The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


September 14, 2010

Name: Air Force Wife
Posting date: 9/14/10
Spouse deployed: Overseas
Milblog: SpouseBuzz

Air Force Guy's current deployment is rapidly coming to a close -- although it seems like the days are moving more slowly than my kids when I call bedtime, the time altogether seems to be hurtling like a freight train towards homecoming day.

What this means to me, of course, is that the last two weeks have been filled with stress and upset about all the things that I didn't get done, the things I should have started, the fact that my house isn't clean enough, and my rear end isn't small enough.  In fact, I have christened the mad sprint I am going through right now (which centers around nine boxing/kickboxing workouts a week and the most boring -- albeit healthy -- eating plan ever devised by a professional dietitian) "Operation Make My A** Smaller".

This is far from our first deployment or homecoming.  I should know better by now, but it seems I never truly learn.  And it probably doesn't help that I have a competitive streak the size of a politician's ego -- I made a goal for myself and I'm going to reach it, so help me, if it's the last thing I do.  The floor will be scrubbed, the beds will be made, my hair will be perfect, and I will fit into that next size down jeans or I will kick and punch and bob and weave until I fall over dead in the ring.  Then I won't need the jeans, so it all works out in my mind.

The very first SpouseBUZZ Live was the first time I ever heard armywifetoddlermom talk about her husband's homecoming and the feelings that it brought out.  I vividly remember her telling about the stress that culminated in her, exhausted, trying to iron a duvet so things would be perfect.

Because that's what we all want.  We want the perfect picture -- the perfectly scrubbed kids that clap and jump and hug (but know when to stop and don't get overwhelmed with emotion), the perfect welcome home kiss, the sparkling house that knocks him for a loop when he walks in, and the body that makes him want to stop at a hotel on the way home.  We want the storybook memory that we take out and refer to again and again as life goes on.  We want this beautiful outward proof that everything we did, and managed, and held in emotionally was worth it.  And somehow, that proof often becomes wrapped up in appearances and behavior we really can't control (especially the kids -- I'm the meanest mom I know and just today my kids felt that it would be socially acceptable for them to start throwing punches at each other over who would win a Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee match up while we were in Red Hot and Blue.  BTW, Bruce Lee won, historical fact).

And I know by now that the perfect day I plan is going to have hitches.  There are always hitches, no matter how often I hit the gym.  Life is a hitch.  And I'm going to feel let down when that hitch happens, because I always do.  And there is nothing I can do to stop this -- it's like that Nicholas Cage movie where he knows what's going to happen right before it happens.  I know, but I can't stop it.

I've gotten advice from several of my friends, "AFW -- he's not going to care if you have one eye, a case of laryngitis, and a hump on your back when he gets home, as long as you've shaved your legs.  He'll just be so happy to be home and with you all that nothing else matters."  And intellectually I know this is true.  I've lived it multiple times now, I know how it goes.  I've even said this to people I see stressing out as homecoming time looms ever more near.

But emotionally, it never registers.  Never.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that it never will.

So, I'm going to keep it up -- the workouts, the boring food, the manic cleaning sessions.  And a few months after he gets home I'm going to wonder why on earth I was so obsessive, when it was clearly not necessary.  I'll chastise myself and vow that I will never get so obsessive and blinded by tunnel vision again.  I know this.

And then next time I'll start the same cycle over.


Please don't stop posting when hubby comes home. We, I believe I speak for many, thoroughly enjoy your musings and writing.

Reminders of my childhood, only now truly understand what my mother went through as each deployment came to an end, while discovering what it means to me, too. Thank you for the reflections and your service, and I agree with Frank S., please keep posting. And you go, girl! Enjoy the hell out of that special day.

You brought back a really old set of memories. You're right, you just go through the same thing over and over again.
Enjoy your day. He doesn't care if the curtains are starched.

I have this procrastination problem, so I put things off until I can really get them done right (or some other reason). Then when I finally do them, I wonder why I waited.

Having come home to THINGS DON'T SEEM TO HAVE CHANGED AND NO ONE REALLY NOTICED I WAS GONE several times in my life, I figure if you are gearing up to rejoin with your missing family member, it will go better than either of you dreamed. Remember he wants your smiles to go all the way to your heart and your eyes to really see him and all his faults.

So awesomely written!..I read it over the phone to my Army Wife daughter (first deployment R & R)as she manically cleans! She's so glad to know she's not the only one! Thank you!

Great article ! Its heart touching, the life of air force army who were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hats off ! Wish you had a great time with your family in your hometown.

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