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He's Back! Now What?

Air Force Guy has been back from deployment for about a week and a half now. So, on one hand - YAY! It's been great to have him back - that worry you scrunch down to the bottom of your stomach? I feel strangely light now that it's gone. That insomnia that was keeping me up until three or four in the morning? I'm usually asleep by 11 at the latest now. And - as all deployment veteran wives know, the *ahem* frustration level has dropped to nothing (although we still have months to make up for, and I do plan on making them up).

Life is good.

On the other hand...

 

Now, I don't mean to complain here, and I hope everyone can take this in the vein that it is intended. But Holy Santa on Roller Skates! having another person in the house takes some getting used to! Just for starters, this morning I woke up ready to have at my Raisin Bran with almond milk... and the almond milk was gone! Frustrating. Totally.

Also, there is a distinct lack of electrical outlets in the bathroom now. I had forgotten how much shaving paraphernalia one man needs, and they have edged out my hair dryer in a focused and well planned flanking maneuver that took me completely by surprise. My bathroom electronics are relegated to underneath the sink now.

AFG and I do not agree on the best routes to take to get places. I like back roads, he is willing to risk the capricious whims of the DC area traffic on highways. And while my normal woman sized shoes do not take up too much room in the entryway, his supersized man shoes seem to stretch across the entire hallway and sneak up to trip me every time we go in or out of the door.

In short, even though the TV shows and newspaper coverage like to end their homecoming stories with that awesome first kiss on home soil, that is most certainly not the end of it of for us - we have reintegration. And it can be a doozy.

This is our umpteenth reintegration in Air Force Family, and by this point we've developed some rather finely tuned senses about how it will go. I don't think this one will be too bad - we've got the regular adjustments to make, but nothing that will drag on or cause overly intense moments. Don't get me wrong - we've been in that place, too, and on both sides.

When AFG returned from a rather intense 4 months of training, which he left for just a few months after returning from Iraq, I spent six months feeling like I was walking on eggshells. I was the odd person out - not in the military and not in the civilian world, either. Everyone was thanking AFG for his service, everyone wanted to take him out to dinner, and I was not a part of the "Buddy Club" that military members develop amongst themselves. In short - I was along for the ride and to take care of laundry. And I resented it tremendously. I felt that AFG deserved the attention he was getting without a doubt, he had been putting his life on the line. But I also kind of wished that people would see that I was not merely a passenger in the whole journey. I felt like no one noticed that AFG was able to put on his super suit and go save the world because I was willing to change my own life-plans to allow for holding down the home-front while AFG was gone. I kind of wished people had offered to take ME out to dinner while he was gone and I needed a serious break from kids and some adult conversation. I never said it, because I felt guilty for secretly wanting (but not really wanting, if you know what I mean) some attention and a back pat for what I was doing and giving up as well. And, I'll be honest here, sometimes I was downright jealous that my part of the military family equation had as much inherent sexy coolness as a dose of Metamucil. And at the same time I felt guilty about feeling like that way, as well.

Air Force Family also had a reintegration that went the other direction - where the odd person out was the person who was returning, Air Force Guy. During one deployment his mother lost her mind. Literally. She full scale descended into dementia while AFG was in Afghanistan, and I spent the entire length of his deployment trying to move a crazy, angry, Russian woman with unbounded hatred for her daughter-in-law (me) into a care facility that could, and was willing to, care for her. There were lawyers, there were ombudsmen, there were social workers, and it all culminated in a a plane trip across the country with four children and a pit bull to move her (did I mention she bites?), clean out her house, and figure out what to do with it. All by myself, since AFG has no siblings and his mother is widowed. And let me add here that the elder care system in the United States is not set up to deal with issues that arise with elderly family members while service-members are deployed.

I was not in a good place when AFG came home, and this time he was the one who felt like walking on eggshells for six months.

That homecoming kiss definitely does not mean happily ever after.

It does mean, though, that we can finally move on to start ever after. And that is something.

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