When my husband transitioned out of the Army several weeks ago, it took me a minute to realize; “Wait a minute, he’s going to be home now — All. The. Time.”
This epiphany hit hard as I struggled to wrap my mind around our soon-to-be new schedule. Or should I say, lack thereof. The thing is, the majority of the time that we’ve been together or married, he’s been away, either at work or traveling for work.
Has that been lonely? Very much so, yes. But over time, you get used to it and the constant quiet of a near-empty house becomes the norm. With the arrival of our son nearly two years ago, my little one and I adjusted to much of the same — quiet days with just the two of us, filled with books and naps and too many meals to count spent staring at each other, him in his high chair and me in my chair.
But never much Dad. Dad was the guy that came home at the end of the day, tired.
But now, Dad is here all the time. I’d be lying if I said that in the first week or two, this didn’t drive me nuts. A normal week for me is spent with a casually-regimented schedule of work obligations, gym and park time and library visits, with a weekly trip to the store penciled in when I have the time. I was fine with the seemingly directionless path that some weekends took, because I knew they would ultimately end — and yes, I’m one of those people who needs structure, or at least a vague knowledge of what each day will hold.
All of a sudden, every day felt like a weekend day. Which sounds great in theory, until you have a husband at home all day long, giving you vague answers about what his plans are for the day/week, and generally placing himself directly in the path of everything you try to do (for example, plopped down on my “creativity spot” — the cozy area where I sit to write. Grrr).
It’s been especially challenging for my husband, too. After years in the military, he functions best on a schedule, a routine. And there’s also the unknowns — the stress of applying for jobs and performing well during interviews, not to mention thinking about possible future living arrangements. So many possibilities. Too many. It becomes overwhelming, and we have both felt that weight on our shoulders.
Thankfully, as I go about my usual day-to-day routine and he finishes his graduate degree, we’ve been able to gradually find our footing, going to the gym together some mornings and communicating as much as possible to coordinate our daily schedules.
As the days have passed, it’s also impossible to ignore certain perks of our new arrangement. Since hubby’s been home, he’s been grocery shopping with us, tagged along to appointments and ventured out to the park — all things that rarely ever happened in our past life. Most importantly, our son has his father around a lot more now and is loving every minute of it. Their relationship has bloomed, and I’ve seen a huge difference in their bond.
When he was working, I never would have said that my spouse would ever be able to hack it as a stay-at-home parent. Now, I might answer differently. Being more present in our son’s life has not only enhanced their relationship, but has made him a more effective caregiver as he becomes increasingly comfortable with our little one’s everyday needs and routines.
So, for all those looking ahead who may be transitioning out of the Army (or Navy, or Marines, or Air Force), hang in there. Life is about to throw you some curveballs, but you will learn to catch them, one right after the other.