Those moments of hugs and happy tears and celebration are not the end of the story. Yes, reunions are almost always joyful, but the day-to-day and week-to-week reintegration… is often rather different, and just-as-often kept quiet.
Many things are out of our control, which makes getting a handle on the things we can control that much more important. Parenting isn't just about making sure our kids show up to school every day; parenting is about helping them learn to navigate change, guiding them through whatever life throws at them. The older they get, the more hands-off we are, though we're always available to talk things through. As a family, we approach every transition as an opportunity for growth... that doesn't mean we like it, but if we can't change it, we'll absolutely make the best of it.
Planning even with a cloud is an act of hope, an act of resurrection, an act of resistance. Sure, things might need to change, but we look ahead anyway. How can we not?
Here's the thing with quantity time... the more of it we have, the easier it is to forget to engage in quality time.
Whatever you're feeling - anxious, scared, uncertain, angry, etc - the kids probably are too. What would it be like to tell them what you're feeling and ask what they are feeling?
Because you know what takes up lots of energy but is never ever added to our to-do lists? Existential fear and anxiety. And those are taking up WAY more emotional and mental energy than it might seem. We rarely account for them, even though they're playing a huge part in most of our lives right now.
So we told the kids, "We don't know exactly when he'll be home, but it won't be soon. It might be around Halloween, but we always know plans can change." Sure, it ended up being before then, but we knew that being surprised at an early date was better than them planning on May then being disappointed. Instead of answering that question of "When will it be over?" incessantly, we focused on living our lives in our temporary-new-normal, for however long "temporary" would be.
Sometimes, when we know that we're embarking on long-term trauma - especially these particularly uncertain ones - we have to crash. Maybe it doesn't look like Oreos for you, maybe it's something else. But for me, in order to gear up for the next round, I have to let down for a little while.
March 20, 2020 I had a familiar feeling in my gut this week that I was finally able to articulate yesterday: it felt like we were gearing up for a deployment. It feels like a sense of impending dread, fear and uncertainty, preparing for long-distance relationships, feelings of confidence that we’ll get through it, holding... Continue Reading →