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'I'd Like You to Meet Your Husband'

It’s time. Time to start sleeping on my side of the bed. Time to clear out space in the medicine cabinet. Time to put “man foods” back on the grocery list. My husband is coming home. This isn’t some little business trip coming to a close; this is the end of a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

While he isn’t coming home tomorrow—or even next week—after months of waiting, the 30-day window has arrived. Getting ready for my husband to return home is more than just clearing the physical space in our bed, the bathroom and the pantry; we will have to relearn what it is like to live as a family within the same four walls and not across thousands of miles over a computer screen a few times a week.

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We have been married for about a year-and-a-half, of which we have spent about 4 months together between trainings and this deployment. A lot has happened these past nine months: I’ve graduated from two masters programs, moved houses, traveled cross-country with our dog and cat multiple times, and most importantly, gave birth our baby. Our relationship has gotten stronger, our trust and respect for the other person deeper and our conversations more emphatic and meaningful, but we have learned to live completely separate lives, except for the few hours a week spent chatting through Skype or on the phone.

I feel like his homecoming and the months that follow are going to be a strange combination of dating, the initial clumsiness of living together, and reliving (or actually experiencing) the first "honeymoon" year of marriage. Routines are going to change, Friday and Saturday nights will have guaranteed plans and instead of waiting for the Skype call to come. Being able to just pick up the phone to call my honey is going to become one of those simple joys in life.

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I’ve been trying to remember what living together is like. Of course I remember big things like eating dinners on the couch, Saturday mornings with our dog Winston at the park, and weekends spent lazily watching Netflix and ordering takeout. It is the little things I have trouble remembering that I miss the most—like our daily routine, hearing his voice at the end of the day when he’s coming home, and twisting his arm to go to the grocery store or hardware store, or to run some other errand with me. But still, our daily routine hasn’t existed for more than a few weeks at a time, it hasn’t reached the point of boring, dull and dependable. (Does it for everyone else?)

Much of our pre-baby routine was based on nothing more than decisions made on a whim, but with the addition of the little bird to the mix, days revolve around her needs and wants. In this pseudo single-parent lifestyle I’ve led, errands fit into hour-long chunks and every baby-free moment has a purpose—walking the dog, cooking meals and even work all have a regimented schedule as they are forced into the time not spent caring for and playing with the baby. The "doing-it-all-and-having-it-all" debate hits close to home for me.

We are welcoming him home to a completely different lifestyle, and yet I will also be forced to relearn the parent role that I have taken on. Sharing in the duties is not just going to be an adjustment for him. Figuring out how to give up some of my control and share responsibility for this little life is going to require a little bit of patience and a lot of laughs while we navigate this new path together.

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Coming home may just be like putting the final piece of the puzzle in, making it all fit together in a whole, beautiful image, or it could look like the result of Hurricane Sandy having her way and throwing them in every direction. There is no way to tell what it will be like, but I will say that I can’t wait for the day that our normal routine as a threesome becomes dull and boring.

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