Over the course of the year Rob was deployed I fell into MY routine with the dog. I'd get up every morning.. get ready for the day.. take the dog out, go to work. I'd come home on my lunch break, take the dog out, eat, go back to work. After work I'd come home and take the dog out.. or I'd go run errands, eat dinner with family/friends then let the dog out. I'd watch TV or work on homework and then take the dog out and go to bed. The biggest part of my routine was taking the dog out. It was familiar for me.. and you guessed it, the dog.
With that we were fortunate enough to have Rob in Kuwait and not somewhere else. This REALLY helped in the fact that we were almost always in constant communication. Whether we were e-mailing back and forth, texting (Rob had it set up to message from his computer to my phone) or on Skype, I talked to him at least once a day. (I recognize that we were very fortunate to have the ability to communicate with each other on our side and I will be forever thankful for that.) What this boiled down to was the fact that it felt like Rob was stateside.. versus deployed. He pretty much always knew where I was. It very much reminded me of the year we dated long distance with me living in Kansas and him in Maryland.
The hardest part to adapt to was the time difference. Rob was 8 hours (sometimes 9 with time change) ahead of me. When he was waking up, I was going to sleep. When I was going to sleep, he was waking up. About 4 months of the year, the time was working in our favor and we were on the same schedule since Rob was on a shift schedule. But other than that.. if something big happened (hello, Murphy!) I often had to just deal with sending an e-mail and getting a response when he got to it. I was almost always reachable from his end, but it didn't go both ways. That was the hardest part.
You can imagine that there was much excitement when July rolled around bringing with it the end of the deployment.
But nervous energy was present as well.
I'd just spent the last year doing what I wanted, when I wanted and didn't really have to confer with anyone. As much as I really was not a fan of living by myself, it was fabulous being able to make ALL the decisions and not have to think of another person and what they may want. I knew as soon as Rob walked across the threshold my sweet little routine for the least year was dunzo.
For one.. Rob is not a fan of taking the dog out a "million" times a day (which in reality is just a few at certain times). So that nice routine that the dog and I had.. out the window, unless I was there. I spent the first year of Piston's life taking care of him all day everyday. I know when the dude has to potty before he even attempts to make it clear to me. My ability to pick up on the dogs needs only deepened the second year of his life. So one can imagine my frustration when Rob came home and attempted to mix that all up.
Another thing that messed up our routine was the toilet seat. The dog picked up an admittedly gross habit of drinking out of the toilet once we moved to our apartment in Kansas. I was able to break that habit while Rob was gone.. and then he came home. Now I am faced with "training" the husband to put the toilet seat down.. because hello.. the blue toilet bleach water is not so good for a living, breathing animal.
I'll admit.. I wasn't the cleanest person while Rob was gone. But my clothes almost always went in the clothes hamper when I changed. With Rob coming home.. he brought back his ability to never ever ever find the clothes hamper. (That is until I threaten not doing any of his laundry unless they magically find the hamper. This threat.. always works.) I have had to re-adjust to socks EVERYWHERE.. and clothes in a pile where he just dropped them. It's not easy folks.. and FRUSTRATING.
But perhaps the most annoying habit that made it's way back in was the facial hair. My husband is a very hairy man.. as in... he's got a mean stubble at the end of the day, and can practically grow a whole beard over the weekend. When he shaves.. you can tell. Why, you ask? He always, always, always misses one to two little bitty hairs while cleaning up. And I notice. My eyes immediately find that little hair on the sink counter.. and I flip. I'd spent a year not ever dealing with them...... and now.. not so much.
With the little surface habits I had not quite missed, was also the biggest adjustment in my thinking process... Having to think of another person. More than once since Rob got home I have not checked my phone while out without Rob, or made a plan for dinner not thinking of what Rob may want, or had an idea for what to do when Rob got off work.. only to have him come home with a different idea. It. Is. Hard. Y'all. As much as I love my husband, and couldn't wait for him to get home.. this whole readjustment sucks.
I can say it sucks for me. For Rob too.. but by far I think it sucks the worst for Piston. He is SO much more attached to Rob now. He can't stand it when he leaves the house without me (the rest of the time he is in his kennel.. so I think that helps him).. he will sit by the door and just wait for him to come home. When Rob does come home he wiggles like you've never seen a dog wiggle. It's like every time he walks out that door Piston is afraid he isn't going to come home. It is like he has post traumatic stress every time Rob leaves his sight.
One of the positives that did come with him coming home (besides him being home, of course!) was us moving to Georgia. With that we both left our old routines.. the one he had in Kuwait, and the one I had in Kansas.. and have created new routines here. Or are in the process of doing so. This had majorly helped because it wasn't so much adjusting Rob back into Piston and I's new routine. It was just us making a whole new routine together. I tip my hat to those of you that have to work on adjusting an important part of your family back into the routine that went on while he was away. I can't even imagine.
So the advice I can give from what we've experienced the last month and a few weeks:
- Patience. Use it and love it. Your service member will ask you a thousand times where something is before it sticks. They will mess up your routine. Maybe even not be on the same thought process as you.. but they are home, right?
- Adopt a new routine in some way that includes the service member so they don't feel quite so much like life went on without them and they are no longer needed.
- Let them cook dinner, mow the grass, wash the car, drive the car, choose the TV channel.. make some decisions.
- Try not to get mad when the dog (or other animal) forgets you (Maybe the hardest thing I've had to deal with..) and permanently glues him/herself to your better half.
- Celebrate. Life. The end of the deployment. Your relationship.
Cause let's face it... this is a celebration. They are home.. now you get to welcome them with open arms back into your everyday routine. It's a process, just like everything else. But totally worth it to know that your special someone is at home for a hug when you need it, a phone call away and a shared dinner instead of a solo one.