Let me start by saying that for the past week or so I haven't known what to write. I try to compose a post, and it just doesn't come out right so I delete it. So here I go trying again.
My husband has been home from his last deployment for FOUR months now. Can you believe it? I can't. We've had a lot going on in those four months--some things I've shared on the blog and others that I haven't. It has been a stressful reintegration. I could go into all the aspects that were hard, but I'm just going to tell you about one. The one that has been the most difficult for our family.
Pat missed most of Ryan's first year when he was gone on his second deployment. In between that deployment and the most recent one Pat had a very stressful and demanding job. He frequently came home after Ryan (and then Sean too) was in bed. We were lucky to have the weekends together but often spent it catching up on housework and errands. Pat deployed again missing most of Sean's first milestones, and leaving behind a 2.5 year old Ryan.
Now that Pat is back home and trying to get into the swing of being a Dad, he's finding that suddenly he has a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old yet he feels like a new parent. He really missed so much in these few years. I've come to realize that the first year or two with a child is like an introduction to parenting. It prepares you for what is to come and helps you understand your child's individual personality. You learn so much in that time period. Pat does not have that introduction and learning period to rely on.
Pat doesn't know what to expect or how to react/interact with the kids. Sean is still young enough that Pat's been able to figure some things out pretty well, but with Ryan it's been a challenge. This has created a lot of stress for me because I often feel like I am refereeing between 3 children when really it is two kids and their Dad. The strain in the relationship of the children with their father is causing strain between husband and wife too.
But I'm very thankful that after four long and hard months, I'm writing this post in hindsight. We've finally made the progress that was needed to make things finally feel normal. Pat and I did lots of talking (and arguing sometimes too) about this. It took time and patience. It has been a difficult situation for me as a mother to watch. It has made me re-evaluate just how much stress and stain I am willing to put my children through and made me contemplate changes that Pat and I could make to help them. I question at what point I will say enough is enough. I've also come to wonder if the deployments are harder on the children the older they get or if there are just phases/ages in which they are very hard.
I am thankful for finally making it through the storm of reintegration, but I will not sugar coat how hard it has been. There are so many different aspects to reintegration and the process is so personal, but I want everyone to know that they are not alone in the struggles. Whatever the challenge is for you, I am willing to bet someone else has felt the same way too.