Oh yes, Jason is home!
I know I haven’t written in over a month. This wasn’t for lack of wanting to. Reintegration can be rough in patches, and the last thing I wanted to do was write about it while my closest friends still had hubbies deployed with our company. But guess what? The boys are back in town! (You know you just heard that song go through your head.)
So, it’s open season on the pain in the butt called reintegration.
Midtour is like this little honeymoon period. You don’t care what time they get up in the morning, where they leave their clothes or what they want to watch on tv. You refuse to fight and you’re willing to do whatever they want whenever they want. This is because it’s temporary. You’re so grateful to have each other for just those couple of weeks, and you are willing to brush aside any pet peeve, any control or scheduling issue you have for those 2 weeks.
Such is not the case when they come back for good.
In our case, the first couple of weeks are amazing. First off, Jason’s sleep cycle was out of whack. This meant that he was up at random times during the night, but he was always up early in the morning, which equaled him getting up with the kids. It was the most thoughtful thing he could have done. I didn’t sleep the entire deployment. I went to bed around 2 or 3 am every night, and I was up before 7 am for the boys. Big. Hot. Mess. I’m talking so tired that you’re nauseous before your feet hit the hardwood. Jason has been letting me catch up, and it feels amazing to function on a full night of sleep again. I feel like maybe I can start to sort out my head.
That’s not to say there aren’t rough patches. Any military spouse who has been through this before understands that while you’re ecstatic to have your soldier home, you’re also busting your butt to make room for them in the life they left. With Jason home, everything seems a little bit “more.” There’s more laundry, more dirty dishes, more shoes left lying about. There’s also more kisses, more hugs, more giggles, more laughter. More events to take into consideration, more… everything. For the last year, I haven’t really cooked, unless you count opening a bag of chicken nuggets and artfully placing them on a baking stone to cook to perfection. 😉 The kids have always been rather picky, so when he’s gone, it’s just easier to feed them what they like. Which means that they’ve been living on anything that could be cooked in one pot, or baked straight out of the freezer. Funny thing about grown men though, they’re not too keen on the idea of cereal for dinner. So I’m remembering how to cook again, scheduling time again that doesn’t include “open bag, pour contents onto baking sheet.”
In most ways, it feels like he never left. You know, except that he’s never lived in this house before. But it really seems like we were never apart. Everything about him is familiar. Everything about us is just the way it’s always been: Perfect. Maybe it’s like labor, it’s easy to forget the pain you just endured when so much love is in your arms. But there are little reminders. There’s a new tempur-pedic pillow on our bed that he ordered while he was in Afghanistan. Part of me resents the hell out of that pillow, because in my overly-analytical brain, it felt like he pushed the old pillow out of the way for something he had brought home from war. Kind of like what was here wasn’t good enough for him any more. The reality? He has a bulging disc in his neck, and the pillow helps to stabilize it while he sleeps. Completely understandable. Whatever. I still hate the damn pillow.
Jason’s first few days home, we did some simple house shopping. While maneuvering that hellishly large cart around Sams, we saw a cute little recliner. “I should order that and have it shipped there,” he said absentmindedly. “It would be awesome to have.” I tried to ignore the comment. I tried to put it out of my head, but later, while we were taking a look at on demand movies and series recently out on Netflix, he mentioned purchasing some new seasons to load up for when he went back. It was hard to smile and be understanding when all I wanted to shout was “BE HERE!” Please, be here, not just in body, but in mind too.
It’s the little things, like when we’ll sit down to watch a movie and he’s already seen it, or he’s two seasons ahead of a television show we used to watch. Things that make you take a step back and think, “Oh. That’s right. We were apart for a year.” We’ve each had a year of experiences, a year of hardship, a year of conquering things we didn’t think we could do. Am I annoyed that he skipped ahead two seasons in Dexter? Sure, but it’s nothing I can’t make up while I’m folding laundry so we can get our mommy/daddy couch snuggling session on. Besides, I’m sure he’s equally annoyed that I know where the boyscout badges go and where every small item in the kitchen is. We’ll figure it out.
We’ve both had our moments this last month where we’ve had to raise our hands and say “Hey! I’m here too!” What can I say, for the last year, we’ve both done whatever we wanted when we wanted without consideration for the other person. We made tons of time to skype and such, but if we were hungry, we ate whatever we wanted to. We ran errands when we wanted to, we worked however we thought best. But now we’re back to being a team, and not only are we realizing that, but we need to vocalize our needs, our concerns. We’re rocking it out.
The kids have adjusted. Well, kind of. The bigs are over the moon to have Jason home, and though it stings when they cheer when it’s just Jason taking them to football, I understand. They missed their daddy, plain and simple. Besides, it’s pretty nice to be toasty in the house while the padding-clothed men bash each other in the cold. I’m good with it. Chase is doing well with Jason being home. He’s all over him all of the time. Brody, on the other hand, asks where I am the minute Jason plucks him out of his crib. He’s attached to me like a baby kangaroo. I’m not worried about it, it’s just Brody.
So here we are. Still adjusting, not ready to take stock. We’re just enjoying each other. Enjoying being a complete family once again. Working out the kinks and filling in any gaps that developed during this year apart. We haven’t gotten to the nitty gritty. We haven’t poked at our foundation, or evaluated the question of why we continue to live our lives like this. Quite frankly, already knowing when he’s going back means that we’re just trying to make the most of the time we do have. We’re making room for each other again, and we’re basking in the warm, fuzzy glow of being a completed family again.
Besides, there’s plenty of time for anything and everything else, later. We have the time.