It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago our family welcomed our Soldier home from Iraq. The past fourteen days have been the quickest days to have gone by in last tens months for our family. It’s funny, now that my husband is home; time flies so fast, whereas only a month ago two weeks would have felt like forever.
We have all enjoyed having my husband back home with us and are all settling back into a routine of sorts. There are times throughout the day when I look at him and realize that he is really here. He really is back in my arms again. It’s a wonderful feeling and one that I don’t intend to let go of any time soon! But some of the best moments have been watching our two kids enjoy having their dad back. They were so strong throughout the deployment and they really inspired me to keep going through the tough times. They missed their dad incredibly, but understood his absence and handled it with such grace and maturity. Having him home again, ready to read stories, play cars and have tea parties with has had them on cloud nine for the past two weeks!
When we first were given a possible date for my husband’s return, we kept the information quiet, knowing that it could change at a moment’s notice. When the date was finally confirmed, we made the decision not to tell the kids or bring them to the homecoming ceremony. Our situation with homecoming was a little different than usual. Being a National Guard unit, the Soldiers would arrive at our local airport, be bussed to the state Guard headquarters for a homecoming ceremony and then would leave again for demobilization. I always had envisioned watching my kids excitedly run to greet their dad at the homecoming ceremony, but when we were told that the ceremony and family time would be only an hour, we decided it was best not to bring the kids, or let them know that their dad had even come back into the States. They were handling his absence so well already, we didn’t want to have them see their dad, only to have to say goodbye again after an hour. It would just be too confusing and emotional for them. It was emotional enough for me, I can’t imagine being five years old and being told that daddy still couldn’t come home! So I had to continue to keep his arrival a secret for just a bit longer (which was very tough seeing as video of us at the homecoming ceremony made it on TV!).
When the kids finally were reunited with their dad, they were overjoyed and you could just see the pride on their faces. They both stared at him for a few moments, not really believing he was standing in front of them, until finally it hit them…Daddy was home! And all was right in their world. They no longer had to go to sleep without a goodnight hug and kiss from daddy. They had so much to share with him that they had done over the last ten months, I was afraid they would overwhelm him but he was just as excited to hear it all as they were to share!
Everyday since has been just as incredible as the first day having him home again. We are all so much more appreciative of our family and what we have. We have hunkered down at home, not really wanting to venture out and away from each other too much. It’s been so wonderful being able to spend so much time with each other and figuring out how we all fit back together. I know there will be frustrations still to come, as we all determine our family roles again, but for now these moments together as a family, and as daddy and child, are priceless. Our family has been strengthened through this deployment and our priorities have been made clear. It was a long, and at times difficult road to this happy reunion, but we made it, we are better because of it, and we did it together…as a family.