Part One of Two
In the past few weeks, I’ve received multiple emails from Army wives asking how to handle other people wanting to be at the homecoming from deployment or when their soldier comes home for R&R. I promised to address it in a more “open” manner than just emailing a response back to them so here I am. Now, before I begin, I realize my opinion may not be a popular one, particularly among the parents of married soldiers. But its just that – my opinion – so take it or leave it!
Also, my husband’s unit does things differently than most. For one, they don’t get R&R. So I’ve never had a happy reunion or tearful goodbye at the airport, although I’ve witnessed many. Two, we don’t have ceremonies when they leave or return. When he leaves, I drop him off at the company area and when he returns, I just get a call where he says “I’m home, come pick me up!”. I used to wish that we would have at least a homecoming ceremony, until I went to one for a friend. Then I was glad we don’t have them. That’s torture to have to stare at your soldier and not be allowed to run up to him!
I suppose I’ve stalled enough! So on to the real issue. In MY opinion, only the immediate family should be there for the soldier’s return. If he’s single, then that’s his parents, siblings and fiancee or girlfriend if he has one. However, if he’s married, then his immediate family is his wife and children. I can just hear all the parents now getting ready to ream me a new one.
I realize it is hard on everyone when a soldier is deployed. I don’t have kids so obviously I’ve never had a son who deployed so I can’t speak to those emotions. But I do know that unless he moved out of his parent’s house just before the deployment then the big void laid with his immediate family – his wife and kids. They are the ones who have dealt day to day without his presence. It is their household that was effected when he left. His wife is the one who slept in an empty bed and handled many of his responsibilities at home. His kids are the ones who no longer had their dad to tuck them in at night. And that household will also be the one that has to deal with his readjustment after he gets home.
I believe the homecoming should be for them. They should have, at the very least, a few days to reunite on their own terms without worrying about others being there. They need time to adjust and time to reconnect with each other. Not to worry about entertaining guests. My in-laws have been very respectful about this and have never come to one of his homecomings. And I am eternally grateful for that. We need that time for us.
Sadly, I’ve known many who have had to go to extremes to see that this happens such as keeping the date of the return a secret or adding two weeks to it. To all the parents who may be reading this (and I’m sure are steaming mad now), please, at the very least, find out what the wishes of your soldier are and respect whatever it is. Dealing with a redeployment and the huge range of emotions is difficult enough without adding unneeded drama to the situation.
So there you have my opinion on the matter. And you’re more than welcome to leave comments if you wish. I’m a big girl – I can handle it!
(See part two on homecoming ceremonies)