We moms are a proud bunch, always wanting to show off our children, but don’t parade them around to family, and friends like a trophy when they return. This is the time to keep your pride subdued a little because for reasons we can’t comprehend, they don’t always feel like heroes and the extra attention can make them uncomfortable. In their opinion they were just doing their job and for various reasons some may even feel a sense of guilt at being home.
Adjustments with family, friends, the public, work, driving, even restaurants will be an ongoing process. They may seem jumpy, don’t sleep, eat sporadically, avoid crowds, want to be alone, give only short answers, seem distracted, angry, or unemotional. Don’t be too overwhelmed by all this at first, but you may want to keep a mental note or even a notebook of questionable actions, responses, sleep habits, etc., in case at some point you feel he may need some professional help. However, don’t push the words PTSD or counseling as that may cause resentment. Remember that jumping at the sound of a balloon popping, not being comfortable driving, or being restless at night, doesn’t necessarily mean they have PTSD it may be they just need time. If they are also laughing, doing things they enjoy, hanging out with friends they are probably okay.
Their priorities may seem messed up for a while, they may drink more alcohol than before, use obscenities, or they may not want to go to church. Again don’t badger, love, prayer and patience is the answer.
Their digestive systems may be affected, introduce heavy homemade meals and desserts slowly. They may have their days and nights reversed allowing opportunity for quiet times of sharing. Be prepared to go with the flow as you may find that their preferences in movies, food, discussion topics, even clothes have changed.
Like us, they’ve been on a life-changing journey and now need to find the best direction for them to take to reach their next stop. Therefore, regardless of who they’ve become because of their experiences, what they need is to know that they’re unconditionally accepted, respected, honored, loved and that home and family will always remain their soft place to land.
Every child returning from war is going to react to deployments differently, because their experiences were unique to them and their personality. Three years after our son’s second deployment, I still see areas of his life where he struggles because of his experiences at war, which as a mom really tugs at my heart. When I notice these things, I wonder if I should mention them, but I don’t, choosing instead to accept that those things are part of the amazing young man he is today. There isn’t a step-by-step guidebook to get us to the end of this journey other than the Bible, so that’s where we must look when we doubt what to do next. I’ve learned that for moms whose child has lived through the uncertainties, traumas, and fears of war, God is still God. He is faithful to give those same families peace and hope if we depend on him.