Everyone thinks getting your sailor back after months at sea is all sunshine and rainbows. To a certain extent, it certainly is. I still get butterflies waiting for him to walk off the ship and into my arms. I can’t wait to fall asleep hearing him beside me. (Yeah, even that snoring.) But then…it happens. Sometimes it happens hours after his arrival, sometimes it waits for days. I’m talking about reintegration. It’s like a curse word in my mouth. I still can’t decide which is worse, reintegration or pre-deployment.
When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you at least know what to expect. The first time you go through it you’re absolutely befuddled that you are fighting over something so small already. Did you change that much? Did he? The fact of the matter is, when you’ve been going it alone and that routine gets disrupted, you almost don’t know how to handle it. That routine is what kept you going while he was away. It was the only thing you could control. So now here you are, looking at clothes on the floor. Doesn’t he know that clothes go in the hamper and not on the floor? Doesn’t he remember where the dishes go? And oh. my. goodness. The kids MUST be in bed at 8 sharp or there will be hell to pay tomorrow – and he just now decides we should go out for ice cream?
Take a breath. Again. Okay, is it that important? I’m not saying it isn’t, but is every single one of those things he’s doing worth the fight? I mean, yes, at some point clothes in the hamper would be nice. And sooner rather than later. But if you spent a whole day going at him for every mis-step, it’s going to spell disaster. And the same goes for him, you don’t want him walking around pointing out everything you’ve done wrong. So yes, take a breath. Those clothes on the floor? They show that he’s comfortable being home. The dishes that are on the counter instead of put away? They’re there because a kid that missed him like crazy is begging him to play a video game. That late-night ice cream run? He’s trying to make a memory to make up for his absence.
It took us years to learn the art of reintegration. Our last reintegration took months. Well, we don’t have months to reintegrate this time around so I refuse to let us do that again. Don’t forget to communicate–in a way that isn’t nagging. Pick up the clothes and when you’re cuddled up together, mention that you need his help keeping the house up, or the routine in tact, or whatever it is. He probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Unless you’re my husband anyway. Those clothes on the floor are totally on purpose and have become somewhat of a joke and it doesn’t bother me anymore. Most days anyway.