Even for a family that is used to military deployments, there’s still an adjustment period after Mom or Dad comes home — and nobody knows this better than Valli Gideons, military wife, mom, and writer at My Battle Call.
In a recent emotional Facebook post, Gideons recently shared what it’s really been like for their family as her husband tries to transition back into the picture as an equal parent.
“I have been home doing all things and being all the things to everyone,” she wrote. “He’s been there. Being everything to everyone. Then, in the blink of an eye … we are back under one roof and the shift happens instantaneously. Only, it doesn’t. No one in the family is buying it. Because the little people test all the boundaries. They push back, proving a point. Once they have your attention, they make it clear the absence comes with a price.”
She describes the power struggle they face as she relearns how to give up control of the home to make room for her husband as a co-parent. The frustration often turns into squabbles over parenting, dishes, and dirty boots on the floor, resulting in late night tears and tensions. She feels for her Marine’s hurting heart as their children push back on him, but she’s also mindful of the many times she consoled them at night as they cried, missing their dad.
“All we can do is move through it,” she wrote. “Own it. Peel back the veil of shame and accept it was (and still is) damn hard. This doesn’t mean I wish he was not here; it isn’t saying I don’t want him to serve. It does not erase the fact that I am proud of him. But, this kind of service has left gaping wounds. Over time, the tiny scars solidifying into fractures and holes. Pieces of us are broken and need to be glued back together. Bit by bit.”
As hard as it is for the kids to accept their father’s absences, they also know the importance of what he does.
“The kids are super proud,” Gideons tells Babble. “As they have gotten older, they understand the gravity of what their dad does. They understand the huge amount of responsibility he has leading over 5,000 marines. But, also, they are kids. So they keep him humble!”
It’s something many don’t often think about while watching military homecoming videos on social media. While Gideons herself had posted her own video of her husband’s homecoming, her current post gives us a rare glimpse behind the welcome home signs, joyous hugs, and kisses we often see.
Gideons ended her post by talking about the moments when her private pain comes to the surface.
“And I will cry,” she wrote. “Still. Mostly when the floodgates burst open in the moments when there is time to breathe. It’ll creep back, bubble up, and gush. It’s the cumulative effects of a life full of loneliness and missed moments; being left behind and asked to be strong and hold it together. It’s all part of it.”
Despite the stress of having a family member who’s deployed, Gideon tells Babble that military spouses are “bad at asking for help,” and often give off the impression that they can handle it all. So, to really help someone in that situation, she suggests simply taking action.
“Take the kids for an evening, offer to drop off a dinner,” she says. “Check in regularly.”
After all, outside help can give military families the breathing room they need — which can lead to the patience, time, grace, and forgiveness it takes to become a whole unit again.