To the Military Spouse on the Last Day of Your Service Member’s Deployment,
Congrats! You made it! Today is the day, the big day. You have spent days, weeks, months, and perhaps a year or more counting down to this day.
That’s right, it’s the end of deployment.
I can guess what you are doing right now because I did it too.
Yesterday and maybe the day before that, you meticulously scrubbed your house from top to bottom. You even cleaned the baseboards and disinfected the bathroom, twice. Fresh sheets have been put on your bed, the pillows have been fluffed and the comforter is turned back.
For the past few days (let’s be honest, weeks), you have been researching homecoming meals: comfort food that is not readily available on a ship, in an MRE or at a forward operating base. Plus, it needs to be slow cooker friendly, just in case there is a delay.
Last night, or probably before that, you have combed through your closet to select the perfect homecoming outfit. Something that is comfy, alluring and conservative enough to not raise any eyebrows. Right now, as you are doing those last-minute preparations, you are more than likely second guessing that outfit.
In your head, you are imagining one of those picture perfect military homecomings. You know the ones. The ones titled “10 military homecomings that will make you cry.” You are picturing the romance, the pomp and circumstance, and the beauty of it all.
Here is what will actually happen on the day of your service member’s homecoming.
Your family readiness team has been in communication with you for the last week or so, giving you a variety of dates and times and places to be to welcome your beloved home. Today, you have been diligently checking every email and text message to make sure that nothing else has changed, but it probably will change.
The clothes you have so carefully assembled are suddenly all wrong, because instead of a late morning homecoming, yours is now scheduled for zero dark thirty. Or for early evening. Or for your toddler’s naptime.
Then the clouds open up or there is a heat wave or it is snowing. So instead of that adorable ensemble, you are wearing sweats and a hoodie, with a little bit of applesauce and some splatter from the meal that you spent hours preparing.
Finally, you arrive at the place where you are meeting your spouse before the appointed homecoming window time. And you will wait. Then, after the waiting, you will wait some more. Somewhere in there, you might get a text message from your spouse informing you of the waiting. Later on, the family readiness team will also inform you of the impending waiting.
By now, you will be freaking out, stressed because of the beautiful Crock-Pot creation overcooking slowly at home. Your outfit is now wet/sweaty/both, and if you are wearing makeup, it is faded. If you have children, they are entering prime meltdown mode.
“There is no way that this can be salvaged,” you think or maybe scream out loud.
Don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything, not the house, not the food, not the clothes. Even the waiting, the weather, the time of day or the cranky kids will not count.
None of that will matter. Because when your spouse gets off that bus or boat or breaks formation, all he or she wants is you.
You are it.
You are everything. You are the pot of gold at the end of his or her rainbow.
So, try to take every single thing that happens or happened today (and for the next few days) with a giant grain of salt. Your efforts at home and at the reunion will not go unnoticed. But your spouse is exhausted after months spent working non-stop, sleeping in a cramped bed in a tent or bunkroom with a bunch of other people that she or he sees 24/7. Your spouse wants to just sleep, eat and watch TV with a cold one on the couch.
Remember, you are everything to your spouse. Being home with you is what she or he has wanted every single day you have been apart.
You are it. Dwell in this place. Let the little things go. Release those high expectations about what your reunion and reintegration should and shouldn’t be.
Trust me, a spouse who has been there and done that and owns the T-shirt, just breathe, relax and ride the reunion wave. Enjoy being with your whole family for the first time in what feels like forever.
Now, go relax and skip cleaning the house again or changing your outfit. Everything will be just fine!
A Military Spouse Who Gets It