I am completely aware that the fact that my husband came home from the war well and in one piece is monumental and I have profound gratitude for that. I will be forever grateful. But I have also learned that with all that happiness and gratitude that come with homecoming, there are also challenges to adjusting to the "new normal" of Reintegration, as many have called it.
1. Not feeling connected to our little girl. She wants to be with Daddy. I don't blame her. But I miss our little girl's club, the two of us working together every day as a team to stay brave and strong, support Daddy and get through deployment. It's different now.
2. The mess. It's seriously like an olive green explosion happened in our living room. Every time I leave for a couple of hours and come back it's worse. He's unpacking, but really it just seems like more stuff is getting stacked around the house. I'm laughing so I don't cry.
3. The intense energy. For the past year our home has been a quiet, spa-like environment for two girls. Mellow, pretty, calm. Now we have Military Channel explosions and super intense Tough Guy narration going on the TV regularly. There is way more noise coming from every direction.
4. How every room feels smaller. Having a big man bumping around the apartment makes every walkway and every room seems smaller. He bumps into everyone and everything. Trying to get anything done in our small kitchen while he's in there is impossible and it seems like every time I am in there, he's right behind me, trying to pass me, standing right where I am trying to work, trying to use the water when I am working at the sink, etc.
5. My inability to give two people my complete, undivided attention. I don't know how many times I've had both of them trying to get my attention, talking over each other. It's a little overwhelming. I am learning I have to pull back a bit and be sure to take care of myself, rather than letting them run me rugged.
6. The added dirty dishes. I feel like I've been cleaning the kitchen again and again every day. Hubs and Clementine have not been on the same schedule and there have been 6-7 meals fed to one or the other throughout the day for the past couple of days. That's not going to last, I'm not going to keep doing that. But it feels like we're feeding an army rather than just one extra body every day.
7. The overflowing fridge. Hubs loves to wander the grocery store. What was once a well-organized, half-empty fridge, that contained all the necessities for a week's planned out meals, is now overflowing. The entire front half of the fridge is full of designer fruit, tea and soda drinks and 20 varieties of Greek yogurt. I can't find anything and now I have to removed 10 little drink bottles and yogurt containers to find anything I have put in the fridge even just hours before. So frustrating.
8. Blasting our daily schedule to smithereens. To survive deployment a mom needs to have a very tight schedule. I found my way to that place and boy did it make life a LOT easier! Well that schedule disappeared the moment Hubs came through the door. The little one has been late to bed and nearly late to school every day for a week. Meal, prayer, bath and homework schedules are destroyed. Everything feels a day late and a dollar short. We'll find our way back, but I sure feel like things are out of control. That doesn't help me feel peaceful or calm.
9. Saying goodbye to hubs even for a few hours. I hate leaving him. I can't stand it. I think once he came home I let my heart get a little softer and now I feel more than I did when I had my heart somewhat safely boarded up and protected during deployment. It's hard to say goodbye, even when I know I'll see him in a few hours. But it is always nice to know I'll be able to say hello again soon.
10. Watching him struggle. I think hubs has been amazing since he came home. I know it's hard for him. I've seen him get frustrated, tired of all the household noise, annoyed with all the things he has to re-start now that he is at home. I've watched him struggle to let go of the military world he was completely immersed in 24-hours a day for the last year. Watching him and knowing I can't shield him from everything is hard. But what I can do is be loving and patient.
Part of being patient is being okay with all these things and knowing we'll find our way through them. I don't obsess over them, but I do notice them and know that I need to recognize them and work my way through them rather than allow them to sour our relationship and our family. So I smile a lot and stay cheerful and yes, even occasionally hear myself sound a little naggy about some of these things. But my goal is to stay positive and remember to just love my wonderful man every day. I do adore him.
What have you found to be difficult Reintegration challenges?