My son, Cpl. Dark Prince, USMCR, deployed in March of this year. That day of deployment, as many of you have experienced, is the lowest point in a mil parent/milspouse's life. It just sucks like a Dyson, doesn't it? You are right at the beginning of a deployment. The clock has just started but (thank God) it has FINALLY started!! You walk away after saying goodbye to your husband, wife, son or daughter thinking something like "Well..I don't have to live that moment again.. at least for now."
But at the other end of the deployment, there be dragons as well....
For starters, you end up playing homecoming date roulette with your Family Readiness Group/Family Readiness Officer. There's a "window" of homecoming. That window can be as long as 7 days or as small as two but the bottom line is that nobody really knows when EXACTLY your loved one is coming home at the beginning of the homecoming phase.. It wreaks havoc on those who are coming in from out of state and trying to make hotel/flight reservations. For this deployment, we are in that category. It's frustrating but trust me...everyone else is frustrated as well. If you are dealing with this right now or soon to be dealing with this, you're in good company. We all are playing on that roulette wheel.
If you are traveling to a homecoming, make sure that you have the FRG/FRO/Battalion contact phone number. This will be your lifeline once you get to where you're going and awaiting your loved one doing the same. They will have the latest updates/ changes in times and locations, etc. Tattoo that damned number on your arm if need be but make sure you have it.
Be flexible. In the Marine Corps, we refer to this as Semper Gumby. I know that's an easy thing to type and I also know that's not an easy thing to do You.still.have.to.do.it. Things change. Quickly. Be ready for that. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, things will change. It's the one thing you can count on.
Between now and the actual homecoming, there are things that you can do to keep busy. Make a welcome home sign for your husband, wife, son or daughter. I've seen some very clever signs so I'm a little intimidated as I contemplate what I want to put on a sign to welcome my son home. I'm not very artistic so if you saw a cute sign at a homecoming, comment here and let me know. I don't mind being a copycat. I just mind not having a cool sign.
Get with your FRG/FRO and see if they need folks to make the beds in the barracks for the guys coming back. Seriously, if you just off a 30+ hour flight from Kuwait..the last thing you want to do is make your own bed. This is something that we as milspouses/milparents/families can do to help welcome our guys home. It doesn't take long but it does help pass the time as you wait for your loved one to come home.
If your child left all of his civilian clothes at home (mine did as well as giving me some clothes that had been cooking in his room for several days before he left..ugghh!!) , you might want to consider bringing some of them down to him/her. They will just love getting out of their utilities/cammies.
Most importantly, savor the moment of homecoming. You have earned this moment too. Don't dwell on the stuff you didn't do or the problems that you had with the deployment. Those are things for another day. On the day of homecoming, pat yourself on the back for surviving and hug your child. Hard. Close. Revel in the moment. There are few moments as joyous as this one