RnR is rest and recuperation leave, if your soldier is sent away for a long period of time they are usually granted 14 days to come home at some point over the 6 month period. I know it is different for RAF and Navy families.
Being reflective I was a little bit broken when my husband returned a couple of weeks ago, I needed to refuel and breathe. The first two months of deployment were very hard and overwhelming because lots of unexpected change came our way, I found that really hard being out of my control and not having my husband around for support. Towards the end of that first period of deployment I know my family and friends were worried for me and could see it was taking it’s toll, the juggling act IS hard; working, being a single parent, running a home, remembering everything you need to and then on top of that I was having to get my head around a move. I was totally exhausted.
Two birthdays, a wedding anniversary, an Easter weekend, a hospital admission….. we needed to fit a lot in!
My husband was delayed so it was actually my birthday the day he arrived back in the UK, I was a bit sad and lots of friends and family rallied around to make the day really special even though he’d not made it home…that evening we were all in a restaurant and he walked in!!!!
What a lovely surprise, I was beyond happy. I needed him home.
The first week really was like a honeymoon, we were both so happy to be back together, we ate out, we had date days and caught up on everything that had happened over the last couple of months. It really was like a switch inside went and I felt a wave wash over me, I could see clearly again and a weight had lifted.
– I slept like a log, I was exhausted and so the first few days I stocked up on some amazing sleep
– I wasn’t carrying any worry so my brain had more capacity, I could remember peoples birthdays and things all of a sudden!
– I could just go to bed, I wasn’t checking and double checking the doors
– I DIDN’T HAVE TO PUT THE BINS OUT!!!!!
It really was a dreamy time of building strength up and getting that emotional fuel tank full again ready to take on the next stage of the deployment. There was no expectation on either side which was really important, no firm plans and just lots of normality. We food shopped, watched telly, saw friends, drank wine, tidied the garden just lots of normal.
The reality was though there was also functional things we needed to do over the time and the last 5 days or so was a slightly different story, our daughter had to go into hospital for a small procedure, we are selling our house and we had to get everything done for our military move. As you all know the forms etc for moving have to be done on a military computer so we needed to get it all done and signed in the window of him being home because we move exactly two weeks after he returns from deployment.
The stress levels rose.
There was bickering and additionally as the return to deployment date looms I definitely become a bit distant and withdrawn which compounds the issue. It is normal to have these niggles, doesn’t make it easier and it was a tough few days. It wouldn’t be right to not be honest and I can’t sit and write that every single day was amazing and we didn’t have a crossed word, we did but we also made some lovely memories and had lots of time to gain some strength back.
So our 14 days together came to an end on Saturday, that pile of kit and that early hours goodbye is never easy, my heart always breaks a little but the first couple of days flying solo have been OK, I am starting feeling strong. We do have quite a way to go to end of tour, about 3 and a bit months hopefully though the days are now longer, the sun should start to shine and I have a move to get organised so it’s all school applications, removals, starting to pack and sort which should keep me occupied!
For us RnR was needed and welcome and has given us an opportunity to get back to a place of feeling deployment strong, as a family we totally CAN do this. It nearly broke me but we’ve turned it around and there is no way I’m going to let it, I’m feeling positive! (ask me again in a 6 weeks!!!)