Three nights ago I realized that Air Force Guy and I had reached yet another reintegration milestone: the one where I'm constantly irritated.
I know how irritated I am. And I feel horrible about it. But I'm still irritated. Let me give you some examples:
"That's not the route I take to swim team practice!"
"Why are you parking there?"
"Why did you drink all my almond milk without telling me!"
"What do you MEAN you didn't check to make sure the boy was wearing underwear before boxing practice?"
I'm not a pleasant person to live with at the moment. I get that. And I'm truly working on it. There are no excuses, but after talking to a few people who have been through the same thing (and having gone through it myself eleventy million times already), I also know it's normal.
I mean, really. This has been *MY* house for the last year. I was the only one who drank almond milk here, so I always knew how much milk I had. And since I was the only one driving the kids to every sport and club in the Continental United States, it was my way or don't go. In the course of the year I tried every possible combination of back roads, toll roads, and highways in the DC Metro area to arrive at the shortest travel time to and from activities. It was a well oiled machine, our activities commute was. And I was proud of it.
But my husband, having been off on a lovely, all-expense-paid-vacation courtesy of Uncle Sam, wasn't familiar with the algorithyms and sweat that had gone into the creation of the activities commutes and so he would get in the car, flip on the GPS (which has some kind of strange love affair with the toll roads of the area), and head off into the sunset.
I totally overreacted. I'll own it, I went to that bad place. And my husband was incredibly nice about it - he asked me, "Why are you always so irritated at me now?"
Which is when I realized that I had to step back a bit. My house is actually our house. We share it. We both live here, which means accomodations have to be made on both sides.
For example, I had gotten used to making a midnight loo-run without turning on the lights. I have insomnia in the best of times, there's no sense in waking myself up again when I have to go to the bathroom at 3 am. Now that my husband is home, that light is a self-defense mechanism. It kind of defeats the purpose of trying to stay half-asleep when you plop your rear end down into freezing cold water because someone didn't put the seat down. I had totally forgotten about that habit.
On the other hand, Air Force Guy has had someone to do his laundry for the last year. Someone who picks it up, washes it (badly, and only dries the outside of it), and brings it back. I'm not interested in being the only clothes washer here. Nor do I want to be the only one advocating use of a hamper.
Another discovery AFG and I have made together is that there is enough room to air-dry either my Under Armour or his Under Armour. But not both our Under Armour at the same time. Which neatly ties into that whole laundry issue. Luckily Under Armour dries quickly - that whole "moisture wicking" phenomenon. We just had to institute a system.
And after talking about this many, many times with AFG, I also realized yet another issue that was affecting my irritation levels: I was relieved. When your spouse is deployed, you spend that time with your stomach clenched in a nasty ball. You learn to live with that clenched stomach, you even sort of forget it is there sometimes - but it never goes away. And sometimes it is worse than others. There is also a tendency to become more superstitious - at least for me. When my husband is gone, he is a saint. I won't say a bad thing about him - even if his favorite pastime while home had been kicking puppies. I'm acutely aware that, while he's there, everything I say to him or about him might be the last thing I ever say to or about him. And so I'm very conscious of what I say.
That doesn't mean that the normal irritations of married life don't affect me while he's gone - that whole being Pepper Potts thing gets old. I get really tired, really quick of being the go-to person whenever his mom has an issue (which is way more frequent than it should be). I hate paying bills. And did I mention that I had to do the taxes this year? Add the IRS stomach clench to the Deployment stomach clench and see how many ulcers come out of that one. It's not pretty, people. Not pretty at all.
But regardless of irritation, the deployment mindset is that you put that aside for later. Which I did.
But now he's home. And I'm relieved. The clenched stomach is gone, the taxes are done, and I had completely forgotten how good it feels to just be normal. And normal people get irritated - except that I had a year of irritation already built up that I had to let out somehow.
Thank goodness AFG is an understanding guy! And I try to turn that understanding around to some of the pecadillos he brought back home with him.
In the meantime, I have asked AFG to call me Mrs. Whiny McCrankipants whenever my irritation seems to be getting the best of me. Which will hopefully hit an even keel soon, as I think I have unloaded all the IRS/Mother-in-Law/children's school/bills/house repairs/car repairs/controlling the remote control/cleaning up dog poop irritation that had built up. I think.