Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adjustment (Babble)

Okay, so let me start off by clarifying that it is amazing having Ian home for a couple of weeks.  I love him, we love him, he loves us, home is where he belongs, lots of wonderful things here.  The following post is not me being ungrateful or whiney–it’s me trying to explain to others what the reality of our situation is.  People are often content with what they imagine things are like elsewhere, and if left unchallenged those ideas take hold in people’s minds and start to look real to society at large.  That’s why I think it’s good when parents are honest about the boring and irritating parts of raising children, because it’s difficult and should be acknowleged as such.  Otherwise when we struggle alone we think we are crazy.

I’m sure anyone who hasn’t experienced it believes having a deployed spouse home again is all wonderful.  The reality is not that simple, especially for a visit.  First of all, the whole concept of ‘visiting’ your home is odd.  I cleared my stuff out of Ian’s dresser so he could use it as before, but things just aren’t set up with him in mind anymore.  Because he’s not usually here and that’s just the truth.  And we can’t go back to carving out space for him everywhere just yet because he’s leaving again soon, and that would be ridiculous.  I want him to feel ‘at home,’ but I don’t know how settled he can really feel here.  The logistics of a visit can be awkward.

Emotionally it’s also complicated.  The kids are thrilled to have daddy back, but they have their own expectations about what that means, and too much emotion of any type can be exhausting.  After a day or two of hugs and excitement and everyone trying to tell daddy important things all at once, all the kids kind of fell apart.  They all need naps at unexpected times lately which is throwing their sleep schedules out of whack.  They are quicker to cry right now.  There are times they want to want to be with daddy, but they are more comfortable with me.  Mona was torn last night when I asked if she wanted to come with me on an errand or stay home with dad.  Her first reaction was to stay with daddy, then as I was walking away she looked alarmed and said, “No, be with you!”  They’re not used to having a choice and it’s confusing.

Ian’s been concerned that even though he now has training in climbing out of overturned armored vehicles and administering an IV in the field, his skills in the parenting department have become rusty.  There are so many little things that change in a couple of months away from small children that you can’t just jump right back in.  Children like routine and the routines have shifted since Ian was involved.  The kids are used to something other than what he provides.  Aden asked why the noodles tasted different last night when Ian made dinner, and I could see it hurt her dad’s feelings, as if he had done something wrong.  I explained to Aden that daddy makes them differently, and I pointed out to Ian that his daughter wasn’t being critical, it was an honest question. 

The girls like the idea of daddy helping them with violin practice, but they are used to my approach so we make sure I’m the one to do that in the evenings to avoid frustration all around.  Ian’s not sure what the current rules are for the kids regarding the TV or cleaning up their toys or doing homework.  It’s all stuff you don’t think to explain until there is a problem–so we bump into a hundred little problems before things get straightened out.

The final stressor that looms over everything is accepting that this is temporary.  I want to enjoy being with Ian without somehow thinking about the upcoming goodbye, but I don’t know how.  It makes me want to hold him tighter and push him away at the same time.  The kids may be going through some version of that themselves, and it’s hard to know how to help.  It would be easy to get too comfortable with parenting as a team again.  It’s lovely to not have to do everything all the time.  It’s nice to let Quinn sleep in because his dad can stay home with him while I drive the girls to school.  It’s nice to have someone else cook a meal or run a bath.  It was great during Aden’s birthday party to be able to play with the shy kid on one end of the house while my husband kept the masses entertained upstairs.  Those are luxuries I don’t want to give up before the start of the new year, but I know I have to.

So there has been a lot of adjustment these past few days, but overall, the pain is minor.  It’s like an intensified version of normal life, which when we remember it is short can hurt on any day.  We only care about loss when something matters.  We love Ian, and we love our life with Ian, so being confronted with a specific number of days to be together is as hard as our love is great.  But we will make the most of the time we have.  The way we all should every day.

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