Sam was medically retired from the military last September. He’s rated as 100% disabled with PTSD alone, and a whole list of other issues that have ratings from 20-50%.
This means that he can’t work right now, nor should he be working. His job is to heal, work with his doctors, and establish a new relationship at home with all of us.
So while he keeps mostly busy (although there were a few months I thought I was going to lose my mind with the “I’m retired!” mentality) he’s also at home much more than he’s ever been before. We went from being married young and being apart for months and years on end in the Marines, to being together and both working 50-60 hour weeks, to him working 50+ hours while I stayed at home, to another round of him being gone all the time with the Army…
to a whole lotta face/non-face but still right there time.
I’ll be honest, I was someone who always said, “I would go crazy if my husband stayed at home.” And I meant it. I loved my space. My own place to be. I’m very much an introvert so even though I missed him during his long absences and work days, I came up with a routine that worked for me, and then Bella and me, very quickly each time. I would hear about dads being able to retire early and stay home, or both parents worked from home, and I’d mentally cringe and think, “Nope.”
God has a funny sense of humor that way.
So he’s home and we’ve actually really struggled to get into a routine that worked for us all. A small part of that is why we decided school might be good for Bella this year (and with the progress we’ve seen, we both feel we made the right choice there). Winter wasn’t so rough – here it’s gorgeous nearly every day so we got out a lot and did things. But then April settled in with wind, dust storms, and the heat creeping up. We spent a lot of time inside or driving around to just get out for a while. My creativity was maxed out. Our patience with each other was often maxed out. I felt like I was always the one pushing the routine we needed and in turn, it made me cranky when no one followed and made them cranky that I was harping on it.
With the start of her in school from 9-2, and Sam having appointments at least three mornings a week, it’s actually starting to have a little more normalcy around here. The last year I’ve taken courses to keep me busy and at least give a “must do” routine for me. I start up again week after next on that, which adds another layer of routine in there.
With the help of our therapists, we both found ways to make this more of a partnership and less of a battleground. I had to really think about how I would feel if the roles were reversed. If I’d had to go into Sam’s work every day and he was constantly irritated by how I did things or that I was even there – how would I feel? If my whole dream and plans changed for my life and I suddenly found myself on someone else’s “turf” which was also my home – wouldn’t that make me resentful after a while?
Yep. So we try, really try, to help each other each day with the chores, the kids, and the errands. He and I switch making dinner each night, and whoever didn’t make it then cleans up after. We meal plan together. He watches the girls while I go grocery shopping. I stay home in the mornings with Char most days while he takes Bella to school. He stays with her in the afternoon when I pick Bella up. He unloads the dishwasher every morning, makes the coffee, and takes care of the yard work and the cat litter (which in itself is the biggest help ever). He helps Bella with half her homework, or switches me nights on it if there isn’t much, and gives Char a bath at night.
These are little things that have taken both of us a while to find a pattern in. There are still other things we power struggle over, but the main ones are there for us to have as guideposts for our day.
I don’t think of a husband/dad being at home with a spouse as crazy anymore. There are many times I’m so thankful he’s home to help and have a close relationship with both girls. I don’t think I realized how much he missed with Bella until Char came along and he was home for almost all of it.
We aren’t sure what the future holds with work and him and I, but for now, this present of ours works pretty well.