Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A son needs his father

Let it be known that I don't take criticism well. 

Remember the guy I sat next to on the way to Vegas?  Overall, I liked him.  He was a nice row buddy for a 4 1/2 hour flight.  But, he did say something to me that stung.  At one point we got to talking about occupations that take you away from home.  This is a natural dialogue that often comes up when you mention that your husband is a pilot.  Well, his son travels for work as well.  If memory serves me right the son goes away for weeks at a time to do installations of sewer systems...or something like this.  Keeping that in mind, and stating again that he is gone weeks at a time, the man was talking about how it was hard on the family, especially the 4-year-old son.  The man then said "a son needs his father."

BAM!  I took that as criticism on how I am raising my family.  So, was he implying that I am not raising my son, and daughter, in the best environment possible?  Was he saying that my children will not thrive because Steve isn't around all the time? Are my kids going to suffer because Steve isn't always home?

Now let's not forget, Papa, that you are currently on a plane.  This plane is being flown by two pilots, who probably have kids.  They are hauling your ass so that you can see your daughter in Arizona.  Yes, these pilots have chosen this job, and are doing their job, and getting paid for doing their job.  But because of people like you, there is a need for those guys up there.  So, don't tell me that it sucks for my son that his Daddy isn't around when you are using the very service that my pilot husband provides for people like you.  See how I don't take criticism well. I can get kind of get bitchy. That aside, let me also establish that I am thankful for Papa and all the people who fly the friendly skies, because it keeps my husband working and keeps food on our table...just don't tell me that my son is going to suffer since his Daddy isn't always around.

*****

Remember that I had a business trip last week that took me to ATL for the day. Since I had a o'dark hundred alarm clock and just an all around busy day, by the time I got to the gate for my 4:09p flight I was beat.  I sat down at a bank of chairs, looked at the man next to me, and said "I am ready to go home."

This was an ice breaker, and we proceeded to talk for the next 10 minutes or so.  He was an interesting guy.  Middle-aged, married, had teenage kids, from Romania, a petroleum engineer who now works with engineering concrete.  He travels a lot for work.  At one point there was discussion about him being gone a lot and the effects on his kids.

BAM!  Twice in a couple weeks.  I don't take criticism well, people!

*****

Ben's imagination is really active right now. This means that unfamiliar sounds must be made by ghosts, and he gets scared.  He doesn't like going to his bedroom alone because it is dark, and of course dark = scary. You get the picture.  His active imagination also means imaginative play...so, trips back into the woods with Daddy means it is time to play "jungle monsters."  Ben loves playing "jungle monsters" and Steve plays right along.


I have made it know that Steve is a very hands on Dad.  When Steve plays with the kids, he gets way into it.  This means hours at the race track:


or getting into costume to play superheros:

I think this all makes for Ben loving this playtime, and missing it all-the-more when Daddy isn't around.  Lately, when Steve leaves for a trip Ben will later tell me "Daddy and I didn't play jungle monsters."  They did, in fact, play jungle monsters, but Ben just wants more of it.

When Ben says things like this, it isn't a BAM! but rather a SHATTER!  That is the sound of my heart breaking.  It breaks my heart when Ben wants Daddy and he isn't around. These are the times when I wish Steve were home every night.  See Papa, you don't have to tell me that my son is going to suffer...Ben tells me firsthand that he is suffering.  That hurts worst of all.


*****

I often think about the reality that is our life, and the home environment that the kids are being brought up in.  When I get these BAM! moments again and again, it makes me question things.  It is sad to think that these kids want for their Daddy.  Is this really the life these kids live?  Are the kids going to resent Daddy for being gone all the time?  What are we doing here?! Family is top priority and this job is effecting this top priority.  This is just a job. Is it worth it? 

And then I settle down, and reason takes over.  There will be moments here and there that the kids get upset.  There will be moments here and there that I get upset thinking about Steve being out of our lives 4-days a week.  But, they are just moments.  And, they are kids.  Kids are resilient.  They will deal with this reality just fine.  Why?  Because reality is the world in which you are born. 

These kids were born into a life where Daddy is gone.  The kids know no different.  Just like Steve thought that all parents had the summers off since his teacher parents did, our kids probably think that all Daddys leave for work.  And by the time they realize what really happens in households, it won't make a difference.  Why? Because this is their reality and their norm will have been totally established by that point. 

I also want to make the point that Ben is only 4 1/2-years-old, so I am still pretty new to this parenting thing.  I still don't know enough to know that having a pilot Daddy is okay since the kids are still so young.  And CC is so young that she probably doesn't totally get when Steve is and isn't gone.  She will mention him, I will say that he is working, and that is that.  This lack of years and experience is why I still question this lifestyle at times. Maybe this questioning will never go away?  Maybe I will question myself more and more the older the kids get?

When I have any doubt, I always think about a dear Peace Corps friend of mine whose father is a (now retired) airline pilot.  I never heard her talk about her dad being gone all the time, or anything negative about his job.  This is my saving grace.  She is a very well rounded, bright, accomplished, beautiful woman.  I always think of her and say "if she can have a pilot Dad and turn out normal, then it can be done!"

This all circles back to the point I have made before about making your home a happy place, a place that your pilot wants to come home to.  In making it a happy place for your pilot, you are also making it a happy place for your kids.  I mentioned that I had a bad attitude lately.  Folks, the clouds have cleared out.  CAVU!  My attitude is back to normal, and you know what...my kids are better behaved.  No question.  My attitude rubbed off on them, both bad and good.  I mention this because if I keep the home a happy place, then the kids will have a happy childhood...with and without the presence of Steve.  Maybe I should go as far as saying that it is our job to help our kids not miss Daddy.  This may put more pressure on you as a mother, but it will pay off!  You are the constant in the kids life, so you have a pretty big job to do.

When I look back on the 14 years that Steve and I have been together, I don't think about all the times he was gone.  Ok, maybe I will think about the things he misses, here and there.  More so, I think about all the times he was present.  Day-in/day-out life is rather mundane.  Steve misses the mundane part of life.  We need to focus on the times he is home, and make the most of it.  Those moments will make the memories of our lives.  Hey, and let's not forget that because of Steve's occupation we get to travel to some pretty badass places.  Now, that is when some great memories will be made.

Maybe Steve isn't spending the most quantity of time with the kids, but at least Steve spends quality time with the kids.  And maybe that will be my response when someone criticizes remarks to me about how hard it must be on the kids to have a Daddy that is gone all the time.  









18 comments:

  1. Not only does my pilot husband travel, but I also travel frequently for work. I've been getting a lot of "It must be so hard on you to be away from your kids" that's been BAMing me, recently. I don't see it as hard on the kids, any more than having a sibling (or not having a sibling) is hard on kids. I'm in a cloudy patch like you mentioned you're pulling out of, working to shake it off for my sake and my kids'. Thanks for bringing up this and the other topics you cover on here.

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    1. I hope the clouds clear for you soon!

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  2. What a great blog post! I couldn't relate to this more than if I wrote it myself. I also get down sometimes thinking if this will effect my kids later on in life. But then I also think that on a random Wednesday, we are all home hanging out together all day. So there are the good's and bad's of this whole pilot life thing. I am also dumb founded at the comments people make to me, as a pilot's wife. People have some nerve, don't they?

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    1. I have said it over and over, us pilot wives live the same life and we can all relate to one another. We are more connected then we realize.

      I think when people say hurtful things, they don't get how hurtful it really is. When Papa, on the plane, was saying how his grandson was effected I think he forgot that I had a traveling husband and young kids. He didn't realize that I would take his tales and transfer them to my life.

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  3. I received a nice email from a friend the other day after he read my blog. I wanted to post it here in my comments so that other pilot wives can read it. It made me feel good, and I hope it does the same for you.


    "I remember when my dad would be gone for work or business trips.
    We were so happy to see him when he came home and we enjoyed the time together.

    Brings back memories of dad bringing us candy cigarettes(which we thought were hilarious) and we loved it when dad would sing and tuck us into bed. Some of my best childhood memories.

    So even though Steve might be gone, the time spent with the kids when he comes back is magnified in importance and valued more than if he were around day to day.

    I know Steve puts the kids first when he comes home; I think that is the main thing."

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    1. It's really a comforting email. It's not the quantity of hours spent with the kids that matters, it's the quality of hours they enjoyed while being with each other. The kids will soon grow up and understand things well by then. For sure Steve, while in his duty, wants to be home and have time for you and your kids but reality is far different from illusion. Even some fathers who are not working as hard as Steve nowadays are not giving so much of their time for the kids. And in that point, maybe Steve has outperformed them in giving quality time with kids.

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    2. Steve is surely spending quality time with the kids, no question. And yes, that email really was very comforting! And every time the kids give Steve the biggest hug when he gets home, that gives me comfort as well.

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  4. Because I work in the oil-field, I'm gone from home anywhere from a week to a month. It pains me to leave my darling family, but it provides them with a comfortable lifestyle.

    When my daughter was 3 or 4, she began pouting before I left. It got serious when she began telling me she hated me. I had an inspiration! I explained that she was able to have her toys and stuffed pets (62 of them at the time) because Daddy was making the money to pay for them when he worked.

    You could see the light bulb appear over her head! When I was leaving the next day to go to a well, she came up to me with a smileon her face, told me to be carefull and that she and Mommy would think of me everyday.

    I couldn't help but breakdown laughing.

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    1. That is sweet. It is hard for kids to make the connection that work = $. That is good that she understands now.

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  5. Im a 30 yrs old FO working in an airline flying long haul in the asean region

    I have two kids. They are twin boys. They are 2 years old and i love them. Dearly.

    Currently im writing this from my hotel room in london
    I was contemplating divorce with my wife. We were married for 3 years but known each other for maybe 10 years or something like that.

    Weird thing is i was googling life as a single dad and being a pilot at the same time. It brings me to your blog. Your blog is a reminder what a happy family is to me and i am happy with my life. Its just that my wife doesnt trust me and we keep on fighting on stupid things like you know. Stupid things.

    Your blog made me realise what the day is like for my wife and the things she had to endure.

    Of course i know what her day is like but u know, to read it from someone who is half the world away and having the same banal problem made it so much real.

    I dont know what to say actually. Maybe thank you. For making me see. And making me miss my boys even more.

    Now lets find that website about single father raising twin boys and flying around the world at the same time. Wish me luck

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    1. I am glad you found my blog, and that I was able to provide some insight. I have always said that trust and communication are musts in a relationship, especially when one travels all the time. I hope you are able to work through your trust issues, and I hope you are able to make the best decision for you and your family. I will suggest you take a look into Joel Osteen. Ironically, I just watched about 5 minutes of his program before i got online, and he talked about relationships. He is very enlightening and encouraging. You may find some answers if you listen to him.

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  6. I am currently reading this post as I was doing some catching up on the Pilot's wives club website! My husband is a coporate pilot so that means sometimes he is gone for days/nights at a time, but it also means he is home for longer stretches too, and I see a daddy who spends quality time with his son! I think that he doesn't take the time he has with them for granted because of the time he has been away! I have tried to explain to my son who is upset even if he is gone for one night that he actually gets to spend more time with him then some dad's who work a 9 to 5 schedule! I don't think a job or a schedule defines someone's parenting skills or ability it's all about working with what you've got! Best of luck to you!

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    1. You are right, I think that our pilots don't take family time for granted.

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  7. I am a brand new pilots wife and although we don't have trust issues, I am very worried about having children. Before I met my husband having children was very important to me and now I have started to become reluctant. I realised it was the thought of bringing them up alone, my husband missing important days and him still having the ability to be free and travel. After reading your blogs you have made me realise how important my role is in the relationship and how enjoyable family life can be when you are married to a pilot. Thank you ladies for all your insight :)

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    1. Congratulations on your recent marriage. And, welcome to the pilot wife world :) When you begin to raise a family you will be tested, no question. You will get through it, and thrive...there will be no other choice. You will grow into a very strong, independent woman and mother. You will have rough days, but you will mostly have days where you almost amaze yourself at how you can do it all.

      If you haven't found her yet, Katie (http://www.takeoffwithkatie.com/2012/07/balancing-marathon.html) just had #2, and is in the thick of what it is like to be married to a pilot with wee-little ones around. You may want to check her out.

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  8. This blog is like my personal Cosmo magazine advice column (and I probably wouldnt even be able to get such relevant advice from them)! The boy and I are both fresh in the relationship as well as fresh at the whole piloting thing. I look forward to more stories from you!

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    1. Glad to have your aboard (pardon the pun). Welcome!

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    ReplyDelete