By Cassidy Dover: "Time For Re-Entry Is Coming Quickly"
I'm not sure what the term is in the military for when your spouse returns from a tour of duty. I do know, from a very dear friend who is married to a man in the Navy, that there are classes and discussion groups for spouses and families to prepare for the changes that are on the horizon.
See, when your mate has been away for months on end, you get into a routine. You are so self-reliant. Your days and nights go from being filled with survival techniques, to learning ways to cope, to your life taking on a feeling of normalcy.
As well as that, you tend to change as a person. You tend to become quite independent. You miss your spouse like crazy, but you almost don't need them around. You dream of having him there at your side to take out the garbage, deal with the argument you've had with your child for the tenth time that week, or to just cuddle up to at night. However, you also learn over the time apart that having him there for all that is a luxury and not a need.
As the months turn to weeks and then to days until your mate is coming home, you start to project a lot of feelings and daydream of the perfect world that will soon exist once your spouse is on your side. You expect him to "fix" all the things that are more than frustrating to you when he is gone. Utopia is just days away!
Well in reality, if I allow myself to remember when Ray got home last year, his suitcases will sit in the front foyer, open, for weeks. He'll shower Sheridan with love and let her get away with everything, and he'll stay up too late playing video games. His adjustment to home will be more gradual than I imagine it should be.
Having had months where Ray has stayed at hotels, he'll forget that someone in our house has to do the laundry. He'll forget that the animals must be fed and that Sheridan has a schedule that must be kept. More importantly, he'll forget I've been doing it for the past 10 months and now it's his turn to do it for a while! I've earned my vacation!
With that schedule, I also have to sleep at a certain time, continue to make it to the activities I've involved myself with, and work out. My life will also go on and it can't stop to dote on him and take care of the things his clubbie or travel secretary has taken care of the past months on end.
Ray will ask me to start to cook for him. Really? Cook. If you know me, you know I really am a minimalist when it comes to cooking a meal. I'd probably follow a raw food diet if I didn't have to cut all those veggies up into small pieces. Now, all of a sudden, we're a "real" family and I need to cook full meals - more than just pasta or soup for dinner? Wow, that doesn't seem fair to me at all.
In the military they address all of these issues with those spouses left behind so that once the other spouse has returned some of the domestic disagreements can be avoided, but there is no such support for the baseball wife.
Don't get me wrong, I am really excited to have Ray come home in a week. We'll celebrate the successes of the year. We'll spend time together as a family and laugh.
In our home, the family time usually lasts 3-5 weeks. Then Ray is off to winter ball again. He'll be gone there for two or three months, come home for a week or two and then leave for spring training.
I find I try to plan activities that will make a memory for our family. We need to cram our family fun time into six to twelve days when Sheridan is not in school. Sure, we'll have some spontaneous laughter during the week. It's just we really need to capitalize on our time. When we focus on doing that, we tend to also turn our minds from some of the little (or not so little) issues that have arisen during the season that we needed to be together to deal with. Whether it's the new fence, painting the house, or something more grand in the realm of our immediate relationship, who wants to ruin that precious time we have together to disagree?
But then, as I sit back and wait for Ray to catch up with me, I'll wait for him to clean the cat's litter, or put one load of laundry away, or maybe, to unpack his suitcase and put it into storage and act like he's living here. My frustration level will boil up inside. Then one day, when he asks me if it's garbage or recycling day the next morning, I'll explode. It's really inevitable.
Let me step back. It's not inevitable, it just seems to be the way things happen in our home when the season ends and we need to figure out how our family works when we all live under the same roof. Think about it. Who disciplines Sheridan? It's been my job, but now Daddy is home and it's really his role in our home. I know what she does to get away with things, but Ray wants to step up and help me out. The balance between being capable of being fiercely independent and self-sufficient and then letting down your guard and depending on your husband, trusting him to pick you up where you would love to fall but haven't been able to allow yourself to do so, is a tricky one to make.
Yet I know the time is near where it must be done. So the countdown has begun. I look forward to our off season with joy and anticipation. I hope and I pray that with consciousness of the possible potholes that this year we can miss them all and move seamlessly into
our time together with pure and utter joy. But in all honesty, I know we'll hit a few of those potholes. Those will be the best stories to share!
Thanks for Reading.
Cassidy Dover has been a baseball wife for more than 10 years. Her husband Ray, currently in the minor leagues, has spent part of 7 seaons in The Show. To read more of her columns, just click HERE. Cassidy lives somewhere in America with her daughter Sheridan. Right now, they're probably waiting for Ray to come home.