It’s been a long three years. In these three years we’ve had two babies, bought one house, and you’ve deployed at least 30 times (but who’s counting. I’m not; I gave up).
But here we are, with ‘shore tour’ upon us and deployments in our rear view mirror. And here you stand before me, a stranger I’ve only seen for mere weeks at a time. We’ve grown so much, and most of that change we’ve only seen (or heard of) from a distance.
Your deployments have been short yet frequent, and others have mentioned how much easier we must have had it. But I’ve learned that no matter how green the grass may look on the other side, no deployment is easy. Every time you would come home, we would rejoice. And two weeks later when you’d go back out for another four weeks, we’d try not to mourn and instead focus on the next time we would get two or three weeks to spend with you. Every time your phone would ring or text tone sound, I would catch myself in that moment, hoping they weren’t calling you out that day, again. We’ve been doing these back-to-back deployments for three years straight, and this relentless cycle has worn me thin. The constant emotional readjustment to your presence and absence has left me battered.
FaceTime has become our best friend. My heart would soar every time our tiny baby would smile and giggle the instant he saw your face on the phone. But my heart broke when you walked in the door, and he didn’t recognize you in the flesh. My heart broke every time you would want to put our toddler to bed, but he refused because it was so far removed from his routine. My heart broke every time you missed a major milestone. You tried to put on a cool and calm demeanor, but I knew it broke your heart, too.
And those days when you were supposed to come home and I had to explain to our sweet boy why Daddy couldn’t come home that night? Don’t get me started on those days. For the better part of three years, you’ve lived the life of a bachelor, constantly on the road, and I’ve been a solo-mama, navigating parenthood alone.
But our lives are about to converge.
How will we merge our separate lives into one family? Because, honestly, we’ve never really been a family before. The first time you started your deployment cycles I was very pregnant with our first, and every time you’ve been home has been like a vacation from our routine without you.
But now, upon returning from your last deployment, you are coming home to a toddler whose personality is vibrant, sweet and over-exaggerated; a 9-month-old who chases his big brother around the house; a mama who is excited to have her other half co-parenting full-time; but a wife who is apprehensive about what her marriage will look like now.
The little time we’ve spent together over the years has been all together. But what about us?
There have been so many arguments that have been skirted by time cut short. I know those issues didn’t just magically disappear like you always did. I’m afraid of what will surface; we’ve never been the best at dealing with confrontation and hard things — we’ve never had to be.
If I’m being completely honest, aside from being the mother and care-taker of your children, what do I have to offer you? I know that dreamy-eyed, exuberant kid I fell in love with all those years ago has grown-up and matured, but please tell me he’s just grown to love me more. Because all too often I look in the mirror and see something less than desirable looking back with spit-up, snot, and who knows what other bodily fluids covering me tip to toe.
I have grown so much as a woman and as a mother, but I’ve forgotten what it looks like to be a wife.
I’ve never had to be a full-time mother and a full-time wife, and now, for the first time, I’ll have to be both.
So, I ask that you have patience with me, just as I promise to have patience with you. And I also ask that you make time to prioritize me, prioritize us. Find little ways to remind me why you love me, and give me grace when I leave you with the kids while I run around the house cleaning, doing laundry, or finding ANY excuse to get out of the house alone.
And please be honest. Speak up. If something is bothering you, whether it be something small like leaving my junk all over the kitchen counter, or big, I want to know. We’ll never be able to move on from small frustrations until we discuss those things openly. We’re like newlyweds again, re-learning the big and little quirks about each other. And just like what we learned in our first year of marriage, remember that a healthy relationship hinges on open and honest communication.
But most of all, I want you to know that I am overjoyed and elated to have you home. It’s been a long three years spent mostly apart. But, despite my hesitations, I know our marriage is stronger, our family is stronger, and we will be stronger as a result.
So, after three years of separation and chaos, it is my honor to finally say…
Your adoring wife