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Monday, February 17, 2014

Mundane Disturbances on the Homefront as War Rages On Overseas

Taking a moment to reflect on the past and present struggles of being a military spouse of a deployed member and months later, the return of the deployed spouse. It's been in the news lately, the more serious topic of PTSD. People change when they return home from the war; as well the people at home change too. Here are some things that I never expected to happen to us, but taking a lighter approach as I analyze what's happened between us.

TOP 5 THINGS I never expected as a military wife

1) Reunion Stress.

I read about this in the brochures from the military family resource center but I didn't really grasp the gravity of the scenarios that some people go through. Fortunately it was not too bad for me, really. Considering us being apart for 10 months; daddy overseas and momma at home with a toddler and newborn (with the help of a super-nanny mind you). I never cried once that I missed him, though I know I did miss him lots. I never felt sad that Valentines Day and my birthday day we were apart, because he mailed me lots of letters and handmade cards (free blank ones created by Stampin' Up consultants).  Not even missing the wedding anniversary bothered me. It was the first week he came home and it was like... man what I do cook for dinner? I haven't cooked seriously for 10 months! Sharing the bed again with someone other than a toddler and a baby!

On the flip side, I can only think about what it must be like for him. Imagine being on high alert for months,and having huge operational responsibilities all day at work, making life and death calls.... and suddenly having to come home and your baby cries alot, your wife talks too much, or the children quarrel over pieces of Lego... how annoying would that be for the man!

2) Some men don`t take Parental Leave

Nope, not this one. Not even a single day! Whereas I have taken the full year and more for each of the four kids. Pretty sweet deal for me! But the greatest sacrifice I never expected to make was to leave my Engineering career of 12 years (well I suppose four of those on mat leave LOL) and move the family. But not counting what I lost, I count only what I have gained, more time with my children. Hence the reason I suppose he never took any parental leave... time away from the annoying kids!

3) Learning to Iron and Sew

What did I learn in high school Home Ec class? O whatever. I am very lucky I married a military man who felt that it was his own pleasant duty to manage his own uniform upkeep and ironing. Thank God, because I don't iron my own shirts and I send my own work clothes and shirts to be dry cleaned just for the purpose of the free pressing.

He decided, long before we got married that he would like to iron his own shirts and pants cuz that was what he did throughout all the years before he met me He even said, "One man one kit" but he would still often agree to iron my shirts for me if I had them on hangers along with his. Wow, sweet deal for me!  HOWEVER on that note, I have a friend who is on the opposite end with the excellent Home Ec skills. She bought a top notch sewing machine and learned to hem pants.. all of the military uniform pants and non-uniform pants for her husband.

Well I guess I'm pretty good at keeping the combats' colours sharp. Either way, I know as a woman, standing beside our man in uniform, everything we have to do, to keep that uniform looking sharp and safe; not over faded in the dryer or the sun. And no two-toning for the combat shirt and pants.

4) I break it, I fix it

I never knew that I could break down my front door with my own two shoulders! The story goes, I was supposed to stay home and watch the the baby and the toddler (only two kids at the time) while my husband went to Home Depot to pick up some mechanical parts to fix the lock mechanism for the front door lock that was catching. He had just returned home from Afghanistan on his first HLTA, and that was among the first task of things to fix around the house. For whatever reason, I decided it would be OK to sneak outside of my house and leave the two babies inside while I walked 100m to the end of the street to get the mail!

I had done this many times while he was away cuz why would I drag two kids out into the street with me just to get the mail? For all the hundred times I had been doing that, nothing bad ever happened until this time and I got locked out! My house (at the time) is an impenetrable fortress because we are the middle unit in a row of five townhomes. There is only a front entrance and a back patio entrance, no windows to climb through. O wait, there is a third entrance through the garage which can be opened by a remote control garage door opener, which was of course was in the car with my husband at Home Depot.

I locked myself out on this cold day.  I knocked frantically but there was just no way a two year old was ready to open the childproof lock on the front door. I banged my fists on the window, she banged her fists on the door. She cried and cried, and eventually gave up and ran back up to the living room and fell asleep on her play mat beside her blanket. Her little baby brother cried himself to sleep too, it wasn't that long really but it felt like I was crying for along time too. As soon as she moved away from the door, I knew I had to make that door open no matter what. I hit the door with my right shoulder as if I were king kong knocking down a ton of bricks, probably did that like 10 times; the door did not budge. I sat down the porch and cried some more. I switched sides and the door with my other shoulder about 20 times. I could feel something cracking; the latch plate on the door was coming undone and my front door was just about to swing open... when I heard the sound of the garage door opening and my husband's car approaching...

I had a lot of explaining to do, especially why I couldn't just wait for him to be back before leaving the house in the first place. He even told me it would've been easier to fix to just throw a rock in the window than to fix the whole crack in the door frame. Well now I know, this momma bear can indeed kick down a front door to reach her two sleeping babies who were already perfectly safe. doh!

5) Retirement Planning

The earliest age he can retire is age 39 but I really hope he is definitely planning for something alot later. I just don't think I could handle coming home from work and dinner is all cooked and the house is all cleaned; or how about having the kids all back from their after school activities. That would really freak me out. I would rather have us both retire at 65 I think. I've dedicated a whole rant on that subject of daddy daycare.

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