Friday, September 22, 2017

Word of the Week: Mustache

"Friday Thoughts" isn't working for me anymore...too boring. I'm going to try a new thing: Word of the Week.

This week's Word of the Week is: Mustache


***

The kids started Polish School last Friday. Typically on Friday nights Steve and I will drop the kids off at school, and head out for dinner. Last Friday Steve had to work, so I dropped the kids off at school, stayed for a bit of the parent meeting, and then headed out to shop.

There is a store down the way that has bargains...again, you know me and good bargains. I got Ben and Cici, both, 2-3 books. And I got Steve a belt. Steve's current belt is all tattered around the holes. He hasn't complained about it, but I certainly noticed it.

I have been on the hunt for a black belt with a gold buckle for some time now. Do you know how hard it is to find a freakin' black belt with a gold buckle!? Not easy...unless you are shopping at a bargain store. I was pleased to find exactly what I was looking for...100% genuine leather...all for the bargain price of $5.99.

I'm awesome.

And Steve doesn't look like a slob.

***

Steve got his schedule on Sunday. On Monday, I texted him and asked him to email me his schedule. He told me he would.

2 hours later I texted him the request again.

You see...I have shit to plan. I have a new book club invite that I have to plan for. I also have a business trip I have to plan for. There is a lot of pending activities that I have on my calendar. I need to change my current RSVP of "I want to come, but I have to wait on Steve's schedule" to a "yes" or "no."

Mama needs said schedule to get my life in order.

Steve finally emailed me his schedule on Tuesday, but only after I had to ask him again.

***

We are hosting our second annual Halloween Party. Steve has always loved Halloween and getting into costume and character. Last year our theme was "Political". I was Melania Trump. Steve went as Putin. This year's theme is Favorite Sitcom. I won't give away Steve's costume just yet, but I can say that the character has a mustache. Steve is now growing out a mustache.

Let me get one thing clear. I hate mustaches.

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I didn't always have such a strong opinion on facial hair...until I started to date a pilot. And then I got married to a pilot. This means I have been with a clean-shaven man for 19 years. I have been conditioned to a clean shave. For those that don't know, Steve can't wear facial hair unless it's a mustache to the corner of his mouth - it's an oxygen mask thing.

Steve will grow out his facial hair when not working. I don't mind the stubble over the weekend. I don't even mind the stubble over a week+ vacation. In fact, I sort of like the rugged look. But, I hate it when it gets growing out for over 2 weeks. That's when he is constantly feeling his facial hair...gliding his hand down his cheeks...over and over. Try kissing a man with a 'stache, or oral sex...have you ever rubbed sand paper over your lady bits? Not pleasant.

So, think of me over the next couple weeks as I deal with Steve growing out a 'stache. I asked him to just wear a fake one, but he won't have any part in that. My co-worker thinks a mustache is totally part of the pilot gig. I, on the other hand, totally disagree.



***

Coming soon, a blog post about my 3-day from hell. Sometimes I rock at this pilot wife thing. Most times I do okay. And other times I suck at it, which is what these past 3 days has been.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Thoughts

I am a bargain hunter. I totally get off on a good deal. The best deal to date is the awesome peacock rug in our dining room. It retailed for about $1,000, and I got it for $189 at the Frontgate outlet store. I still, obviously, talk about how awesome that deal was.

Well, this weekend I scored a near awesome deal. My Mom was in town to watch the kiddos while Steve and I had an event. On Saturday, after our event was over, she and I went shopping. My nephew needed new shoes, which took us to Bass. As typical, I always look to add things to Steve wardrobe...if the deal is good enough.

I found a pair of shoes marked at $49.99. The store was closing, so there was an additional 20% off the shoes. Steve hadn't told me he needed new shoes for his uniform, but if the deal is good enough I will buy anything. The shoes were originally $130, and I figured $39.99 was a good price for leather work shoes. When I made my way up to the cashier, they rang up at $24.99...with an additional 20% off. My jaw actually dropped when I was told the final price. I walked out of there paying about $22 for Steve's new shoes.

I'm awesome.


****


This has nothing to do with being a pilot wife, but rather a woman who is always looking for nutritious recipes for my family.  On Saturday morning, while Steve and I were gone, my Mom treated the kids to breakfast out. While in town, they stopped at the farmers market. She bought me two beautiful heads of cauliflower. I prepared one head on Sunday night for dinner.

It was the easiest of recipes, and my kiddos actually ate their entire dinner...without complaints!! I mean, it is rare to try a recipe for the first time without some comment from the kiddos about how "it looks gross" or "I'm not eating that."

I sauteed the chopped cauliflower in olive oil, salt, pepper, and an all-purpose seasoning that I got at a local shop. I added cooked organic pasta, and a good portion of Parmesan cheese. Done. That simple, and really good. It's totally going in my recipe rotation.




****

As parents we are exposed to smells that could kill a small animal. When the kiddos are babies you have to deal with blow out diapers...gagging while cleaning up the mess. Oh, and of course there is the vomit that sprays into your hair...that's a fun one. 

Well, on Monday night I discovered a new smell that ranks right up there with the best - or would it be worst? Smooched banana in a school lunch bag that had been "baking" for hours on end. Yeah, nasty! I packed Cici a banana for an after school snack, which was to be eaten before her soccer practice. Apparently the thing exploded after lunchtime, and then it sat in her lunch bag until we got home from dinner around 7:30p.

As I was cleaning the lunch bag I was thinking to myself that I didn't think a banana could get so nasty. And then my mind wondered to the other foods exploding story from our household - and bare with me because it actually does link back to the whole pilot thing.

About 2 years ago Ben got off the school bus with a large black plastic garage bag. Well, that's peculiar. As he approached me in the driveway, the smell started to hit me. Here's how to story goes: Ben had a carton of milk that he left in his backpack for weeks. Yes, weeks! He forgot about it. That morning on the way to school, he sat in his seat with his backpack on his back. The pressure of him against the back of the seat, combined with the right pressure of rotting milk inside the carton, caused the milk to explode. Rancid milk went everywhere. Ben claims a kid puked from the smell, but that story has not been confirmed.

It was horrible. The worst smell I think I every smelled in my life. And, the smell was over everything! Yuck. I ended up washing the backpack twice, and the smell remained. My last effort was to wash the backpack with bleach, and that did the trick. All was well by the end of the day.

Fast forward about six months to our annual winter Disney cruise. We made our way down to Florida with no problem. But, on the way back Ben was tagged in TSA. They pulled him aside, and I was sure to follow, Mama Bear style. His backpack was the item that was being tagged, so they investigated it. They started by removing the contents: stuffed animal, blanket, coloring book, book, a game of Spot It. Then they started swabbing the bag. There was obviously something going on, so much so that a supervisor was called over.

They identified Steve as the father, and asked him to come over. To note, Steve was dressed in regular clothing, and his badge was under his shirt. There was no way to tell that he was an airline employee, let alone a pilot. At one point my mom, who was traveling with us, was like, "why don't you tell them Steve is a pilot." We didn't go there...they have procedure to follow, and obviously there was nothing we were hiding. We were just as confused as the next person as to why Ben's bag was being tagged. 

They patted Steve down, being Ben's father, and even ran their hand around Steve's waistline. The irony in the situation was incredible...an airline pilot being patted down because his son's bag is showing some chemical in the swab test.  Again with nothing to hid, we checked out okay and they sent us on our way. The whole thing took about 10 minutes. 

As we were discussing the event on the way to our gate, we kept asking ourselves what could have triggered the positive reading. We went over this, and that. And then it dawned on me...the bleach from the exploding milk carton!

Mystery solved.

Needless to say, Ben doesn't travel with that backpack anymore.


****

I woke up Wednesday morning, after a nightmare that I was about to take a flight without my Avitan, feeling like a million bucks. Ben joined me and Niko for our morning walk, and as the morning progressed I could tell it was going to be a good day. I had a lot of wind in my sails, and knew I would accomplish a lot throughout the day.

Wanna know why I felt so good? Sleep!

Steve flew out Tuesday afternoon, with his new shoes on I might add. I was surprised he was wearing them so soon - he doesn't get excited about things like I do.
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The kids and I had a busy Tuesday evening, but thankfully they were in bed around the normal time of 8:30-8:45p, And guess who crawled into bed around that same time. You guessed right. I played around on social media a bit, then started up my latest find on Netflix, Atypical. Before I knew it, I woke up in some wee-hour of the morning with the tv still on. Netflix probably played through the entire series while I was soundly sleeping. I must had fallen asleep around 9:45p.

I didn't go to bed Monday night until past midnight, if not even closer to 1am. This happens often when Steve is home...I don't go to bed when I should. Perhaps we are watching some show - we are into Ray Donovan now (he is totally my dream guy right now) and Ozark (Jason Bateman isn't too bad to look at either). Or, perhaps we are doing "other things" that may keep a couple up late...and ladies you know how that goes...you both are all finished up and your partner falls fast asleep and you stay wide awake, which was the case Monday night, me clicking through the tv channels...

When Steve is gone, it is actually a chance for me to catch up on sleep. I crawl into bed around 9, watch whatever fits the bill that evening, or sometimes I write, and then it's lights out at a decent time.


I hope you all have a nice weekend!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Thoughts

Ben eats an egg burrito every morning for breakfast. 2 scrambled eggs and a schmear of cream cheese on a warmed flour tortilla. Last Friday morning I placed a pan on the stove, lit the gas and turned it to low. I heard Ben screaming upstairs. Like one of those "drop everything you are doing and go...now!" screams. Did the dog hurt him? Did he hurt himself? I ran upstairs. I saw him on the floor in front of his fish tank. "Ben, what's wrong?"

"John died!" he screamed out, tears pouring down his face.
"Are you sure?" We had a false alarm before.
"Yes, I touched him, and he's dead," he screamed.

I ran downstairs to turn off the stove, and ran back upstairs to comfort Ben. Poor kiddo. It was such a tough morning. Ben cried all throughout breakfast. I made sure he took a hankie and wipes for his glasses to school. I figured tears were bound to come at some point. I also sent a note in to his teacher, since he was sure to be out of sorts.

Steve was on the west coast when all this went down. But, I knew he was going to be awake. His "go" was crazy early. I texted him and despite my phone showing it delivered, Steve never responded. He told me he didn't get the text until after his first leg. I had to manage our 10-year-old in crisis alone...such is the life of a pilot wife.

We buried John once we got home from school and work. We shared memories. We said a prayers. We cried. Well, Cici didn't cry. At the end of our little service, Ben muttered through his tears, "may John rest in peace."




**

Steve was home throughout all of Labor Day weekend. It was awesome. The weekend was perfect. We had enough activities to keep us busy, but still with enough down time to be relaxing.

Friday night the kids has Polish dancing practice. Saturday we attended a party for friends...he just finished his rounds of chemo for colon cancer. It was a party to celebrate him, and we had a very nice time. Sunday the kids danced at a local Octoberfest. It was a really nice time.

The night ended around a campfire with good friends.

Monday morning was a bit rough, and Steve, the kids, and I brainstormed plans for the day. The airshow was going on. That was on the kids and my list...you see, we haven't gone in years...because we only go with Steve and he is typically working. Steve, on the other hand, wanted to go to our town's local festival....which is something the kids and I do every Labor Day weekend since it is something easy to do when Steve isn't home.

Steve ultimately won the argument of no air show because he is around planes all the time, and the last thing he wants to do on a day off is spend more time around more planes. So, we just went to the pool. We had a nice lunch, drank some cold beers, talked with some great people, and said goodbye to summer.

**

Steve was home this entire week. Every once in a blue moon this will happen, and this week came at a great time. I was able to attend a meeting on Tuesday evening without worry of the kids. In addition, Steve took Ben to his annual eye MD appointment. This was the best since I didn't have to take off work.

We had dinner as a family of four every night. We took evening walks as a family. I slept next to a warm body every night this week. The laundry is all caught up.

In addition to all the awesomeness that comes with Steve being home, it can also stink not to have my typical Joanna time. I have been going to bed late, and I hate crawling out of our warm bed in the morning when Steve is sleeping peacefully. I hate that he plays music from the phone in his pocket when putting away laundry (this gets me as much as listening to an AM radio station...I have a thing about certain sounds). And the kicker was the fact that he picked Cici up late from dance class on night. He thought she was to be picked up at 6:30, so he was sitting next door drinking a beer, passing time. Cici called me and asked "where's Daddy?" I don't see red often, but I certainly did around this situation.

**
Wednesday night Steve and Ben finished a Wright Bros model airplane



I didn't know that they flew the plane backwards. Well, backwards from what I think of. I see prop planes pull, where their plane pushed. Obviously, their design was intentional, but I just always misinterpreted what I saw. You learn something new every day...
**

What did I say about getting any and every shirt that has a nod to aviation?


Happy Friday y'all. Cheers to the freakin' weekend.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Thoughts

Steve got home last Friday night from a 2-day. I told y'all that I was going to serve beef strogonoff. Nope. I didn't have time for that. We had a birthday party that ran too long. So, thank heavens for our awesome grocery store that has awesome prepared foods. They certainly came to the rescue, and Steve had a good meal to come home to. I think it's the Polish in me that makes me like this. 


**


I'm a Golden Girls fan. I mean, I love them. I may even have an 8x10 photograph of the ladies stored away. I know every episode. I know nearly all the best lines. The show reminds me of my grandmother. I would watch the show on the console tv that was in her upstairs bedroom. I believe Sex in the City was the next generation of Golden Girls. And I'm convinced that Frankie and Grace is the Golden Girls of this generation. I love all these shows.

Anytime Sex in the City is on, I watch. E! is currently airing the second Sex in the City movie. In the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning I was watching the movie, while Steve was sleeping soundly next to me. At one point during the movie Carrie goes to her old apartment to write. She has an article due in a couple days and she needed to write without distraction. At the end of day 2, Big picks her up and they head out to dinner. But not before they kiss passionately in the car upon greeting one another. That night was so great that Big proposes that they give one another that 2-day break every week so that they can have that great feeling of reconnection every week. I feel asleep at some point, so I don't know (and don't remember from previous viewings) if they actually do keep with a 2-day break every week.

While these scene and discussions were playing out, I kept thinking to myself that I live this life every week. Steve and I do have a break from one another every week. This is the life of a pilot wife. And I do understand how absence makes the heart grow fonder. I understand how reuniting can be fiery. And I do understand how it is nice to have my time to do my things. Funny how some of Carrie's friends looked down upon the proposal. "I want to sleep every night next to my husband." Yeah, not happening when married to a pilot.


**
Cici and I went shopping on Sunday. Why is it that I get Steve any and every t-shirt that has some nod to aviation?


**
Steve is home this Labor Day weekend. I joke, but given the industry stereotypes I probably need to stop, that he is sleeping with someone in crew scheduling. Every once in a while he gets a schedule that is totally dreamy...totally 'pinch me this is too good to be true.' He must have an inside connection to get a schedule so good. He is off the entire weekend! This makes me happy. We can act like a normal family this long weekend.


**
The hurricane in Houston is just so devastating. Steve and I gave thought of moving a couple years ago, and Houston was on our radar. I can't help but think that perhaps we would have been needing to cope with the destruction.

Despite all the bad, it is important to look at the good. So many people helping their fellow neighbor - this is what human nature is....to help one another.

This Bored Panda photo display is remarkable. As I looked at all the photos and videos this past week, I kept tearing up. The awesome display of helping thy neighbor was/is in full force, and it is something amazing to watch.

FWIW, Steve's pairing didn't chang this week, but on nearly every leg he has had a new captain. And my new friend, Ben's school bus driver, asks me everyday about how operations in Houston are going. I'm happy to talk shop with him, as much as I can.

**

On Monday, after school, we went to the pool. No one was there, and it was awesome. I wrote in my book (65K words!!) while Steve was playing catch with the kids. I appreciate the times we can spend as a normal family. It's true! When I don't have Steve around all that much, it makes me appreciate the time he is home that much more. For some fun, I took some slow motion videos of Steve and the kids. For your viewing pleasure...
Funny jumps off the side of the pool. 
Sometimes I am surprised that Steve's 42-year-old ass can still bend like that.


**

If you follow my blog you know that I love the 5 Love Languages. As it turns out, Gary Chapman, the author of the books, is speaking at my Aunt's church. She told me about this months ago, and I was all about it. "Yes, let's go together."

As it turns out, it isn't just some 2 hour seminar, as I thought. It is more a six hour retreat of sorts...to be attended by both you and your spouse. I have to chuckle to myself about the whole thing...here I was wanting to go to a marriage seminar without my husband. Call it being conditioned. Since I am without him more than half the week, I am used to doing things on my own. Such is the life of a pilot wife.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Thoughts

I'm going to try something new. There are so many thoughts that always swim through my head throughout the week, but none of the thoughts are full enough, if you will, for an actual blog post. So, in an effort to get these thoughts out, engage readers, and keep my blog more active I want to publish a weekly blog post called "Friday Thoughts." It's gonna be short and sweet, but I hope you all like it. It will keep with the pilot wife theme, to stay consistent. And it really will show everyone how this isn't just a job, but actually a lifestyle.

Here goes...

Back to school. The kids were back three days last week and a full week this week. Structure is good. I have a sense that this year will be a great year. Steve was home Monday - Wednesday which was very nice to help with the transition to this full week.

Speaking of Steve being home, I got some shit done this week because of this. I got my hair done (without having to take the kids). And my stylist used a new product on my hair...love it!! It is MoroccanOil Beach Wave Mousse. I have long and thick and wavy hair, and it's all sort of awesome.  After my hair appointment, I  went out to a long overdue dinner with friends that I don't see nearly enough. I had another dinner planned with another friend on Wednesday, but we had to cancel. A friend at work commented about I looked cute that day. "Thanks, I'm meeting a friend for dinner." She then remarked on how social I was being this week, and my response was "because I have a husband to take care of the kids this week." Truth. When he's home like this, mama's gonna play!

Steve left for a trip Thursday morning. It's just a 2-day. I got mad at him Wednesday night. Not a fight necessarily, just me being displeased about something. Yes, there are some things that I can keep private so I'm not going to go into full detail. Space is good, but at the same time it always sucks to be displeased when he is on the road. Your mind wonders into that space of "what if he has an incident? The first question will be "are you fighting with your spouse?"" It sucks to be upset with your pilot when he is on the road.

We are thinking about getting a boat. This boat will be nice and spacious and not cheap. We would spend any free time up at the lake. I worry that Steve will grow tired of always being gone in the summer. Say he works Monday - Thursday. Then we are at the lake Friday - Sunday. Will he hate it? Will this expensive purchase go unused?

My co-worker is taking his family out to dinner tonight. I actually had to stop and think about the last time we went out to dinner as a family. It happened to be about 2 weeks ago, while up at the lake. I hadn't done my typical food prep stuff, so come Sunday afternoon we were hungry. We ended up at a sweet little spot, with a great outdoor patio, that was dog friendly so that Niko could join us.
having a water loving dog is the best!
Yes, he can swim, but just like our kiddos, he, too, wears a life preserver
The conversation with my co-worker continued about the fact that I have to balance  eating out when Steve is home with cooking at home. The last thing Steve wants is to eat out at yet another restaurant. He wants to be home. He wants me to cook. Sometimes it sucks, especially if I want to take a load off, but that is where take-out comes in handy. For the record, Steve will be coming home to beef stroganoff tonight, which is one of my best recipes. 

I was called for Jury Duty this week. Our county is awesome, and very efficient with time. Instead of actually going to the courthouse every day, I have to call in the day before to see if my colored paper and number need to report at the courthouse. The beginning of the week would have worked out just fine if I had to report, because Steve was home. But, on Thursday and Friday he was gone. Thankfully, I didn't have to report at all this week, but I certainly had my plan B and plan C and plan D swimming around in my head in the event that I was called in...and then if I actually had to sit on a jury. This is just one of the joys of being a pilot wife - always trying to figure plans out for you and the kids without being able to rely on your husband. For what it is worth, I once sat jury duty. Civil case. Car accident. It lasted 2 days. I loved it. Like, totally loved the entire experience. It was very interesting and eye opening. So, I actually have a very favorable thought about jury duty.

Lastly, Ben got picked up this morning on the school bus. As typical, I wave a "thank you" to the bus driver as Ben gets on. Ben had the same driver last year. Well, this morning I did my typical wave, and the driver called in to the bus. Uh oh! Ben is a good kid, so I figured it wasn't about something he did, because Ben would have been the one to tell me first (he is like that.) "Is your husband a pilot?" he asked. "He is...." And then we got to talking. Turns out he was an '85 hire for the same company. CA out of our base for about 5 years. He was forced to retire at 60. His wife was a FA for 51 years. At least now I know what theme to stick to for his Christmas present.

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Egotistical, my ass

Did you all read Fucking Flowers? If not, go read it. It is a really good story about our recent wedding anniversary. Long story short, Steve ordered flowers to be delivered to my office. I left 15 minutes before they came. I was sad and felt lonely. That night, Steve had a neighbor drop a bouquet of flowers off in our kitchen while the kids and I were running errands. I cried over the phone, thanking Steve for being so awesome.

I got a lot of comments on the post, and all but 2 were nice. I didn't see Daniel's negative comment until just last weekend. Here it is, in case you missed it:

Hello, I am sorry but I find you egoistical. What did you get your husband on that day? Only drama! It's your anniversary for both of you not just you. If you really miss him well I think the fact that he called you that day (while you were ignoring his calls) was enough to reassure you that he was thinking of you. I want to reassure people that your story is not the life of healthy and stable married couples when one of them happens to be an airline pilot. I have no doubt your husband loves you to put up with your character. You are the wife of what looks to be a mainline guy, life should be good now so instead of complaining because me me me didn't get the flowers, share with us the exciting life experiences you have traveling and how their dad spends days away from home in order to provide the best he can for his family! As much as I understand that your blog is a way for you to vent, remember that pilots talk in the cockpit as well and (with all due respect) you may not want to be "that pilot wife".

Let's just say that his comment didn't sit well with me. I have received negative comments before, and usually they roll off my back. I'm actually really good at things rolling off my back. Everyone has an opinion. I welcome conversations, the good, the bad, and the challenging. But, this comment was different. So much so that I am writing a blog post about it. There are times where I simply have to write out the voices in my head, and this is certainly time for that.

Here are the main points from his comment that rang the loudest to me:
*egotistical
*me me me
*not the life of healthy and stable married couple
*put up with my character
*life should be good now
*spend days away from home
*"that pilot wife"

After I read through his comment, my immediate thought is that he must be going through something with a woman who he finds to be selfish. I say this because of a retreat I was on about a year ago. It was for all the PSR teachers at my church. At one point we were listening to a reading, and then in small groups we were to discuss what we "heard." It was amazing how one person heard something totally different from another. The women who was very tired heard "rest, my child, rest." Where I didn't really hear that at all. See my point? We take what we want based on how it impacts you in your life at that moment. Therefore, I think Daniel is dealing with some selfish behaviors in his life. I did respond to Daniel and wished him well. And I do. But, I think he "heard" me totally wrong. And because of that, I need to set the record straight about the tone of his comment...

Frankly, I don't give a shit if Daniel actually reads my comment. But, I want to speak up as a pilot wife who is raising a family. This gig is hard....like, really hard, and I need to voice my side of things. As evident from the above comment, people may have the wrong impression about what it is like to be married to a pilot. Sure Steve's job comes with a lot of advantages. And yes, we do take advantage of those perks. But, it also stinks. I blog about all sides of this lifestyle. The Fucking Flowers post was about another missed anniversary. That stinks. It wasn't our first missed, and it certainly won't be our last. And it's okay that I was sad. Being sad, in this situation, is a good thing...it shows how much I still dig my husband. And I know that by sharing my story people can relate, and relating to one another in this wack-a-do lifestyle is necessary to stay sane and not feel so alone.

But first, I want to address his very sexist remark about how since Steve is mainline "life should be good." I am one of many pilot wives that work. I am one of many pilot wives, who is also raising a family, that work. I contribute substantially to our household income, thank you very much. I have always worked, thank you very much. I am incredibly insulted to think that my work and the sacrifices I make to be a working mother goes totally overlooked all because of Steve being a mainline pilot. Yes, life is good for us. But, it isn't due to Steve's job alone. Yet another example of a man overlooking a woman's work.

My job provides Steve comfort, as a matter of fact. Steve is constantly thinking about losing his job. Take, for example, the fact that we are shopping for a boat. With recent news out of North Korea he is afraid something may happen and he will lose his job. Perhaps we will delay buying a boat for a couple more months. I'm sure a Director of Marketing or an Accountant doesn't have the constant internal dialogue about losing his job.  Pilots think this way. And, again, my job provides Steve comfort that if something does happen we would be able to live off my salary. Just putting that point out there because my job provides more than just money in our pockets, thank you very much.

To roll off that point, let's continue to talk about my work and my perceived selfishness. I've been the one to give up on my career progression when we made the decision to have kids. I've been the one to yield to Steve "climbing the ladder" while I take care of things back home. Does that confirm that I'm egotistical? Not in my book. Not progressing my career is the furthest thing from a "me me me" mentality.

When Steve went mainline, his paycheck took a 57% cut.  He also went through weeks and weeks of training. And then he sat reserve in a different state. When he got back to our home base he had shitty schedules for years and years. All the while I was juggling newborn babies and work and being a solo-parent. I supported Steve that entire time. It was hard as fuck, but we got through it. Does all that support make me self-centered?

I can argue that there isn't one pilot wife out there, that is raising a family, that is self-centered. In order to be a pilot wife who is raising a family, you have to put your family's needs first. And the result is that you often put yourself last. It is hard work to be married to a pilot, and even harder work when you have kids with a pilot. The majority of my time and attention goes towards my children. To have that hard work and sacrifice go unrecognized is insulting....again, which is why Daniel's comment hit me so hard.

Let's talk about sacrifice. Based on Daniel's comment,  it seems that Steve is the only one to be impacted by being on the road. Yes, pilots make sacrifices to be a pilot, but so do us pilot wives. But, I think the general public ever thinks about us pilot wives. Do you want to know how often I hear, "but, he is gone all the time, think about how he feels." Ok, the flip side of that is me being a solo-parent for 4 days a week. Do you want to talk about sacrifices I have made because the father of my children is a pilot?

Guess who's social life isn't robust, because getting babysitters can get expensive? Me me me.
Guess who doesn't play volleyball anymore, because it is too hard to manage calendars with Steve's work schedule, the kids extra-curricular schedules, and sitters? Me me me.
Guess who hasn't advanced my career, because of my desire to be there for the kids as much as possible to offset Steve absence? Me me me.

Let's talk about some more of the other un-selfish things I do because I'm married to a man that is gone all the time, just to name a few:
- I've once had to clean up my Father-in-Law's vomit which sprayed all over our powder room
- I've had to go weeks upon weeks of seeing my husband for only 3-5 waking hours a week because he was visiting his mother in the hospital when she was having chemo treatment
- I've had to go to weddings without my husband
-I've attended numerous events, anything from Christmas parties with kids to company Holiday parties, stag
- I've had to be mentally and physically prepared to give birth without my husband present. Thankfully he was home for both births. 

The list could go on. I'm not giving the above examples as bitching or venting or complaining. Rather, I am sharing the above as a way to establish all that I DO give - all that I HAVE sacrificed - all the ways that having a traveling husband impacts me.

It is obvious to say that an airline pilot is going to spend days away from his family. But, what isn't obvious is the fact that when Steve is gone, it is ME, selfish me, that is holding down the home fort. It is me that is taking care of the children and the house, so that Steve has ease knowing that he can be away from home earning a living all the while things back home are good. He trusts me and my abilities to do a good job with the kids. He doesn't think about any troubles at home. He knows I got things covered. This gives him comfort.

For the record, holding down the fort is hard. As a matter of fact, I'm in the midst of getting the kids all set up for back to school. Yes, Steve was the one to take the kids to Target to get backpacks and scissors. But, I'm the one managing their forms, their schedules, their fees, their extra-curricular activities. And when it comes to their first day back at school, Daddy won't be there. I'm the one that is going to have to make sure the kids aren't bothered by this. I'm the one that tries my best at never making the kids think that Daddy being gone stinks. I'm the one teaching them that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And sometimes that isn't easy to do, especially when you find yourself crying on the steps because you feel so incredibly overwhelmed with this lifestyle.


To switch gears to some of the other comments Daniel made, it's too bad that he thinks we don't have a stable and healthy marriage. He should read Divorce, and maybe he can get a better sense of our marriage and how we are actually doing pretty okay. And shame on anyone who makes a broad marriage comment after reading just one blog post. And at that, I don't even think he read the whole post. The post showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is. I was down. Steve went out of his way to make me happy. This, in fact, showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is.

For what it is worth, Steve and I had a great anniversary this year. As established we didn't share the actual day together, but we made the most of it on other days. Not only will this flowers story be forever remembered in a very sweet way, we gave each other some really great gifts. I gifted him a trip to a shooting range, where he shot off nearly 500 rounds. And he gifted me tickets to a U2 concert.

As far as being "that pilot wife" I wish Daniel would have elaborated on what he means by that. Am I "that pilot wife" that usually has a clean house for Steve to come home to? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps a happy home? Am I "that pilot wife" that feeds our family nutritious meals? Am I "that pilot wife" that makes Steve happy? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps my man sexually satisfied? Am I "that pilot wife" that doesn't nag my husband? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps his children happy and well? Am I "that pilot wife" that works her ass off? You betcha I'm that pilot wife.

Writing this out certainly makes me feel better. For all I know Daniel is some troll who has nothing to do better with his time than to make harsh comments on blogs. But, at least this was a way for me to put some things out there that many people have not thought about before. Plus, his comment was good blog material, and I'm always looking for inspiration for blog posts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Re-entry

A while ago, I posted Divorce. I had been working on that post for a month+. To me, the topic was easy to write, but I was very careful in my delivery. Being careful with delivery can take work. I talked a lot about the post with friends, wanting feedback and validation on my draft.

While drafting, one of the best conversations was with a neighborhood friend at our monthly book club evening. She has been married far longer than me, and the perspective was awesome. Not only did she give me validation to my then draft, she also gave me a new term to use in this whole pilot wife thing: re-entry.

Her husband traveled every week: left on Tuesday and came home Thursday or Friday. He wasn't a pilot, but he was gone every week. Many things she was sharing with me resonated, especially the term re-entry. During our conversation I kept thinking "this is totally my next blog topic."

Re-entry: the adjustment a pilot (or any traveling husband) has into the home after a trip. Additionally, the adjustment a pilot wife has when your pilot comes home.

Sometimes re-entry is awesome. Seamless. Perfect. No problem. Super. Validates exactly why you married the handsome stud you did.

And then there are times when re-entry stinks. It's awful. It makes you want your pilot to go back where he came from. It makes you question why you married the man you did.

I think there are three things that contribute to a tough re-entry:
- control
- attitude
- going from solo to couple


Control:
I have said this over and over again: I am the captain of our ship when Steve is gone. Period. I control everything. I have to. Let me lay out a couple recent happenings in our home when Steve was gone. Our dog found a low bird's nest in our front garden. Niko didn't eat any birds, thank the good Lord because that would have been horrible to deal with, but we had to watch the nest for about a week to make sure Niko wouldn't get to the nearly mature birds.

The night Niko discovered the nest, Steve called to check in for the day. I gave him the run down on the found nest. "Put chicken wire around it, that will keep Niko away," Steve suggested. The problem was the birds were too big, and that suggestion wasn't totally right. I just reassured Steve that we had things under control. I took care of the situation. I had to.

Ben's glasses broke the other day. We went to get a replacement pair ordered, and the awesome optician simply pulled off the sample frames from the wall, popped in Ben's lenses, and we walked out with new frames. Awesome! When Steve called in and checked in that night, he offered some a suggestion. My response? "Ben already has the new frames." He offered great advice, but I already took care of the situation. I had to.

My point from above is that I manage everything when Steve is gone. I got this. Most times I think I got this pretty good. I control everything. I am conditioned to be the one in charge. I am the one who makes the decisions. It's all me....

...and then Steve gets home.

... and I have to give up some of that control.

... and I'm not always so good at it.

...and Steve may not be so happy that I can't give up that control.

... and I may not be happy because I have been conditioned to be in control for the last 3 or 4 days.

This back and forth of control isn't always so easy. Re-entry.

What is the best way to make re-entry easier when it comes to control? Give a little - on both sides. For you: make a point to give up the control a little. Let your pilot pack the kids lunches, even though he may not spread the peanut butter on the bread exactly the same way you do. Let him help with the laundry, even if that mean he washes a silk blouse of yours. Thankfully, the blouse came out unharmed. 

For the pilot, give her a minute to let you in. Don't just jump in and try to do everything your way. You don't have sex without foreplay, right? Same goes here...ease into it. Remember that your beautiful wife has been running the ship for the last number of days. Ease into it. Steve is great at asking "what can I do to help?" or "what else can I do?"...this means he knows I like to do things my way, but is wanting to pitch in and help. Long ago I gave up the thought that "he should know what I need help with" because, simply put, he is gone too much. He doesn't know all the in's and out's of our life, so he needs reminders.

Attitude:
Let me set three scenes in our home. All of which are true scenarios when Steve got home from recent trips. All three are very different.

Scene 1: Steve left on Tuesday morning and got home late on Thursday. There was an embedded red-eye in his pairing. On Wednesday night into Thursday morning Steve flew into ORD from the west coast. He had a day over in ORD, and flew one last leg home Thursday evening, which got him home-home (meaning in our garage) around 11pm.

Steve has been doing his current gig for nearly 11 years now, so red-eyes are very manageable at this point. He knows what to do to make everything work with his body clock. But, as a pilot wife I realize that as great as he managed a red-eye there is a strong chance that a non-typical mood for Steve will walk through our door at the end of the day.

Around 10ish, the kids went to their rooms for the night, and I took a shower. I was settled in the family room watching Masters of None, when Steve got home around 11ish. I don't even recall if we greeting one another with a kiss. We probably did. As typical, he immediately went upstairs with his bags, changed, most likely unpacked his roll-aboard, and checked on the kids. Cici was still awake, reading. Ben was sleeping. I heated up his plate of food.

Steve came downstairs, got his food, and then come into the family room to watch the show with me. I know better, by now, than to jump on him the moment he gets home. I have to get a sense of his mood, and play off that accordingly.

"How was your flight?"

"Fine."

Ok. He's tired, I thought.

We continued to watch tv.
He continued to eat. I think he also poured himself a beer at some point.
We continued to watch tv, and finally went upstairs after the episode was over. I would imagine this was sometime around midnight.

We got ready for bed, quietly brushing out teeth next to one another.
We climbed into bed.

The actions I wrote above seems rather mechanical. And it doesn't seem like much interaction, right? At least that is my intention. The reason for this is because Steve and I weren't talking much. He was quiet.

His attitude was almost non-existent, it was like he only had enough brain energy to eat and drink. Gotta love those red-eyes. He was exhausted. I let him be. I didn't push. I chose to not get an attitude about him being all quiet. That would have gotten me nowhere. I know Steve. I knew he simply needed to just chill. Ironically, that night we had good sex...you know that kind where you can sense that you really missed one another and are glad to be back together....that kind of almost makes it a perk of being a pilot wife. It just goes to show you that even though words aren't always spoken by your pilot, it may not mean anything other than mental drain. By choosing to keep a good attitude, despite his quietness, we were able to set a great tone for his set of days off.


Scene 2: So, if the above scene showcased Steve being very quiet and not very interactive when he got home, this scene is totally opposite.

I don't recall the exact details of the trip, but I don't think it fucked with him too much. It was a short 3-day trip. When he got home that Thursday evening, he did his usual routine of going upstairs, putting his bags away, and getting out of his uniform. After checking in on the sleeping kids, he can downstairs. I warmed a plate of food for him. He ate, sitting at the end of the island. I drank some peppermint tea, sitting on the side of the island. After he finished eating we stayed at the island and talked. And talked, and talked and talked. We must have talked for an hour in the dim light of the kitchen.

A lot of stuff happened that week, from Cici's eye appointment for her ocular migraines, to intense news regarding a friend, to an anxiety attack I had while having dinner with a friend.

Both our attitudes that evening were great. We were both happy, and our behaviors reflected that. We were simply enjoying one another's company. Re-entry was easy this time around.


Scene 3:
 To show a totally different attitude, this is the scene where you are just nipping at one another. Talk about a tough re-entry.

Steve got home from a 3-day trip last Friday. He got into the airport around 1 in the afternoon, which put him home around 2-something. The nanny took the kids ice skating and they got home around 3:30 or so. I ran some errands after work, and then we all had to run to the cell phone store. We finally settled in for the evening around 6pm, just in time to make dinner. We were having burgers, corn, watermelon, and salad.

Steve always gives Niko a voice. And it's funny. The kids will ask "hey Niko, what's 4+4?" And Steve will respond as Niko, in this dopey voice,"6." 


"Hey Niko, do you want to go on a walk?"
"Yes, yes! I would love a walk?" 

"Hey Niko, did you have fun at the boarding place?"
"yes, yes I did! I made lots of friends."

You get the picture. It's something Steve does and it's cute.

Well, as we were sitting around the table eating dinner, Cici tried to do the "Niko voice." I knew she was trying to do it. But, Steve thought it was her doing her baby voice, which is this thing she is into now that we are trying to correct.

"Cici, stop with the baby voice!" Steve directed.

I glared at him across the table. "She was doing her Niko voice," I said in a low tone.

And he immediately apologized, "oh, sweetheart I'm so sorry..."

He was probably tired. He was short-fused, obviously. And that all came across in his behavior. Even Cici felt stung by his direction.

This scene, obviously, is the hardest when it comes to re-entry. Most times when Steve comes home he is good. He is conditioned to this job. But, every once in awhile, he isn't in a good mood, and it shows. The best thing the kids and I do when it comes to this scene is to just let things slide, and realize tomorrow is a new day.


Going from solo to couple:
At night when the kids go to bed, I will sometimes hang in our family room...just me, the dog, and real housewives of whatever county. Just me...and the sleeping dog...in the quiet family room.

Then Steve will be home the next night, and I can't watch my housewives. And he is sitting next to me eating almonds. And that "crunch, crunch, crunch" is so deafening that I have to actually close my ear which is closest to him. Re-entry.

When Steve is gone for work and I leave the house in the morning, I come home to the same mess in the kitchen sink, which typically isn't much. When Steve is home and I leave the house in the morning, I can come home from work to my mess in the sink, plus his mess. His egg pan from breakfast, along with his coffee cup. His dirty bowl from the soup he ate at lunch. And let's throw in his water glass as well. Re-entry.

How do I manage going from solo to couple? Honestly, I bit my tongue a lot. I remember that Steve lives here too, so sometimes I just have to let things be. Now, don't get me wrong there are certainly times where I have to voice myself, like the dishes, because I simply can't take it. But most times I like to think I let things slide. I try to not get upset about annoyances, but rather let the moment pass.


If you live this life, you get it. Re-entry can be HARD. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it depends on my mood. Sometimes it depends on Steve's mood. Sometimes the wind blows out of the east, and that throws everything off. I'm kidding here, just making the point that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why re-entry can be hard when it was perfect the trip before. And take comfort in the fact that all travelling households deal with these exact same situations.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fucking Flowers

Today is our wedding anniversary. 14 years.

When Steve got his June schedule he noted he would be working today. I noted that he would be spending a lot of money on having flowers delivered today.

Knowing he would be gone today, Steve and I exchanged gifts on Sunday, the eve before he left for this trip. Exchanging gifts on a random day is very typical for a pilot household, be it birthdays or anniversaries. Steve gifted me U2 concert tickets, and a night downtown. I gifted him a trip to the shooting range, which is something (shooting a gun) he has never done before.

In my head, we will celebrate our anniversary the evening of the concert. Today, this year around, is simply a date on a calendar.


Wednesdays are challenging for me at work. On this hump-day, I receive a lot of money for my clients. And with these clients, it's my job to post the money. I delegate a bit of the work out, but I handle most of it. It's a lot of numbers, for many hours. By noon-ish my brain hurts and I need to step away from my desk. It was about then that I thought more about not having received flowers in the office yet.

With every sound of the company door opening, I thought that maybe it was the flowers. With each person passing my office I looked up. Nothing. Did Steve really not send me flowers today?

Around 2:30 Steve called me. Note that I leave my office everyday at 3pm. He was just "checking in." He was in Chicago and got settled into his hotel for the rest of the day. When he was asking how my day was going, he lingered a bit....as if to say something.

"So, did you get anything delivered?" he asked.
"No."
"Well, you should have..."
"Well, they have, like, 30 minutes to deliver them if I get them today..."

Here is the breakdown of the flower order:
- Steve ordered the flowers on SATURDAY! (he certainly planned for this)
- Steve ordered the flowers through FTD, online.
- FTD guarantees the delivery between 9am to 5pm.
- Note, again, that I leave every day at 3p.

I left work at 3. I didn't have any flowers.

Steve sent me a couple texts about how sorry he was. This was after I ignored his phone call. It wasn't his fault the flowers weren't delivered when I was there. I told him it wasn't his fault. But, with any situation where you are feeling something, you want to blame someone. I wanted to blame Steve. Why couldn't he get this right? I told him he should have just placed a phone order with a local florist. He agreed.

I started my drive home from work defeated. Deflated. I had a thing come up at work that upset me, yet again, and I was down from that. And then no flowers. I told Steve I felt alone.

Feeling alone on your anniversary sucks. Welcome to the world of a pilot wife. 

I tried to control myself on my drive home, and I did until I got a text from a co-worker. It was a picture of the bouquet of flowers that were just delivered.

Stargazer lilies. My favorite. The centerpieces at our wedding. Steve did good.


That picture triggered the tears. Steve is so thoughtful. I went through two tissues. Work pissed me off. Flowers pissed me off. Typically I'm not so emotional, but I have been ready to start my period for the last week, it seems and it fucking sucks, so I really wasn't in a great state. I let it out for a good couple minutes, and then I had to get my shit together because I was coming home to the nanny and the kids.

I got home, happy as can be. It really is amazing how your kids can switch your bad-mood off, and put a smile on your face. I needed that.

The kids and I loaded into the car around 4p because I had to go to the chiropractor. After that we headed to an outdoor mall. I wanted to get a pair of new sandals, which I did. And a really cute cross-body bag. There is always a promise for the kids to feed the ducks when we go to this outdoor mall, and today was no exception.
There is a Mama duck with three babies in this picture.
Super-duper sweet.

Steve "checked in" here and there during our outing. I figured he was calling so much since he knew I was upset.

We then headed to Aldi. I love that store! My latest find are these most awesome chocolate wafers (made in Germany) that taste like Europe. I may buy them out of those next time I'm there, and I'm not even a sugar lover. We are headed to the lake this weekend, which means lots of sugar, carbs, and beer. Have you ever tried to cook a meal on a boat? Not so easy. While at the lake, I switch my "gotta eat nutritious foods" mode off, and turn on my "gotta eat foods that are easy and fast" mode on. Aldi is a great place, in general, and an even greater place to get "boat food."

After Aldi, and nearly three hours later, we finally made our way back home. I commanded the kids help with putting the groceries away once we got home. I needed their help. I was tired. I was hungry. My heart was still heavy.

I opened the car's back hatch and added one bag to the load I was already carrying, being my handbag and a cup of water. I greeted the dog as we entered the house, and then I placed my load on the kitchen island. I went back to the car for another load of grocery bags, which I then placed on the kitchen island. As I turned to head back to the car for yet another load, I stopped...

There was a bouquet of flowers laying on the kitchen counter, next to the sink. Red roses, with white hydrangeas.

I started crying. I stopped dead in my tracks, and just started crying. My cry, then, turned into that ugly cry.

You know how you sometimes carry that weight on your shoulders when something is in disarray? And then when the situation is resolved, you feel that weight lifted? Well, those flowers lifted that weight. My heart felt light. It was exactly what I needed to make things right. Despite a time zone and a couple thousand miles, Steve made me feel so special...and so loved. Those flowers made me no longer feel alone.

Ben had been helping me with bringing the bags in, and was in the kitchen when I saw the bouquet. As I cried, Ben was relating to the 'happy cry' thing, and shared some stories with me. It was very sweet. I think it's good when your children see you multi-dimensional like this.

After I placed the flowers in a vase, and put away all the frozen/refrigerated food, I called Steve. I opened the conversation with the fact that Ben saw me ugly cry. He knew exactly why I was calling. As I was recounting the chain of events to finding the bouquet, I started to cry again.

"It's just fucking flowers," I told him, trying to laugh through my tears. But the truth is, it's much more than just fucking flowers. I felt alone this afternoon. Like, really alone. Even though I know it wasn't Steve's fault for the late delivery, somehow it made me feel distant from him. I am way okay with this aviation lifestyle, and I like to think that I handle it pretty well, most times. But, today this one thing hit me *just* right.

Steve knew how down I was, and worked his magic to make it right. When I was driving home from work, he was running. While running he kept thinking how he can make this right. He had an idea.

He enlisted a friend to help him. Steve told said friend that the $80 bouquet that was delivered to my office today was now just a paper weight. Said friend totally understood, and jumped in to help. Said friend, and his daughter, delivered the goods while we were running errands. They entered through the garage door key-pad. Remember how Steve kept "checking in?" He was keeping tabs on us to help orchestrate this flower delivery.
this was the picture sent to Steve, showing the drop was successful

This anniversary, though apart, will go in the memory books for sure. I am reminded, once again, how lucky I am to be loved by my husband the way he loves me. And now, I think my favorite bouquet is red roses with white hydrangeas.




Friday, May 19, 2017

Divorce

Steve and I met 18 years ago. I was a junior in college, and Steve was flying a Saab for a corporate flight department. He picked me up at a bar. I first noticed his blue and yellow plaid shirt...who the hell wears spring colors on a cold late-winter Saturday night? He still has that shirt since I won't let him get rid of it. I gave him my phone number that night. I also gave my # to another guy (Greg, the accountant). The next night he called me, Steve the pilot that is, and a couple weeks later we went on our first date.

Steve always felt home to me, even on that first date. You will be happy to know he dressed much more appropriately on that first date: brown boots, jeans, and a green sweater. He still has that sweater since I won't let him get rid of it. But, he did back into a car that first date. And then two dates later he spilled a beer all over my lap. Pretty impressive guy, huh! I did experience his jumpseat on our second date. That was pretty cool, I have to say. He says he was nervous with the landing. I thought he did great. What the hell do I know about a good landing?

It didn't take long to realize this guy had something on me. But, I didn't realize he was "the one" until I went into the Peace Corps the year after I graduated college. Funny that it took an entire ocean for me to realize this about such a great man. In June we will celebrate 14 years of marriage.


In spite of all that love first felt when boy meets girl, when you think this love will last forever, divorce happens. And folks, it's upon me...it seems like I have reached that age where divorce is all around me. I mean, lots of my peer group are getting divorced. I've been warned about this time in my life, so I knew it was bound to happen. That still doesn't lessen the sting of the news of a newly initiated divorce.

There are marriages that end after a couple years. I have lived through those. The fact that kids weren't involved makes the news a little easier to take. Still sucks. Still require get-togethers filled with bottles of beer and wine to process it all. But, now I'm around marriages that are ending after a decade + and kids are involved. It sucks. Plain and simple. Divorce sucks.

So, why do I bring this up? I'm a writer...I have to express myself. And since there is a lot of divorce around me, I need to write about it. Being married to an airline pilot isn't easy. Hell, marriage isn't easy. I'm just putting my truth out there in an effort to support one another. This blog is all about being married to an airline pilot: the good, the bad, the ugly. I keep it real on here. I keep it real outside of here. I hear from my readers, and I know that keeping it real is refreshing. It helps validate this whack-a-do lifestyle of being married to an airline pilot.

Steve and I have a good marriage. We are both happy. We acknowledge this to one another. Certainly we aren't happy all-day, every-day...who the hell is?! But, overall we are happy. I work on our marriage. We work on our marriage. I read books on marriage. I read relationship articles. I talk with girlfriends, and guyfriends, about marriage and relationships. I blog about marriage. My intention of this post is to establish what has worked for us to maintain a happy marriage, and what I have learned from my friends that are divorced. 

I need to start with establishing Steve's character. I think it's important for me to note this, because I know that a principled man isn't always a given. Steve is a honorable man who respects me, honors me, and wants me to be happy.  He loves me. In fact, I think he loved me from the moment we met. After our second date he told his captain that he "was in trouble." His love for me is deep. Steve is a good man, plain and simple. His head is on straight, and his moral compass is pointed in the right direction. He admires me. He listens to me. He encourages me. He believes in me. For all this, I am grateful. I am thankful that he pursued me the way he did, and never gave up on me.

I had been editing this post for about a month. At first I was writing about the vows we took on that beautiful June day, and I was going to break those down. Commitment, sickness and health, richer and poorer, blah blah blah. But, we know all that stuff. Of course I believe in that. Of course! But, I'm not here to tell you what you already know...what everyone already knows. I'm here to tell you what I have discovered are the keys to a happy marriage, a successful marriage, outside of all that stuff.

When Steve and I first got married, I thought the keys to a successful marriage were trust and communication. I still stand by those. In fact, I will always believe that trust and communication are vital, the base, to a successful marriage.

I'm not sure if I am in the majority or the minority of pilot wives when it comes to trust. But, I trust Steve. It's as simple as that. I never challenge Steve's trust. Period. It has always been there. On our first date, I could just tell he was trustworthy, and that has remained consistent throughout all these years. When he is on the road, I don't worry about him hooking up with a flight attendant, or a female pilot. I just don't. I don't care who he goes to dinner or drinks with. I don't care who he talks to. His initial training sim partner was a woman, as a matter of fact...didn't bother me in the least. In fact, I am thankful for her because she helped name our son, in a way. I was insistent that my very unique maiden name be used as our first born's middle name. Steve was resistant...until his sim partner shared her middle name (her mother's maiden name) and her story with him. Steve's love, actions, and words towards me are enough to keep this trust going. I wish I could add more to this point, but there isn't much more I can say about it...trust is just there with us. Always has been.

As for communication, this can certainly be challenging when married to a pilot. On a day to day basis, you have to make the most of what you have. If he has a busy day where you only talk for 2 minutes on the phone, and you can tell he is disconnected, let it be. There will always be time to reconnect after the trip. Steve and I have grown into this pattern (of not talking much on the road and reconnecting when he is home) and we are both okay with it. We don't always call one another to say "good night." I don't make him call me after every leg. When he's on the road we may not talk all that much, and that's okay. Sure there are times when I text him multiple times and he doesn't respond. I can get pissy about it, but I just bite my tongue. Perhaps he is busy. Perhaps he is tired. We'll reconnect when he is home.

As for the really heavy stuff, when it comes to things that are hard to say, we have been known to email one another. This may sound odd to some, but it works for us. I express myself best through written word, so writing things out helps me express everything I need to get out.

I also want to emphasize the point that when it comes to the really heavy stuff...the stuff that is really hard to say...say it. The hardest thing I ever had to tell Steve was that I had thoughts of cheating on him. I told him when he was on the road. We were talking over the phone. We were at a bad point in our marriage, just a couple years into our marriage. When I told him, he got pissed. Like hung-up-the-phone-on-me pissed, which is something we never do. Like so pissed he took a while to call me back, pissed.

And here is the next part in the whole communication thing...despite me saying something that cut so deep...he heard me. I told him something that was really hard to say, and he heard me. Hearing that helped him realize how low I was, and how much I was hurting. I never cheated on him, for the record. But, imagine if he didn't "hear" my words and our marriage would have continued on the same negative path. We learned a lot from that experience, and are only stronger because of it. And it is testimony for how important it is to communication with your spouse, both saying something and really hearing those said words.

Okay, so trust and communication. Got it. What's the next thing I think is important for a successful marriage? Happiness. And this isn't just your own happiness, which is very important (but I don't want to make this post super long). The happiness I want to focus on is about striving to make your partner happy.

This is something that I came into the last couple years. Looking back, I have done it all along. It's in my nature to make people happy. I try to make Steve happy, and Steve tries to make me happy.  I start it when he gets home from a trip. I try my hardest to have the house in order upon his arrival. I want him to come into a happy home. I know that doing this makes him happy. And when he is happy, he makes me happy...and the upward spiral of happiness continues. Read the blog post I did about this, which gives more detail on this topic. When both partners strive to make the other happy, it keeps the marriage healthy. I swear by this.

He gets my travel coffee cup ready in the morning. He gets a drink for me at night, when we are both settled in on the couch, and I ask with a slight whine. Will you please get me a bubble water? He will put gas in the car so that I don't have to stop on my way into work. I put my shoes away. I clear clutter before he gets home. I have a meal waiting for him when he gets in after a trip. It is the little stuff like this that really do add up.




Keeping things real, also helps keep my marriage in a good place. I know that our marriage isn't perfect, and I accept that. I know there will be bad days, hell there are even bad weeks and bad months. But, that isn't going to dictate the overall health of our marriage. There have been nights that I have slept in another room simply because lying next to him would have either brought me to tears, or made me want to punch him in the face. We have had bad fights. I have looked him straight in the eyes and said "fuck you," on a train in Slovakia, no less. On our way to meet friends for dinner, no less. 2 days before he was leaving back to the states, no less. I still remember that fight clear as a bell, nearly 16 years later. He has left for trips were I didn't kiss him goodbye, or even tell him "goodbye." We have been to marriage counseling in the past. You see my point...we have had bad times. But, I know these times are only temporary. "This too shall pass," and with a bit of understanding and forgiveness and communication we can move past the troubles. Despite all the problems, we got through them and are only stronger because of it. I don't think that every day is going to be perfect, and I think recognizing that is important. I realize that a down time isn't going to break us. We don't give up when the times get tough.

Another reason why our marriage is successful is because we are in this together. This marriage is a partnership. Obviously when Steve is on the road he can't help out at home. But, when he is home he steps in. When he is home, I am still the one to get up with the kids on school days. But, I recognize I am a morning person, and he is NOT. I keep with our routine, and he jumps in if in the right mindset. Most time he helps out, although sometimes he feels like he gets in the way. But, there are times when he just sits at the island with a cup of coffee...this especially happens if he got in at 1am the night before and his internal clock is all fucked up. Us pilot wives know when to let an exhausted husband be.  Yes, there are times when he is so exhausted that he forgets to put the coffee cup in the Keurig. These are the times I give him the time and space he needs to get back to normal. Partnership, right?

We split the laundry duties, although lately he has been doing about 70% and I about 30%. We share duties on cleaning the house. If I ask him to run an errand he will, and vice versa. When I go grocery shopping, he will help bring the bags in and put things away. When I make dinner, he will clean up afterward. He helps get the kids ready for bed. You catch my drift at this point. If he didn't help out with all this, I would be burnt out.

Being married to an airline pilot may certainly feel like you aren't in this thing together, and you question the whole partnership thing. How can this be a partnership when he is gone all the time? It may feel like you are going through this life on parallels. I get that, believe me. Those nights when you are rocking your sick baby at 4am, for the third night in a row. Those events that he misses, like a friend's wedding or a company holiday party. Those times when you receive devastating news, and you won't be able to see one another for days. Those times when you have a home disaster and you have to deal all by yourself (Shit Happens). Those times when you feel like you are just giving and giving, and can't catch a freakin' break. We have all been there. But, through all those times when you feel like you don't have a partner in this partnership thing, never hold his job against him. Never hold his absence against him. Through all those shitty times, I am positive that Steve would have rather been home, right by my side, rather than thousands of miles away. Remember, he isn't away on vacation, he is working. Sometimes it is so hard to remind yourself of that, but if you don't keep that top of mind then you may be entering into a very slippery slope.

If you read my blog you know the concept of love languages, which is my next key to success. And if you pay attention, you know that my love language is physical touch, followed by words of affirmation. Steve's love language is acts of kindness. The other two, making a total of five, is quality time and gifts. I researched love languages after Steve got pissed at me about my shoes in the garage. He told me I was "disrespecting" him when I didn't put my shoes away neatly. I found his choice of words to be very interesting...how can shoes be disrespectful? So, I looked into things more...enter love languages. It wasn't just the shoes, it is the fact that he asked me over and over, and over and over, to put my damn shoes away...and I ignored him. I disrespected him. All he wanted me to do was put my shoes away. How hard was it to do that? I eventually got it. I understood that by my small act of putting my shoes away, I made him happy. I was pleasing him in a way that he needed to be pleased. I could give two-shits if my shoes are neatly put away, but I make an effort to do so because I know it fills Steve's love tank.

When I speak Steve's love language, I fill his love tank. When Steve speaks my love language, he fills my love tank. I am most happy when my love tank is filled. It's that simple. If Steve bought me gifts all the time, which is probably the lowest rank for me, but never held my hand, my love tank would be empty. If my love tank is low, I'm down. Remember how I told Steve I had thoughts of cheating on him? Yup, all because of an empty love tank. I'm at the point now where I recognize when my love tank is getting low. And if my love tank is getting low I tell Steve, and he knows exactly what to do. It's that simple. A marriage counselor once told me I had abandonment issues...nope, my love tank was low. I swear, after reading that book our marriage became so much easier. This is the one relationship book that I recommend over and over.

One last point: Steve and I work at our marriage. Marriage takes work. Marriage takes effort, which we recognize. A garden isn't going to grow if the soil is toxic, but if the soil is rich it will thrive. We make an effort to keep our marriage in a good place. We go on dates, although sometimes I wish it was more often. We have good sex. We make time for one another. We get away, just the two of us, every now and again. We hug. We kiss, which is always more funny when the kids catch us...Cici is at the age where she will scream out "ewww" and Ben is at the age where he quietly turns away and doesn't mention anything due to embarrassment. We don't neglect one another. Try to remember how hard you worked at your relationship when you first started dating: planning dates, trying to make your partner happy, writing loving words to one another, ect. And think about now. Don't become roommates. Remember to put that effort into your marriage.

As I wrap up this post, I want to point out that all these keys to a happy marriage are intertwined. If we had the best communication, but my love tank was low, I wouldn't be happy. If I looked straight into Steve's eyes when he was telling me something important, but I really didn't hear him, then he wouldn't be happy. If I worked my ass off, both when Steve was away and when he was home, I would be beat and incredibly overwhelmed all the time. See how it all intertwines? All the above really are, in my eyes, keys to a successful and a happy marriage. Wishing all the married couples out there much happiness.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

No distractions

My husband is an overachiever. When he does something, he wants to excel at it. When something needs done, he puts his full attention to the matter. So, when it comes time for his proficiency check (PC), or is it recurrent training?...whatever the hell it is called now, he takes time to prepare. He has been flying the same airplane for 10 years now, so he is obviously very skilled with the aircraft, but he still studies. He prepares. All of the above makes him distracted and somewhat stressed on the days leading up to his time in the sim. I just smile and grin my way through those days. Even the kids can tell he is a bit out of character. He admits that he puts the pressure on himself, even when he doesn't really need to. Again, overachiever.

Steve left for his PC early Wednesday morning. He got home late Thursday evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 1pm or so, I got a call from the nurse at my daughter's school. "This isn't an emergency, but Cici came in here telling me she couldn't see out of one eye..."

The nurse and I continued to have a conversation that over the weekend Cici told us the same thing, but we didn't react much to it. We did the whole "how many fingers am I holding up?" thing, she passed, and we went on. But, now that it happened again, I grew concerned.

I called Cici's pediatrician, confirmed she needed to be seen, and scheduled an appointment for Thursday morning at 8:20a. So there I was Wednesday afternoon, sitting at my desk at work, googling these symptoms. Detached retina came up, and I started to freak out. Then I started thinking brain tumor. Of course my mind ran away, and I grew more and more concerned. Tears came to my eyes a couple times, but then I turned on the "don't cry at work...everything will be okay..." mood. I distracted myself, and tried not to let my mind get carried away.

When I picked Cici up from school that Wednesday afternoon, I certainly asked her a ton of questions. Here is the summary: during an episode, of which she has had three, she will have blacked out vision out of her right eye. Her whole vision isn't black, just block objects. Say she is looking at me, my silhouette will be black...and then there will be pink or purple auras around me. And if she blinks, that blacked-out silhouette may switch to our dog, or whatever object is next to me. Each episode will last for a couple minutes. The right eye will go numb for a bit, also.

I asked her to draw what she sees. "N" is for normal. "S" is for strange, which is what she sees during an episode.



Once Cici told me she was seeing auras, which wasn't discussed during my conversation with the school nurse, I took to google again. Anything from migraines to spiritual mediums came up. I have to say, I did find some peace with those search results...and the fact that Cici was her total normal self.


Steve called me around 9pm or so, Wednesday night. "How was your day?" he asked.

"Oh, just fine." I could tell his mood was more light. He said the day went well. He was about to head out to dinner with his captain. For a brief second, again since his mood was light, I thought about telling him. I refrained. Don't distract him. 

We were out the door at 7:30am Thursday morning. Trash needed out to the curb. Cleaning lady was coming, so that took prep work. The dog needed walked. School snacks and lunches. All before 7:30am. Ben was dropped off at the neighbors and caught the school bus with a friend.

During Cici's appointment, the MD checked Cici out and asked a lot of questions. He also gave her an eye exam. He thinks this is a type of migraine, perhaps an ocular migraine. He also mentioned "Alice in Wonderland Syndrome." He didn't feel the need to do any scans at this point. He didn't seem overly concerned. He did ask that we keep a diary of these episodes, and he gave me the name of a neurologist, whom I will call if she has another episode or two.

After the appointment, I dropped Cici off at school, and then talked to my mom and sister. They knew the whole run down of everything. Others knew the full story, and Steve had yet to find out anything.

The last thing I wanted to do was tell Steve and have him worry about this, especially since it wasn't an urgent issue. If he were on a trip, that would be one thing, since there wouldn't have been the stress of his PC. But I wanted to keep his PC time as distraction-less (is that even a word?) as possible.

Steve called me around 4pm on Thursday afternoon. He was at the airport and ready to catch his flight home. His PC was over, and he was ready to get home. I give him the full run down on what happened in the last 36 hours. He asked a couple questions here and there, and I was able to answer them. All was well. I handled everything like a pro...he trusts my parenting...and the day goes on...


***

I wanted to add a bit more to this story, but wanted to keep it separate from the story above...

As I mentioned above, Cici's MD appointment was Thursday morning at 8:20a. We were out the door at 7:30a. I prepped Wednesday evening as much as I could to make life easier on Thursday morning.

One of these "prep" activities was to get things ready for the cleaning lady. This entails getting all the clutter put away so she can clean and do her work as efficiently as possible.

Well, truth be told, come Wednesday night at 9pm, I was tired. I had been up and active for the past 14 hours, and I was a bit stressed with Cici's vision trouble. The whole solo parenting thing isn't always easy. When it came time to getting the kitchen ready, any excessive papers went into a pile on the side counter. This side counter is our "hub" of sorts...electronics are charged there, papers are stored there neatly in a wooden organizer. This newly formed pile-o-papers were not in the wooden organizer, but rather stacked *next* to the wooden organizer.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon when Steve addressed said pile-o-papers. "You know I don't like clutter."

"Well, then go through it," I responded. And so he did. He was two papers in, asking me what to do with each of the papers: keep or pitch. I wasn't in the mood, so I told me that I didn't want to do this now. He got pissy. I could tell. I ignored it. I think he went on to sort through the papers without my input.

And then I got to thinking a bit later, and took my thoughts into the laundry room where he was folding items out of the dryer. I told him that he needs to watch his words with me. I explained that I had a ton of shit to get done all because of Cici's out of the ordinary vision issue/appointment, and the only energy I had for the papers was to put them in a pile.

I told him to have mercy on me. I told him I can't do everything all the time. He emphasized that he wasn't pissed. I know better, I've know the man for 18 years. I know he was pissed...he really hates clutter. But, I also know that he saw my point. Steve is a good man, he really is, so I know he heard me. He didn't push back.

Sometimes he just needs a bit of a reminder that I can't do it all.

I am adding this last bit to the story, because I think it is a good reminder to all the pilots out there that we deal with a lot of shit on the home front when you are gone, and a lot of it you don't even realize. All-the-while we make it look all pretty for when you get home. Don't take that for granted. And perhaps before you criticize when something is not done, or not done the right way, think about how things looked on our end.