Monday, April 26, 2010


Anyone who’s been through a military deployment knows that it brings with it many changes and emotions. There’s the sadness and apprehension of pre-deployment, the grieving period after the military member has left, the feeling of freedom at being able to accomplish things on your own and the excitement and butterflies of homecoming. While the primary focus of homecoming and reunion is the happiness and pure joy of the occasion, the fact that there is an adjustment period to follow can’t be ignored.
First and foremost, everyone involved must remember that each person has changed. Children have grown and are experiencing new things (Thomas is 3.5 inches taller, 95% potty trained and knows his letters, numbers 1-20 and can have a conversation with you AND Abby is not just a newborn... she has 3 teeth, is crawling EVERY where and is babbling up a storm); the deployed spouse has seen new people, places and things; and the spouse that stayed behind has developed a routine that works for them. Most of the time these changes aren’t drastic changes, they’re simply things like a change in dinner time, or shopping at a different store, or using a different brand of coffee.  Experts tell us that it is important for the returning military member to keep in mind that any changes that were made were done so with the family’s best interests in mind. Some of these changes may be ones they can learn to live with; others may need some compromise.

It’s equally important for the other spouse to remember that the military member has in their mind a picture of what the family was like when they left. In our specific case, Thomas was just beginning to potty train but also was in a "terrible twos" stage.  Abby, on the other hand, was only 3 weeks old and we had barely figured out her feeding schedule when it was time for Brian to leave.  It may be difficult for them to return to a house full of changes. Easing them back into things and not dumping every last change on them at one time can help with this.

Spouses should also keep the lines of communication open while renegotiating their roles. One spouse has had to handle most, if not all, household responsibilities during the deployment. The couple should discuss what roles each person will take on now that the military member is back home.  For us, that is one of the easier things to adjust to... I can't wait to hand back yardwork, handling all bills and money issues, fixing EVERY thing when it breaks, putting together EVERY thing when there is a new toy, Christmas tree responsibility, car/truck stuff and my least favorite... clipping Zigs nails.  What is harder to transition and adjust to is having a 2nd set of hands around but him not knowing the routine yet or Abby not fulling comfortable yet with Daddy.  I know that will smooth out in time, but it is something I'm having to remind myself of quite often.  I'll admit, I have lost my cool and come unglued (a little) but Brian and I just have to continue to work through it and we both know that our "normal" will be back sooner rather than later.

Children can have a wide array of emotions as well. They’re excited, yet anxious, and maybe a little scared. They want to see their parent Daddy, but they may not know what to expect.  At the same time, remind the military member that it may take the children a while to completely warm up to their parent. It’s nothing personal; it’s just their way of getting reacquainted.  For Thomas, the overall transition in both deployments has been relatively smooth.  I certainly credit that to all the pictures of Daddy & Thomas throughout his room, including Daddy into most conversations ("what does Daddy like most about...?") and Skyping each weekend between him & the kids.  What Thomas is adjusting to most though is that Daddy & Mommy handle situations differently & play differently (which is quite normal) but because he has been used to my way (and I'm certainly not saying mine is the best)... when "different" comes around it doesn't always go over well.  I think during those situations, it is really important for Brian & me to keep our communication open about how things are handled and to remember that we are a team.  For me... that is a challenge because it has just been me for the last 8 months (and really a majority of the time with TDYs and the previous deployment).  I have to let go and let Daddy handle things too.  But what I have noticed is Brian did a lot of watching the first week - how I handle "time-out" & discipline, how I handle meal time, how our morning routine in the middle of the week goes, etc.  Brian is really making a huge effort to fit into our routine... but I have to help our two munchkins and me adjust slightly to a new routine that now includes Daddy.  Compromise & Flexibility is definately key.

Everyone should remember to keep a positive attitude during the readjustment phase. Everyone’s been through a lot during the deployment and worked hard to make things function well. We are trying to take the time to enjoy each other’s company now that we are a family of four again, & rediscover one another (and even get to know one another like Daddy & Abby are doing).

1 comment:

Nicky said...

I love you for this...some of it hit right on to help somewhat ease what I have been feeling...