I look forward to Air Force Guy being home when he is deployed. Not necessarily the homecoming, that's fraught with anxiety on my part. But the being home part. I'm pretty sure we all do. I mean, I'm his wife – if I want him to stay away from home there's obviously an issue I need to work on.
However, I'm not the only woman in AFG's life. He's got a mother as well, and since AFG is an only child the responsibility for that falls entirely on us. So when he gets home we have to begin the dance that so many military families are familiar with – how to include the in-laws.
I'm torn on this one. As a mother I know that worry in the gut that accompanies your child's foray into the dangerous. I've made a lot of sacrifices to raise my children, and I consider those sacrifices a good trade for the adults I'm hoping to unleash upon the world. And in the future, should my children choose a career in the military that takes them on Exotic Vacations on Uncle Sam's Dime (copyright pending on that phrase), I'm going to want to see them to release the tension and worry when they get back.
So I get that one.
On the other hand, I'm also a wife. Quite frankly, I don't want to share my husband when he comes home. Not even with my kids (I'll admit that, even though I know it makes me a bad parent). I want some time to savor going to sleep and waking up with my husband next to me – the way normal people do every night. I want some time to take walks in the evening, time to cook his favorite dinners, and time to talk about everything under the sky that we couldn't talk about while he was gone. I want to get this all in before the real world intrudes and he has to go back to work and he no longer belongs to just me anymore.
This is something I never get. Well, beyond about three days, anyway.
Because my Mother-in-Law has dementia and needs 24 hour care, she cannot leave her home to come visit when AFG comes home. Air Force Guy must go to her. And because she is on the opposite coast, it makes no sense to have a visit of anything less than 5 days (including travel, which as we all know takes one full day no matter where you are flying. And sometimes more). So now AFG is visiting his mother and I'm at home by myself again.
And I resent it. Which I shouldn't, because she is his mother. And he needs to visit his mother. But I do.
Part of the issue is the relationship we've always had with my MIL, which has never been good. She's not exactly a peach among women. She's an angry Russian woman with an indomitable sense of being owed obeisance by all who come in contact with her. I promise you I'm not mis-interpreting this, I can provide sworn affidavits. And she bites.
But she is my husband's mother. He would not be here were it not for her. She raised him and educated him, and he owes her respect and a visit when he gets back from a deployment. I know that, and I'm the one that made all his reservations and dropped him off at the airport. I get it.
I still don't feel like sharing right now.
I don't think that this is unusual, either. I think that homecoming, by its very nature, is fraught with emotions that we can't quite control – even if we tamp them down and behave in a socially appropriate manner. I can put myself in a mother's shoes: seeing her child come home and only being on the fringes of that event has got to sting. I'm sure I will experience it myself someday.
Emotions tend to run high on this issue, and horror stories abound. From wives who cut off all contact with the husband's family to mothers who push past the wife to run out and get the first homecoming hug when a service-member comes home. We all have a delicate dance when our loved ones come home.
I think that strong feelings and even situational resentment is natural, and we probably can't do much about it during homecoming. I'm not going to resent my MIL's "taking my husband away" for half his time off any less because I know I shouldn't resent it. But I will get over it. At least I know that I tried to facilitate the right thing – his visit – even as I didn't want him to go.
Maybe that's the place to start.