When I was pregnant with my first son, Mo, I scoffed at all the horror stories I heard about the "transition phase" of labor. It couldn't really be that bad, I thought. These women are just being dramatic because childbirth is such an emotional, life-changing experience... right?
Wrong. So very wrong. During my transition phase, I remember flinging the words, "Don't you dare touch me!" and "Just get away from me!" toward my dear husband in scathing rapid-fire succession. I remember laughing derisively at nurses who asked me to lie still, when they were just trying to ensure Mo's well-being. And, with perfect clarity, I recall the OB who gently informed me that it was too late for drugs and reminded me that just 15 minutes earlier, I had politely asked all healthcare professionals in my vicinity to stop offering me drugs (I was bound and determined to go natural).
Having the CDR home for six weeks between two long phases of deployment feels like that transition phase.
The first few days of his return were so much fun for the kids - trips to the Aquarium, hugs in abundance, and lots of laughter and family snuggles. Then our preschooler, Mo, started to fall apart. In a matter of hours, he degraded from our normally well-behaved, patient, and verbal child into a hitting, spitting, kicking, tantrum-throwing terror on two feet. Our toddler, Kel, disintegrates into screams and tears every time I walk out of the room. He's also been waking up two and three times a night.
The first few days of the CDR's return were also romantic for the two of us. We so enjoyed having face-to-face conversations at dinner, cooking meals together, sitting next to each other at church, sleeping next to each other in our bed, and snuggling on the couch watching all our favorite TV season finales. Now, we're snipping at each other, arguing over how to handle the kids' seemingly infinite misbehavior, and in consistent disagreement about the CDR's work-life balance during his brief time at home.
When I can see the big picture, I know that this is just a phase. A rough and rocky, exhausting and emotional one, to be sure, but definitely temporary. To be honest, I already feel ready to say goodbye again, mostly because I know it brings me that much closer to having him home for good. But I'm also ready for him to leave because we're at that turning point where the CDR wants to be more involved in decision-making about the boys, but I don't want to change our family's lifestyle for 20 days, only to go right back to what we were doing before he came home.
Then again, I am sitting here typing this long-delayed post because the CDR is upstairs bathing the boys and putting them to bed. And he did take the boys out this morning to Home Depot so I could attend a board meeting for work. So, maybe I'm not quite ready for him to leave. It is nice to have a partner in parenthood, even for just a few days.