This is the final installation of the four part blog series from our “30-Day Couple”. Days 23-30 focus on the Importance of Support Networks & Keeping Things in Perspective. She shares, “I realized my family changes it’s normal a lot. They make it easy to figure out what works and what doesn’t”. Yet, at times, family members are overwhelmed and are searching for support. Continue reading for an intimate view of this couple’s last eight days.
Day 23 – Her
This is our last weekend before hubby goes back to work. Soon he will be flying again and things will find a new normal. I have realized my family changes its normal a lot. They make it easy to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It shows in some areas that we have treated hubby’s two week leave like a vacation. Some things were productive but others never really got done. Still working on our to-do list.
Day 23 – Him
My day today was one of those lazy days that I didn’t really feel like doing much and didn’t really have too many obligations to fulfill. I had to come to terms with the fact that I only have one more day off before going back to work. In the respect, I got a haircut today. It’s not that I hate work, I just find certain things monotonous about it that I’m not looking forward to. I hope that our family dynamic is still as close as it’s been the last two and a half weeks once I do go back. Something that I did enjoy about today was the compliments I got when I made dinner. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it seemingly tasted as if it were when my kids found out I had cooked. I wish they showed this much elation when my wife cooks, but it was nice to hear nonetheless. That was a very nice way to close an otherwise lazy day.
Day 24 – Her
It was team work today that made it work so well. I have been trying to get over what I call the crud. Hubby let me sleep in till 8. That was very nice. I made pancakes for everyone. One thing I love about our marriage is that we laugh all the time. We play with each other. And we binge watch all the shows we couldn’t watch together while gone. We have bonded.
Day 24 – Him
Today was a productive day of getting the house in order and working together as a team. Every family member had a part to play and it felt great. Granted the kids had a huge hand in turning the house into the destruction that laid in front of us, we worked as closely and as optimistically as we could getting them to understand why we were all cleaning up. Even though it was about cleaning, I believe even more importantly it was about the closeness in which we were all working together as a family that made today seem somewhat special. When I say that everyone had a job, I’m not exaggerating. Our oldest was in charge of putting away the folded clothes and general toy pick-up. Our middle was in charge of cleaning his room and their bathroom, which mostly just consisted of wiping surfaces. Our youngest helped by picking up everyone’s shoes and putting them in the shoe closet. Wife and I handled most of the “heavy lifting” throughout the rest of the house. We worked well as a team and complimented one another’s areas without having to really say anything. I think that after being married to each other for so long, we’ve picked up on each other’s behaviors and habits so it has become second nature with things like this. My wife and I rewarded ourselves for our work with a few episodes of one of our favorite shows. The season has ended by the time I got home and we had both agreed to only watch it together, so we felt it was the perfect time to catch up. I enjoyed every part of today and look forward to more like it in the future.
Day 25 – Her
Today is Memorial Day. We spent the day talking to our kids about why this day is important. How thankful we are for all that was done for us and for Daddy coming home. Other than that I important part of our day we enjoyed our last day off before hubby goes back to work: everyone can tell by now it’s something that has been hanging over our heads. Him going back to work means my “vacation” is over. He will be flying and his schedule always changes. I won’t be able to rely on him every day to help with the day to day chores and errands. I know it’s selfish of me to want him home all the time, and not have to find that new normal again. The kids each tell me they are ok with daddy going back to work, but I know our youngest will be frustrated. We will all do our best to have this week go smoothly.
Day 25 – Him
Man! These last two weeks have been good to us! I’ve gotten to really bond with my family again and we took a much deserved vacation together. We got back into a routine, which felt great. Today was Memorial Day, so my family and I decided to take some time to remember the men and women who served and have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We also cooked out and enjoyed a nice family lunch out on our deck. I wish these last two weeks off could have lasted for so much longer, but it’s time that I go back to work tomorrow. I’d like to think of tomorrow and on as a fresh start at work. To change the things that are within my control that I didn’t like or fell into doing before I left. I will make the most of my time away from my family to make it worth not being there with them. I’ll also take a more active role with my children’s education. My wife has truly done a remarkable job making sure they stayed on top of their studies and I have slowly tried stepping back in to help. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it soon.
Day 26 – Her
We had a family emergency. Our middle child got very sick and had to take him to the ER. Spending most the day and night at the hospital. I know my husband wanted to stay the whole time there with us had to go home to watch our girls. I could tell it hurt him to do but knew it was the only thing he could do. But before leaving made sure I had everything I needed to make the night. Thankfully everything is ok and our son is on the mend now. We are definitely a team when it comes to things like this.
Day 26 – Him
Our son has been battling a fever on and off for a week to no avail. Today he had complained about abdominal pain as well, which got us worried. His pain got so bad we had to check him into the hospital. They ran a few different tests and came back with a few inconclusive results. This of course bothered us since we were looking for answers. Toward the end of the night, they decided to run a CT scan to rule out any really bad illnesses. After all of the speculation and anxiety throughout the day, we finally found out what he had, which wasn’t as serious as previously thought. Unfortunately, with how late the diagnosis came, wife and son had to spend the night at the hospital. It was a very long night, but my wife and I tried to remain optimistic. Despite every potential diagnosis, we tried to counter our negative emotions with a game plan to attack whatever the actual result may have been. We were each other’s support system during this trying time. We’re just glad the result wasn’t worse and can be treated with medicine.
Day 27 – Her
We spent the day resting and picking up medicine. It was hard for both hubby and I to show each child attention. We both wanted to just focus on one. There was jealousy but this time it was for more of my attention. I’m not sure anyone felt 100% today. Lack of sleep and worry took a toll. Answered tons of texts and calls all concerned for our kids. Well wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery. I’m thankful for the supportive community I have. It helps everything go easier.
Day 27 – Him
I was very pleased to find that my work was really understanding of our situation. Once I told them my wife and son would have to spend the night in the hospital, they gave me the day off. I took on the morning parental duties of getting the remaining two children fed, dressed, and teeth brushed before taking the oldest to school. My wife and son were discharged to come home immediately following, which meant it was time to have his newly prescribed medicine filled. I told my wife I would fill it since she had a long night and I got to sleep in my bed for the night. I hoped offering this would help make her feel better. Filling the prescription didn’t take long at all and I was home in no time. We all ended the night together around a nice movie everyone enjoyed and have been keeping our son’s temperature down this entire time. We’re all hopeful that this illness will pass very soon.
Day 28 – Her
You can tell both my husband and I were thinking of other things than each other today. Kids, dinner, appointments, and meetings were the main things. My husband and I thought to have some time together before bed to talk about anything that we might need to and to just have alone time. Too bad we were both so tired we fell asleep before we even got the kids to bed. It’s been a trying day but we managed it together. I’m so proud of our kids that are so resilient. I had to take all three to a doctor’s appointment and they were nice enough to understand it was important and behaved for me. Also for grocery shopping at 8pm because it was the only time I could. We are ready for this week to be over and everyone better. But we are so thankful that we have each other and are together.
Day 28 – Him
I went back into work today and was slightly caught off guard with what was planned for me. I was told we were going to be moving other people’s furniture out of their old offices into their new ones. This wouldn’t normally bother me; however, I heard that when these folks were originally told my section was moving and my counterparts offered to move them then, they turned it down. They said they would move themselves at a later date, but I guess that didn’t come to fruition. Instead, I’ve been tasked along with a few others to do the job that the other people said they would accomplish. I’ve been trying to find a positive in this scenario, but it’s been hard even for me. I guess instead of trying to find a positive in this particular part of my day, I can at least reflect on a positive that happened after work. I vented to my wife, much like I did here, but she has been such an inspiration to me when I’ve had a rough day. She’s been at home tending to a sick child, take another to/from school, and carry around a young one all at the same time. Talking with her helps me calm down from a stressful day as she’s able to put things into perspective that I may not have been able to do myself. My wife really does complete me.
Day 29 – Her
The week is at an end. Hubby and I finally got our alone time. It took me making two different dinners, one for the kids and one for adults. But you always make an extra effort for things that matter. Unfortunately my husband had a rough day at work, but we talked about it. I think we ended the day on a positive note. After hearing about his day, I didn’t want to really share what felt more now like the silly misadventures of a stay at home mom. But I felt good about marking things off my list. It makes me feel like I’m a productive member of the family when things get done. Not just the everyday laundry, dishes, dinner but the things that would only get noticed if they go undone. I don’t go to work, so the best I can do is make home life as easy as I can for my husband and kids. Some days go better than others. But if I have a bad day I always have tomorrow. Every day is a new day for us.
Day 29 – Him
Today marked the second day at work where we felt like unappreciated movers for others who didn’t seem to want to help themselves. It baffled me how simple we made this move and yet people still didn’t want to do the one thing we asked of them. It should have worked out to where we came in to move empty furniture, but several people still had their belongings inside and on top of desks and files/belongings in cabinets. It was frustrating to find out we couldn’t finish moving everyone today and will most likely be right back at it on Monday. I’m hoping to inject some common sense into this matter and convince my leadership that these folks need to start pulling their weight before we lift one more thing for them. I’m all for valid work when it’s necessary and has a purpose, but what I can’t stand is trying to help those that refuse to help themselves. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way either. Of course, after work I vented once more to my confidante who also happens to be the love of my life. She was so amazing and understanding. She also happened to have cooked us a very romantic dinner which we had with a nice glass of wine. I love that no matter how hard of a day I had at work, my wife is there to help me through. I am so grateful for her support. She helped me see that these are just a few days in a bigger picture of the many blessings in our lives. Having this perspective during times like this really does help show me how little days like today should hold any negative impact within our lives. I’ll just take the bad with the good and focus on the many blessings that surround me every day.
Day 30 – Her
Yesterday ended with me in tears. Hubby completely didn’t understand. I could tell because when I was crying he put one hand on me, using me as leverage to turn around and watch “How It’s Made” on TV. He has never been good at comforting. Worse if he doesn’t understand why. When your spouse is deployed or on missions, others “friends” don’t want to go out with you, ask you over or come over to have coffee. It makes them feel uncomfortable. So they don’t. And if they do, you have to go out, making things a big deal. Having to get a babysitter and organize the kid’s night first. Then proceed to treat you as if they were babysitting you. My Husband is always gone. It’s a struggle to feel included. And all the fault is put on me. I don’t open myself up to others, I don’t make time, and I don’t make people feel comfortable. The odds are stacked against me. I’m a stay at home mom, my husband is in the military and always gone, I learned to do a few things on my own, and worse of all I ask for help. I feel so left out and looked down on. And it’s all up to me to get over it. People are who they are. Tomorrow is supposed to be a new day. Close that door and move on. Just no one has the right to be shocked if they find themselves on the other side of that door.
Day 30 – Him
Today I woke up to another breakfast in bed! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such a caring family that would be willing to do that for me for no other reason than that they love me. My wife and I decided that today would be a good day to clean out the pool in hopes that it could be ready within a month. We weren’t sure if we were going to keep the pool or not since we rent, but seeing as how we still have it for the time being, we decided to open it up. It would be a nice way for our oldest to enjoy her birthday party which is coming up soon. Aside from this little bit of excitement, the rest of our day has been pretty relaxing, which was absolutely fine with me. These last 30 days have been filled with elation, euphoria, anger, concern, excitement, and everything else in between. I have been taking each day as it came and have made conscious efforts to be a better father to my children, a better friend to those I know and a better husband to the one I love. I feel as if I have grown as a person since being back home from my deployment and have taken this opportunity as a second chance to make every moment that I’m with my family count.
Our recent MFLN webinar “The Experience of Reintegration for Military Families and Implications for DoD” provides this definition of resilience:
“Resilience is the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. Resilience can be learned and sharpened with practice. Building flexible strength is a hallmark of resilience and necessary for recovering peak performance after stressful events.”
After reading this couples’ final posts please share your thoughts on their challenges and resilience. What role might Military Family Service Providers play in helping families navigate this process while creating resilience?
MFLN Family Transitions Development provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.