My heart pounds hard inside my chest as I sit in traffic. My fingers tap frantically against the steering wheel as Blue’s Clues entertains my children in the back seat.
Tears spring to my eyes as I anticipate my hard work unraveling. Because I have prepared hard and well for this day. I have spent countless hours cleaning and reorganizing every drawer and shelf in my house. I have redecorated the living room, and replaced the worn out towels and sheets with plush, high-thread count luxuries. . I have washed and serviced my husband’s car and prepared his most favorite foods.
In the last seven months I have potty trained a toddler and gotten a baby to sleep through the night; I have house trained a puppy and fixed the garbage disposal, all on my own.
But I forgot about Norfolk traffic and it threatens to destroy what I had hoped would be the best Homecoming any military family could ever experience.
Finally, the traffic opens up and I rush through the gate. I grab the baby out of her car seat and enlist my son to open the stroller. My toddler grabs the hem of my coat as we race towards the crowd to find a spot in front of the row of bikers holding American flags.
I am hot and sweaty, my hair is a mess, and my baby needs a diaper change. And I come undone!!! Like a teakettle ready to boil over, the stress of the last seven months seeps out in the form of tears.
I cry as I watch the new dad’s get off first, grasping hold of their babies for the first time.
I cry as Sailors pour off the ship in search of their loved ones, and once finding them, hugging long and hard.
And it feels like forever, to spot him. He looks thinner than I remember and sharp in his crisp uniform. He grabs us all up in one big hug and I am overcome with the sameness and differences in him all at once.
I cry in to his shoulder, leaving mascara marks on his uniform that will take numerous dry cleaning trips to remove. I cry for all the moments over the last seven months that I wanted to cry on his shoulder but couldn’t.
I cry happy tears for his safe return home; I cry sad tears for key moments he missed; and I cry tears of relief, knowing I no longer have to do it all alone.
And so begins our not-so-perfect homecoming!!!