I am getting to the restless, making-lists, cleaning-up stage of the deployment, and so far we are all weathering the last few weeks pretty well. One cat has decided he's going crazy, one kid has strep...it's all good.
Let me be clear, though, that as amazing as homecoming is, it is not perfect. It is not all flags and yellow ribbons and pretty little girls in special dresses. It is not all perfect makeup, handmade signs and big teary smiles.
Homecoming is an event. A single day, a few moments, of just about perfect joy. What it leads to, though, is a process of adjustment and getting-to-know-you and finding that "new normal". (One memorable homecoming, even the joy was dampened by the fact that all three of his girls were very ill in the week leading up to that day. Our kitchen looked like a pharmacy.)
What makes these last weeks all the more difficult for me is that, even as plans are being made for him to come home, we are already talking about the next time he'll be gone. This is before we've even gotten used to sharing our space again! We're discussing school for this (6-8 weeks), school for that (another 6, and during my birthday month)... We talk about the possibility of getting orders, and moving shortly after he's home. We talk about all the little things that need to be done once he's home.
It is so hard to throw myself fully into the "OH MY GOSH HE'S COMING HOME" feeling of joy, when I know how short the time is when I'll have him. I'm already split in two, counting the moments until he's home while I cherish the moments until he must leave us again.
In our marriage, there has never been a time when I knew he'd be home "for good". There is no such thing. Even in the relatively calm pre-9/11 world, there were CQ duties, NTC, STX, field time, school... You get the idea, I'm sure. I have civilian-world friends who always have their husbands there for school meetings, recitals, birthdays, anniversaries-- and I wonder what that is like. I envy them the worry and exhaustion they feel when their husbands have to leave for short times, because I know that this feeling is only due to the fact that these moments are so few and far between.
Even during calm months, as any military spouse knows, duty comes at the worst possible time. We pride ourselves on "semper gumby", remaining flexible at all times and knowing that PLANS CHANGE.
So, during homecoming preparation, I am having to put myself back on course, over and over. Focus on him being home. Focus on him being HERE. Focus on the warmth in the home and the shared laughter and the shared weight of home. Focus.