Homecoming is such an epic event. I spend an entire deployment waiting for it, counting down the days, crossing off dates on the calendar. I plan what I’ll wear, and I get my hair and nails done. I clean the house and cars, grocery shop for all the meals I’ll make him, and give the dog a bath. The week before a homecoming is a flurry of to-do lists and carving out time to get it all done.
And then, it happens. It sneaks up on me. I find myself at the squadron compound, in my dress and heels, wishing I had put on more deodorant and not knowing exactly how I got there. The waiting is unbearable, but when those buses pull up and I see my husband step off, all feels right with the world. For about two glorious minutes.
Any seasoned spouse will tell you, homecoming is blissful, but reintegration, that’s a whole other beast.
It’s very easy for the new spouse, or the spouse who is experiencing a deployment homecoming for the first time, to be crushed. Dreams of holding hands and running across the beach together while rainbows and unicorns appear out of thin air are quickly dashed away by the sound of “Babe! Where do we keep the laundry detergent?”
Prior to this (6th) deployment, we PCS’d from California to Florida. We bought a new house and had our household goods delivered on August 11th. My husband left on September 10th. I was left to organize the house and make it a home. Which I did. My home.
For eight months I lived alone in “my” house. I had a routine. It was blissful. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my husband terribly. I had nights where I cried myself to sleep. But most nights I sprawled out on “my” bed and watched Harry Potter or whatever else I wanted on TV.
I put everything where I wanted it. I made all the food I like to eat. I got very comfortable living alone in “my” house. And then he came back. And he wanted to live in “my” house. And it is very disruptive.
It’s hard not to get irritated when he can’t figure out which light switches turn on which lights, or how to work the remote controls. He can’t find the paper towels/soap/can opener/insert other commonly used item here. It’s maddening when he yells “where do we keep the light bulbs?” or clutters up my kitchen counter with random stuff like his car keys and the mail.
And sleeping. What’s that? My nightly ritual of hot tea with honey and a good book in “my” quiet bed has become a fight for the covers and the NBA finals on TV. What is happening???
Homecoming is happening. Reintegration is happening. And you know what? It is not fun. It is frustrating and awkward. It is stepping all over each other’s toes and trying to have patience when he can’t figure out how to pre-heat the oven. I am trying. I really am.
If you have been through this, you know what I am talking about. And if you haven’t, please take note. Homecoming is a beautiful event. It’s amazing! But actually coming home is not so much. It’s a lot of give and take. I try hard to remember that I lived here alone for eight months and he was here for 30 days hanging TVs on the wall and out-processing for a deployment.
So, have patience. Learn to live together again. Give him some slack when he can’t find the laundry basket and moves your towel to a different hook. He’s trying too. I’m still working on remembering that “my” house is “our” home.
Article and pictures by Georgia Jones