Month of the Military Child- Children and Reintegration

Homecoming means coming home to what is in your heart.  
~Author Unknown

April is Month of the Military Child. Since Huzzy and I don’t have children, I put out a call for guest bloggers to help out. I originally wanted to do a guest blogger every Monday, but I had so many fantastic responses that you’ll see a guest blogger every Monday and Thursday!

My next guest blogger is Nadine from The Albrecht Squad. The Albrecht Squad is a Proud Army Family always looking forward to whatever adventure the Army decides to throw at them next! Whether it’s deployment, training or just Army life in general, there is nothing they can’t survive together!  Nadine is an Army Veteran herself married to an active duty Soldier who has served for 23 years and counting.  Together they are raising three boys who are 16, 14 and 10.

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My husband and I met in the Army back in 1995.  We got married and started our family a year later in 1996.  Our three boys who are now 16, 14, and 10 have only known this Military Lifestyle.  Our kids have spent more time apart from their dad than they have spent together.  I figure at some point, the time together will match up to the time apart (how is that for a positive attitude!). 

2010 was the first year that we lived consecutively for the entire year as a complete family.  It was a very difficult year.  My husband returned from Iraq in June of 2009 and we PCS’d  to our current duty station four months later.  For the previous decade during Drill Sergeant duty and deployments, our Soldier was gone a lot.  My boys and I grew very accustomed to finding our routine without dad.  He was gone so much that we often found ourselves feeling off balance when he was home.  The boys had learned how to deal with the constant separation and fell into their routines easily.  They were very used to having just me in every aspect of their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, we worked very hard to keep their dad involved in everything in their lives but the physical absence made it hard to connect in some aspects.

Since Kevin was never home for very long periods of time before we moved here, the boys wouldn’t completely adjust to having him home and it rarely broke their stride.  Then we got here.  We were and are very grateful for the assignment my husband has here that affords us more time to do things as a family but it was very hard to adjust to having another full-time authority figure in our lives.  The boys were not used to having to answer to two people.  Kevin and I have discussed since the very beginning of our marriage how we were going to raise our kids but we had not really had an opportunity to put a lot of it into place as a team.  We supported one another but the reality was, I was the main caretaker and the boys weren’t used to this other person telling them what to do.

They rarely asked my husband for anything.  Permission to do things at school or to even go to things at school, the assumption was made that he wouldn’t have time.  They didn’t know how to adjust to him giving them chores that weren’t the “normal” things I had them do and sometimes they resented it.  Some of his expectations for household chores are very different than mine and the boys didn’t know how to accept that either.  There was often conflict in our house because we didn’t know how to balance it out at first.  It was hard for the boys to accept that their father would actually be home longer than a few weeks and that we wouldn’t just fall back into our boys and mom routine.

It isn’t that they don’t respect and love their father, but for 10 years we had done things on our own and during the short periods of time that Kevin was home, we focused on the time spent together instead of establishing full ground rules as a family.  It was easy for me to say that I would just deal with things since he would be gone anyway soon enough and it would fall on my shoulders anyway.  I realize now what a disservice that was to my husband and a large part of the reason 2010 was such a difficult year of transition.

The Albrecht boys welcoming home their dad in 2009

I also realize part of the difficulty of transition for my boys was the fear to believe that our Soldier would actually be home long enough to finish a project or to establish a routine.  Another emotional aspect involved the fear of  disappointing their dad.  Even though we were parenting the same way, they didn’t see it that way.  If I got upset with them for not doing something, it didn’t bother them the way it would if their dad got upset.  They didn’t want to disappoint him because they had spent so much of their life worried that their dad would leave upset or disappointed in them and then something would happen to him and it would not be resolved.  My kids put a lot of pressure on themselves about things like that.

2010 was a year of adjustment, learning and to be honest plain confusion.  We were all trying to find our balance to be the family we wanted to be.  We were a great family that was balanced in an odd sort of way while enduring constant separation, now we had to figure out how to be a great family together.  Even though that year was difficult, I look to where we are now and smile with joy in my heart.  Even during that time of tribulation, one thing that there was no confusion about was the love that my boys had for their dad and the love he has for them.

2010 was another testament of the strength and courage our Military Children have and it is through them I learn the most.

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