of his trip to get used to having him back.

I’m not sure how it is possible that there can be such a kink in the math logic there for the adapting period, but it seems like every military spouse I encounter feels similarly about the gone-then-home equation.

I do not mean to imply that I would rather have my honey away than at home, that is quite contrary to how I actually feel. I just hate the window on the back half of his trips. He gets used to doing things his own way, eating out, watching what he wants on TV and running his errands. When he returns he finds controlled chaos. Each day is filled with giggles, squeals and tears — most from the kids. His schedule then gets swallowed up by work and then instead of a peaceful break he finds a family wanting his attention. It’s no trip to the day spa.

The first day back he is a teddy bear because he genuinely missed us all. He makes up for lost time in the hugs and kisses departments. By day two, or so, the reality that there are diapers to be changed, laundry to be done, games to play, attention to give, crying for no particular reason, cartoons begging to be watched and stories to be read can get overwhelming.

I admit after flying solo for a little while I definitely want to take advantage of having an additional set of helping hands. I probably should continue to bear the brunt of the parental duties while John adapts to being home, but if I do it too well he might not recognize that I do indeed need his help. After all, I wouldn’t want him to feel un-needed. (Yeah, that’s it. I’ll spin it that way — I’m actually just exhausted.)

As with any major changes, the addition of a pet, sibling or the return of a parent can seriously alter the household dynamic. He wants to be the hero. Frankly, so do I. We try to take turns, because I’ve learned that we will never both be in good graces with all three kids at the same time. But when daddy gets back he is the good guy, so he occasionally lets things slide that he shouldn’t. And our oldest knows very well that he can use that to his advantage.

I am willing to be flexible when these TDYs arise, because after deployments we all understand that it can be a much longer and more difficult change of pace. Even though it is a challenge to adapt to him being away and again on his return. I am grateful that the majority of his time is spent safely at home.