When my then-fiancé was approaching his homecoming from Afghanistan in 2012, I was elated. I couldn’t wait for him to get home. We had no kids (makes it easy, right? No!), I had been eating well and working out and was the fittest I’ve ever been. I was ready!
But I didn’t realize it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and roses.
This go-around, I was prepared for the flipside of homecoming. The stuff no one talks about – arguments and issues, fighting for time together and for time apart. The kids need to adjust, and we need to adjust and you don’t really understand unless you live in our house. Emily, who had been having a LOT of sleep issues while Papa was away, still isn’t getting much better and it’s a work in progress. Neither Kevin or I have been getting enough time alone, or with each other, or one-on-one with each of our girls. We are spread pretty thin.
And so far, we seemed to be managing it all pretty well until something my three-year-old said two nights ago really stuck with me.
She was tired and cranky and wanted to be alone. We’ve all been there, and I get it. But when my husband walked over to her she looked him in the eye and said, “Go away from me, I don’t want you here!”.
Oh. Hell. No.
And so we all learned lessons that night but most importantly, as I reminded Emily how lucky we are to have her Papa home now, it highlights something that most families don’t learn through experience. We can not take a single day for granted.
I remember talking to my mom like that, as a kid, but very very rarely to my dad. Because get this – my mom stayed home with me. She was always there. But my dad? He was gone as much as he was home.
And it’s the same for grown ups too! We do things that annoy each other and then realize, ‘wait a second – how lucky are we!?’.
The flipside of homecoming can feel a little like getting thrown into a tornado when you were just excited for a little thunder & lightening storm. But – if you just hold onto each other tight…
I promise it’s worth it.