that time... it wasn't like a TV show

I am a military spouse.  There is just no denying it.  But my life is far from a TV show.

This rings so true when it comes to homecomings.

It came to my attention over the weekend when one of my friends asked me if I ever had one of those really wonderful homecomings where I was dressed up real fancy, made a sign for my husband and waited with hundreds of other spouses for my husband to return.  My answer was a simple:  no.

I got close to it once.

When Kevin was deployed, years ago, to Guam, I found myself on a flight line at 10:30 at night, with my little toddler in tow.  But realistically, a deployment to a tropical island is just not the same.  Those in his unit returning were broken into three return groups, on three flights, five days apart.  So about thirty spouses (not three hundred) found ourselves hanging out one of the nights waiting for a commercial flight to touch down at Barksdale Air Force Base.  No signs at the ready.  Not too many tears.  Not like TV.

We just hopped into my car and drove 10 minutes to our base house.  Grabbed his suitcases out of the car and walked in our house.  No celebratory banners to welcome home my troop.

Another thing hit home with this story, too.

Unlike TV shows, where homecomings are full of joy and laughter, real life is less fun.

You see, what television doesn't like to show is the transition period that occurs AFTER the return.  This is what I go through every time Kevin returns from California.  The adjustment stage of:

  1. Where did you put the salt?
  2. Why did you hang that picture frame there?
  3. Are you sure you didn't change laundry detergents?
  4. I swear you put something new in your mashed potato recipe.  I'm not sure I like it.
  5. (and my favorite) Where's the salt, again?  I still can't find it.
Our home is decidedly turned into a mausoleum, forever untouched, for fear that he can't find something that was there when he left it 2 months ago.

That is the reality most people don't realize.  That military spouses often live in untouched houses to not stress out their husbands when they return.  Our husbands go through briefings about change, that its OK if something wasn't the same when they left.  But human nature is to reject so much change.  They are under so much stress during a deployment, that the one thing they want when they return is to have a constant - their home the same as when they left it.

I've learned that Kevin likes our house to stay the same, while I like to update it with new trends, new photos, new things.  This creates a friction every time he returns - whether that is every two months or in the case of this month, twice in a week.

What I'm learning through this 4-year period, is that I can choose to live in a museum of artifacts and have no progress on my life and still be questioned about the location of the salt, or I can choose to make changes, minor ones, and listen to the comments when he returns.  Either way, I know that its hard on him. 

That's why it isn't like a TV show.  It isn't all roses and unicorns and rainbows.  After the initial hugs and "welcome homes," life goes back to stress and change and frustration over salt.  We argue over a picture placement on the wall.  We argue over shampoo bottles being left in the shower.  And we argue because it wasn't the way he left it last time.  And sometimes, we argue because it was the way he left it last time.

No one's life is like Army Wives.  I get it.  But sometimes I wish it were.  When I could just welcome him home, with open arms, in a cute dress and a sign made just for "daddy," and he'd walk into our house, look around, and just be home.

Like on TV.

Photo Credit:  Flickr

Link Parties:  Let's Be Friends 

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