You know in baseball when all the bases are loaded and the last man comes up to bat. He seems so calm and collected but you know there is a lot of pressure for him to hit a home run because those potential points are dependent on him not striking out. I may not play baseball but I can only imagine the feeling. Well- that is about to become my reality. I am about to see what it means to take on the pressure of the team and lead us to a big win!
For the first five months of Marleigh’s life I have been very fortunate to have my husband by my side. Many military moms have to bear the pain of labor with their partner across the country and go through the first exhausting months on their own. I know service members who did not meet their child until they were six months old. Can you imagine missing out on the first few months of your child’s life? Those women show true strength when it comes to facing motherhood. Although I had my husband with me the first few months, these next few years are going to test my ability as a mother more than I can imagine.
My husband is slated to attend Drill Instructor school and become a DI for the next few years. My knowledge on being a DI wife is not very extensive and comes from conversations with other moms who have experienced it. Lets just say it will not be full of roses and daisies for me. I’ve learned that your husband essentially checks out for three months and will have a week to spend with you after those initial weeks. The three months gone and one week home corresponds with the cycles that the recruits go through. Although there will be moments when he is home, parenting and tedious tasks will not be his focus. When life starts getting busy and things get put on our plate, the important parenting decisions will be left up to me. This change in life is scary and daunting, but it is the commitment I made when I married my husband. It can be done as many military mamas have done this before me (or wives whose spouses work demanding jobs), but nonetheless, when you have had constant support it can be nerve wrecking. Being a military wife demands a sense of independence and in these next few years, this will be crucial.
How My Husband And I Plan To Cope
My husband and I have talked about how we plan to parent with him being away for most of the next few years. It all comes down to communication - doesn’t it always? There will be moments when we can talk, so the BIG decisions will be made together in a quick phone call or the weeks that he is home. For disciplining and raising our child, we have discussed what we want as parents. We put together rules we want in our home, ideas that we think are most beneficial, and we created a parenting plan that is a mix of us both. We have tried to focus on what we find most important and blend it all together in a way that I can work with. Will this happen? I am going to try my best, but I am only human and I may make mistakes. My husband is putting a lot of trust in me to raise our child the way we both want and I will do my best to do just that. He also understands that life is messy and it doesn’t go according to plan and sometimes I will have to do what I think is best.
Transitioning back to Co-Parenting
While my husband is away, I often fall into a pattern. I create a routine and life just carries on day to day. This happened when my husband was deployed and I was away at school. When he comes home, we always have to work to find a routine that works for us both. We always try to remind ourselves that we now have to work with each other to make plans and take each other into consideration, as before we were only worrying about our own schedule. It’s easier now that we have transitioned from long periods away multiple times but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen without struggles. We have always made sure to have realistic expectations for each other as well. I never expect him to just jump in and hit the ground running, but he also knows that he has other responsibilities that he has to take on when he is home. We can’t be selfish and self-focused like when we are on our own. It changes even more when you have a child and that is what makes this transition a whole lot different for us. When he gets home we can kind of figure out who is going to do what and who will take on specific responsibilities. I usually give him a few days to relax and get back to reality and then go from there. This setup has for us in the past, so I assume it will work for this too. I will definitely give him his space and not have so many great expectations. I will give him the space he needs to decompress and enter back into our reality. I know Marleigh will see Dad and not fully comprehend the dynamic but kids are resislient that it will become second nature to her. Now don’t get me wrong, when Glen is away he doesn’t detach from the family. However, when we are on our own we lose certain responsibilities and we fall out of routine and it can be hard to get back in the groove immediately. Especially after the day he will have of long hours, constant yelling and physical activity, and no sleep. When he has his time to regroup, I find it more important for him to spend quality time with our daughter and filling the daddy role rather than focusing on the nitty gritty parts of marriage (like my usual honey-do list!) As much as we make our relationship a priority, I want his focus when he first walks into the door to find rest for himself and time for our daughter.
The reality of the situation is that our life is unique and different, not many can relate too. Our priority is making sure that our daughter is overwhelmingly loved and understands that just because her Daddy is busy does not mean he is not taking on the parenting role. It is my commitment to include her father in my parenting and explain to her that. Although I will be taking on the role while Daddy is away providing for our family, I will do my best that she has a sense of us both in her life. I promise there will be times when we fall short, we might argue, and we might get overwhelmed. I may increase my expectations and want him to decompress faster. I might take my stress out on him even when he has other priorities he is focusing on. He might get frustrated and be tired. He might come in and parent different and change our routine. There is a good chance at times we might not have it all together. That is life and that is learning to navigate parenthood together. I can also promise you that we will figure this out together with our daughter’s best interest as our priority. We will work together to understand parenthood in this situation and do our best. This is life and it is crazy, but we are doing it together.