Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
I get the impression that my civilian friends think military homecomings are like those featured on Lifetime movies. Where the woman primps for hours to make sure her hair is perfect, the couple locks eyes from across the room, they run and embrace, and everything is magical. What Lifetime movies fail to show is the stress in the weeks leading up to and the weeks after a reunion.
I am in the throws of the stress of the weeks following a reunion. Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to finally have my husband home, but that doesn’t make everything easy. For the last thirteen month we have lived very different lives from one and other. He had his job and home in Bahrain and I had my job and home in Washington with our three kids. We have changed as a result of our lives lived. Not necessarily in a bad way, but we are not the same as we were a year before.
In our time apart, we were hit with 2 diagnosis and one major surgery in our children. I have needed to navigate these challenges alone. I have had to set up therapies, do testing and manage appointments on top of everything else that goes into having three kids. The stress from this has hardened me a bit. I am not the same wife that my husband hugged goodbye at the airport. I am stronger, more independent and a bit (a lot) more jaded.
My husband has to find his place in our well oiled machine of a schedule. He needs to learn who each member of the family has become. Our children have had to grow and adapt with each new diagnosis, even if they weren’t the one receiving it. They have had to learn to handle challenges many of their peers have not. It has brought out their strength, courage and a lot of sassiness in the case of my eldest. While these are great qualities to have, our children are not the same people they were a year ago; parenting approaches have to be tailored and changed to adapt.
My husband will have to learn the therapy schedules and the accompanying actions that follow the different therapists. He will need to learn that on OT mornings, our son will usually spend the remainder of the day jumping or pushing boxes around the house. ABA days will usually result in a crankier little boy that needs more cuddles or will be a bit more destructive.
I am sure in weeks to come we will hit a plateau of “normal” and things won’t be so stressful. Until then, we will continue to try and mesh our worlds. I am thankful my husband is going on shore duty soon. I can handle deployments, homecomings however are a whole different ball of wax.
Miranda is a Navy wife and mother to three kids: Hailey, Josie and Teague. All three have a swallowing disorder, Teague has ASD and Josie has Chiari. Miranda is the VP of Community Outreach for the Military Special Needs Network. You can contact her at MirandaFort@MilitarySpecialNeedsNetwork.com
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