It’s February, and I can finally say he will be home soon.
They tell you that the first and last months will be the hardest--but what they don’t tell you is that you spend many nights over those last weeks wondering how on earth your husband is going to fit into your life now.
You wonder how you’re supposed to need him again in ways you haven’t been able to need him for 270 days; or how you’re supposed to reattach yourself to someone you’ve finally, finally trained yourself to do without (although that is something you would have never chosen if given the choice).
You know how to fight off armies of wasps now, and how to open unopenable jars of pickles and pasta sauce. You know how to secure the house at night and be the protector of your family. You know how to check your tire pressure and hang curtains now. You know how to be both mom and dad, how to cry without a shoulder, and you’ve finally mastered falling asleep effortlessly in an empty bed.
You realize the girls who have become your family during these long months are expected to step aside and make room for your real family. Just as you held on to those last moments with your soldier, you hold onto those last Saturday night pillow talks, Sunday dinners, Monday Bachelor nights, and Taco Tuesdays that at the time felt like a crutch, a gap filler--and at that time, the girls felt like substitute husbands--but now you realize they have become your new family and this has become your new life;
and you lie there wide awake, wrestling with the guilt in realizing your real family seems strange and unfamiliar now. You find that you’re counting all of the “what ifs” instead of all the sheep.
Yet, you are also counting down every single single second until he is back home again. You kill time by brainstorming how you’ll reorganize the bathroom, which side of the bed you’ll claim, when you’re going to finally clean out his closet which has now become your wardrobe overflow. You shove things aside in the pantry for the Chips Ahoy! and Chex mix. You make room for him again.
While there is angst and adjustment, there is also pure bliss amidst the anticipation of it all...imagining over and over again that moment we lay eyes on each other across Cooper field, running into his arms with our son and bringing him into our house that is finally a home again, watching him be a dad, watching my son have a dad, watching us be a family of three for the first time in what feels like forever.
I’m excited for the days with my husband to feel normal again when I hear his truck engine before the rooster, when laundry is complicated by having to separate lace panties from the velcro on his uniforms, and for a tall shadow to join us on our walks. I'm excited for our son to learn that the word "dada" means a person and not a phone. I look forward to Sunday mornings smelling coffee, and hearing the laughter of father and son horseplay while I curl my hair for church, instead of rip out my hair as my son attempts to play in the trash, the toilet, the water bowl when all I want is to look pretty just one day of the week.
Just because I have been forced to make a life without him doesn't mean it can't go right back to how it used to be; and I don't have to flush my new independence down the toilet along with the lipstick my son threw in there. I'll just put it in my pocket for later... when the time comes to say goodbye again.
And I will gladly push aside the potato chips in the pantry. They're not as good as Chips Ahoy! anyway.