Thursday, January 9, 2014

5 Tips for Coping with Family Life & the Navy Homecoming

By Nanette
The Sailor's Woman

I received the best Christmas present ever when my Sailor came home four months earlier than originally scheduled.  Woo hoo!  I haven't stopped grinning since I met him at the airport even because his return home hasn't been the fairy tale ending I had imagined.

Recent events have illustrated that real life is not a sappy romance movie.  Forget about all that ecstatic reunion port you see on YouTube.  Ours was marred by bronchitis (me), horribly delayed flights (him) and crippling ice storms (the entire country).  That was just at the airport on arrival night!

Long term, our reunion hasn't been without its challenges because having kids changes the post-deployment dynamic profoundly.

BC (before children) you were his sole focus and number one priority.  He returned home to YOU.  After kids, he comes home to the family.  Private time may be difficult to wrangle, especially if, like us, you immediately embark on a road trip, ensuring you have zero privacy in a cramped hotel room for three during your first giddy week together.  (What were we thinking???)

We managed to dump our boy with grandma to sneak back to the hotel for some adult time. Tip#1 Get smart and make couple time a priority.  If you don't value your relationship, no one else will. It's actually kind of fun when it feels illicit.  Afterwards, my Sailor left me at the hotel to take our boy to a movie with all the uncles.

Almost as soon as my Sailor left, our boy texted me.  "What's taking Dad so long?"

I fired back, "Stopped at Tim Hortons to get me some tea."

I was proud of thinking on my feet--until I learned my Sailor told him we'd stopped at Starbucks for a grande non-fat latte.  Tip #2 If you must resort to subterfuge for your alone time, get your stories straight!

While you're thrilled to see your Sailor again and oh so relieved he's made it back safely, pre-deployment problems won't magically disappear.  Tip#3 Be prepared to address those same annoying issues that bugged you before he left.

For us it's family commitments.  My Sailor has a month of post-deployment leave and I assumed we'd spend it together.  That was the plan until his mother developed some medical issues.  He's already back at her place in a different town, without a firm return date.  Best case scenario--he'll be home on the weekend.  Worst case--this could drag on for most of his time off.

Am I grumpy and resentful?  You bet, sister!

Tip#4 When it gets too bad, take a deep breath and own your feelings.  I have every right to be annoyed. It's very much like having a Sailor in Afghanistan except instead of being worried, I'm pissed off and also feeling guilty because I'm not more supportive.

Tip#5 Don't be disappointed if it's not perfect.  Real life never is.  Don't beat yourself up because you want to be your Sailor's only priority and don't beat him up if he cannot always make you the priority.
                                      
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About Nanette
The Sailor's Woman
Hi, I’m Nanette.  Like most women, I wear many hats.  I’m a mom, a teacher, a Canadian Naval Officer’s wife, a blogger at The Sailor’s Woman and a novelist.

I have degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Moncton. I began writing as a child and I've published many short stories and essays.

In June my husband left for Afghanistan.  Before going overseas he was out of the province for about six weeks training for his adventure.  It’s been a long haul and it’s not over. Field lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.



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