|Easter Together! (Dubai, UAE)|
Kirstin is an American mother-of-one (with one on the way), living in Dubai. Kerstin's husband is gone for a few weeks at a time, and home for a few weeks at a time (if I recall correctly!). Kerstin chose to live in a part of Dubai that is rich in Expats -- Jumeirah Beach Residence (or JBR). She joined the JBR Sand Pit group, where she meets other expat mommies every week for coffee, play dates, beachtime fun, and informative talks about life in Dubai.
Then there's my Aunt Beth, whose husband is gone for about a month of every year with the Air National Guard; Casey, another American and mother-of-two, whose husband is gone from Monday to Friday; Shannon, mother-of-three and one-time resident of Salt Lake City, whose husband was setting up camp in Germany for what ended up being 9 long months; Petro, a Dubai-based South African and mother-of-one, whose husband is in the ship-building business and has had to travel a great deal; and so many more!!!
We've established that single-parenting and career-related separation is a reality for many families, the world-over, and that there's no single "secret recipe" for success. But imagine you finally found the perfect ratio, only for someone to come and take your whole friggin' recipe box?
Naturally while they're away, you swear that things will be so much easier when they're home. So when that time finally does come, you expect only feelings of relief. Any other emotions that sneak in are surpressed. Afterall, what kind of person actually has second-thoughts about their husband returning and the family once again being whole? Well, this kind of person.
But honestly, the transition must be equally difficult for the person coming home. To go from days filled solely with work, dinner, and quiet evenings spent studying or watching your favorite TV show to ones filled with toddler tantrums, sibling rivalry, diaper changing, and discussions about finances (translation: discovering your wife receives a minimum of one mail-order item per week) is a rude (re)awakening! I'd bet my bottom dollar that a tiny part of him is entertaining the prospect of a permanent overseas delegation.
So here are a few tips on how to get beyond the awkward stage.
1) Thank eachother for your respective roles. Try, "Thanks for being the breadwinner." or "Gee, you did a great job taking care of the kids in my absence!"
3) As the Military-Transition website says, "Do not expect too much from your spouse. Try to simply enjoy and appreciate each others company. Remember you never know what the next day will bring so enjoy today as if it was your last day."