Air Force Guy's current deployment is rapidly coming to a close - although it seems like the days are moving more slowly than my kids when I call bedtime, the time altogether seems to be hurtling like a freight train towards homecoming day.
What this means to me, of course, is that the last two weeks have been filled with stress and upset about all the things that I didn't get done, the things I should have started, the fact that my house isn't clean enough, and my rear end isn't small enough. In fact, I have christened the mad sprint I am going through right now (which centers around 9 boxing/kickboxing workouts a week and the most boring - albeit healthy - eating plan ever devised by a professional dietitian) "Operation Make My A** Smaller".
This is far from our first deployment or homecoming. I should know better by now, but it seems I never truly learn. And it probably doesn't help that I have a competitive streak the size of a politician's ego - I made a goal for myself and I'm going to reach it, so help me, if it's the last thing I do. The floor will be scrubbed, the beds will be made, my hair will be perfect, and I will fit into that next size down jeans or I will kick and punch and bob and weave until I fall over dead in the ring. Then I won't need the jeans, so it all works out in my mind.
The very first SpouseBUZZ Live was the first time I ever heard armywifetoddlermom talk about her husband's homecoming and the feelings that it brought out. I vividly remember her telling about the stress that culminated in her, exhausted, trying to iron a duvet so things would be perfect.
Because that's what we all want. We want the perfect picture - the perfectly scrubbed kids that clap and jump and hug (but know when to stop and don't get overwhelmed with emotion), the perfect welcome home kiss, the sparkling house that knocks him for a loop when he walks in, and the body that makes him want to stop at a hotel on the way home. We want the storybook memory that we take out and refer to again and again as life goes on. We want this beautiful outward proof that everything we did, and managed, and held in emotionally was worth it. And somehow, that proof often becomes wrapped up in appearances and behavior we really can't control (especially the kids - I'm the meanest mom I know and just today my kids felt that it would be socially acceptable for them to start throwing punches at each other over who would win a Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee match up while we were in Red Hot and Blue. BTW - Bruce Lee won, historical fact).
And I know by now that the perfect day I plan is going to have hitches. There are always hitches, no matter how often I hit the gym. Life is a hitch. And I'm going to feel let down when that hitch happens, because I always do. And there is nothing I can do to stop this - it's like that Nicholas Cage movie where he knows what's going to happen right before it happens. I know, but I can't stop it.
I've gotten advice from several of my friends, "AFW - he's not going to care if you have one eye, a case of laryngitis, and a hump on your back when he gets home, as long as you've shaved your legs. He'll just be so happy to be home and with you all that nothing else matters." And intellectually I know this is true. I've lived it multiple times now, I know how it goes. I've even said this to people I see stressing out as homecoming time looms ever more near.
But emotionally, it never registers. Never. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it never will.
So, I'm going to keep it up - the workouts, the boring food, the manic cleaning sessions. And a few months after he gets home I'm going to wonder why on earth I was so obsessive, when it was clearly not necessary. I'll chastise myself and vow that I will never get so obsessive and blinded by tunnel vision again. I know this.
And then next time I'll start the same cycle over.