Every time that He of the Sea returns from the sea, or wherever he's been for three days/three weeks/three months, I try to get our lives together so that it least appears that I've been Superwoman while he was gone. Depending on the length of absence, this might include something as simple as making sure the kitchen is clean and the sheets are freshly washed or it might include hanging new curtains, rearranging furniture and scrubbing bathrooms extra clean. Regardless, I always have the same questions: Is this a good idea? Is it helpful? Is it welcoming? Or does it just make me crazy?
That might seem silly: of course HotS wants to come home to a calm, peaceful, non-disaster area home. Who wouldn't? The questions are bigger than that, of course. Our home is never peaceful and calm. Why would I try to pretend that it is, just because HotS has been gone? Is it helpful for me to run around like a mad woman, or would it be more helpful if I just put myself in a calm and peaceful state of mind and let the house be regular old untidy and nutsy? Plus, no matter how much work I do, the place is usually still in some sort of chaos when the door opens. So what is the point of all that effort? (I know I'm not the only person who has complained when their spouse comes home early. Sad, but true.)
Another aspect of this questioning has to do with our family's ability to function without HotS. It's obvious that we can survive when he's gone, and we do try to thrive despite missing an important member of our family. But do we want it to look like we are more together when he's gone? What kind of message does that send? What I don't want to do is convey the idea that we're happier/healthier/more organized when he's not here. Our routines are different when he's gone. Some aspects of them might be better, such as eating dinner at a reasonable hour instead of waiting for Daddy to get home. As a whole, however, life is always better when our family is together.
So, what's a milspouse to do? Turn my Animal House home into House Beautiful after every absence (ha!), leave the papers stacked on the bedside table but take the time to make myself beautiful, or some compromise between the two?