Ian’s at Ft Knox this week. He has a week of Army training to do, then he’ll be home for a bit, then two more weeks of training somewhere else. How are we doing? Fine.
We’re coming up next month on the one year anniversary of Ian’s return home from Iraq. The nicest part about reaching that milestone is that we get to start repeating things, by which I mean as we cycle through the normal parts the year our memories will include Ian again. Currently when we do something, like celebrate the 4th of July, we look back to last year and remember that Ian wasn’t with us. Last 4th of July was an exhausting mess. Mona wiped out on her scooter and scratched up her face, Quinn had a major meltdown, and I was at my wit’s end for most of the day. This year with Ian home again it was wonderful. With kids it’s particularly helpful to remind them of how we did things the last time–what our holiday traditions are, how we prepare for school starting up again, anything that repeats needs review. For a year now that review has been a reminder of their dad’s absence during his deployment. Now we get to move on to something better.
For myself there has been a vague sense of panic anytime Ian has had to leave this past year. Nothing terrible, but not comfortable. It brought back too many memories of a difficult time. I think I’m over that.
I’ve had to arrange for a sitter to watch the kids for a couple of days while I go to work, but if that falls through they can all just come with me. It’s not ideal to have them all at the violin store, but I know how to handle it and still get my work done.
And the truth is, far from feeling anxious that Ian is away, I’m kind of enjoying it. I miss him of course–life is always better with Ian here–but I can do some things better when he’s not around. I’m not in the house as much since I returned to work, and I like to get things cleaned and organized. I can’t really do that the same way when Ian is home. When I feel productive in that way and I’m bustling about whipping things into shape it can make Ian feel a bit guilty or criticized since it seems like a reflection on his own abilities to run the house. I don’t mean it that way, I just have a different preference for how I like things to be, so I wait for him to leave to accomplish certain tasks.
It’s nice to have some long stretches of time in the house again. I’m excited to be getting to certain projects, mostly things that bug me but that I’m too tired to do when I get home from work. For instance, today I finally organized the linen closet. The other thing that’s nice about doing something like that with Ian gone is I don’t have to feel like I should consult him about it. I can just do it my way and it’s faster. (If he doesn’t like what I did he can change it when he gets back, but in the meantime I like it, and I think he’ll like it too.)
I love spending so much time with all the kids again, and they seem happy to just be kicking around the house with me. It’s familiar and it’s pleasant, and this time it’s minus the old stress. It’s nice.
I feel as if I’m past the trauma of the deployment. It’s not easier running things alone, but it’s just for a week, so it’s no big deal. I didn’t realize I missed being the one who is in charge of the meals and the upkeep of the house so much. I’m even trying to buckle down and edit my first novel and send out query letters so that I might finally find an agent and do more serious writing. It’s hard to make myself do that when Ian is home because I’d rather hang out with him. If deployment teaches you anything it’s that time with the people you love should not be taken for granted, so just doing nothing in the same room with Ian has more appeal than leaving his side to do my own things sometimes. If I can’t be spending time with Ian right now, I may as well be productive. It makes all the difference with Ian away not to be worried about his safety. I’m home. We’re happy. He’ll be back soon enough and can be happy with us.
Once upon a time the idea of a week alone with the kids would have sounded complicated and stressful. But I’m good. I know how to do this and it’s not bad. I know what worse looks like. This? This isn’t just getting by. This is fine.
(Our neighbor, Julie, with Mona, Aden, Ian and Quinn, welcoming Ian home from his first deployment back in 2007.)