It’s not every day that a military spouse can say her husband works from home. It’s not every day she can go from saying that he’s working hard, to hardly working; or to be able to count on him to watch their son for errands and appointments, while she cooks, or to be home in time for dinner by six o’clock each night.
And it’s not every day she can count on consecutive weeks of undivided family time. It’s not every day she can count on routine, and family coming first.
The U.S. military was not meant to function at full force solely through Zoom or measures of social distancing--but for now, we’re okay with that.
Before I continue, I want to first acknowledge the fact that not all people will be able to relate to this post. I am aware there are people all over the world who are suffering for a variety of reasons, and I know there are many spouses currently agonizing due to extended deployments, isolation that feels endless, and the reality you did not get the opportunity to share a rare season with your service member. For all of you, my heart aches. You have continually been in my prayers since this all began.
For the last few months, I’ve heard people say it so many times… “I just want my old normal back.” I can somewhat relate, and have said this myself as I do miss some things, like going to Target too much, 2-ply toilet paper, church at church, and exposing my lower face in public--but there’s a part of me that has become fond of this new normal. My old normal often involved life without my husband, and this time has been a pleasant change of pace in our home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not been a blessing in the general scheme of things, but it has certainly been a blessing to our marriage and our family for many reasons:
We have chosen to see it that way. The current situation we are all in is not ideal for anyone. We’ve had our share of let downs as most everyone else has, like a calendar full of crossed out trips and plans…the trips and plans that got us through deployment. We lost precious time with family members who had to cancel reservations to come visit us; my husband hasn’t seen extended family in over a year now. Yes--we’ve had arguments and our chewing has started to irritate one another; but we have been intentional to use this pandemic as a season to grow in new ways.
The timing of it all worked in our favor. Restrictions set in place due to the virus began almost immediately after my husband returned home from a nine month deployment. We have been given the opportunity to make up for lost time, and for that--we will always be thankful. My husband missed so much in the first year of our son’s life, but he has finally been here to experience parenthood with me these past two months. The other morning, he was able to witness our son’s first steps.
We have welcomed predictability and routine into our home. This is the blessing I’m trying not to get too used to. Counting on him to be there for dinner, and for him to just be a room away when I need an extra hand, counting on him to bathe our son while I clean up the kitchen, and to come in for prayers as we put our son to bed together, and counting on the family routines we’ve established. I finally feel like I have a normal life now that my husband is home and present. We are finally able to be a family and to make new memories together. I feel like I am living the life that has been on pause for so long.
It has caused us to get creative. We’ve had to think outside the box, looking for creative outlets and family entertainment that doesn’t involve going to restaurants, events, or socializing with friends. This blessing is one that will remain with us for a long time. This time has taught us to make the best of things within the walls of our home and out in nature. We’ve learned how to have fun with minimal resources, like long walks and having picnics at the park and by the creek. I’ve learned how to grill, and now do so several nights out of the week. We’ve established new happy places where we find ourselves often, like our backyard and patio and hidden banks along Nolan Creek in Belton, Texas. And--my favorite-- our ‘at-home date nights.’ Every Saturday, we alternate taking charge of planning something unique to do together, things like yard games with burgers and Arnold Palmers, projecting movies outside on our back patio with a popcorn bar, a candlelight wine & cheese picnic and tie dying on the lawn, “nerd night” (when I let my husband teach me how to play his favorite video games), and our most recent date--a back patio campfire with s’mores and porters, listening to the new John Anderson album. Sometimes we find ourselves chatting away late into the night, something Netflix doesn’t always inspire.
This season has taught us to connect in new ways.
In some ways, I felt prepared for the inconveniences of the pandemic. As a military spouse, I am already too familiar with the reality of cancelled plans, travel restrictions, the inability to plan ahead for anything, and spending holidays away from extended family. I was also already used to a slow and quiet life at home with my son. But in other ways, I was not prepared at all; for instance, I still have yet to get my hands on sanitizer or Lysol wipes.
As we all wait patiently for the old normal to return, I will always remain grateful for this time we’ve had. But in the waiting--I am so thankful to be staring at a calendar counting down the days to normalcy with my husband beside me for once, rather than thousands of miles away.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:18