Thursday, August 23, 2012

The never ending story

When I married my pilot, I knew I would sleep alone some nights.

When I married my pilot, I knew he would have to work on Christmas Day.

When I married my pilot...I didn't know how much I would carry on my plate when it came to raising the kids, or how much Steve would actually miss in our life, or how much weight I would carry on my shoulders.  I believe that no pilot wife/mother ever really knows what this is all like until you actually live it.  Hell, I didn't even know how much weight it was, or how much he would miss, until just recently...and the kids are 3 and 5!  As the kids get bigger, I know situations get more elevated so I know the pressure will only get greater.

When I decided to marry Steve, I did not fully understand what my role as a mother would be.  I am sure I thought about it.  I must have thought about it.  But, I know now that I didn't fully understand what it would be like.  I can only imagine what else is in store for us.   

**

Wanna know how much I carry on my plate when it comes to raising the kids?  I missed kindergarten orientation for Ben...

That is how much...

Sometimes I have SO much going on, I forget things.  Sometimes I think it is the brain tumor that is sucking all my memory.  Of all things to forget, it had to be Ben's orientation...and Mrs. Smith must think that I am one stellar mom.

The orientation was happening during the 2 hour summer picnic one evening at the kid's school.  The picnic had food, games and a fun magic show.  After the magic show, another K mom walked up to me and said "why weren't you at the orientation...I thought Ben was going to be in school."

Oh shit!

I made a bee-line right towards the K room, met Mrs. Smith's eyes and said "Oh my God, I am so sorry!"

What a great first impression!  I hope Ben is not forever typecast as the kid with an aloof mom.  I just hope that Mrs. Smith has some mercy on me once she learns that Steve is an airline pilot.  If it helps pull in some bonus points, I would force Steve into his uniform and make him do a "job" day for Ben's class. 

*****

First comes a missed orientation...and next comes the first day of school.  In preparation for the first day I had to pack Ben's backpack for kindergarten.  My little boy is going to school...and Steve is flying the friendly skies and will miss it all. 

I packed this picture on Ben's bag, per the request of items to bring on the first day of school. 

I like this picture.  This was taken last year at the air show.  We are sitting in the cowling of a 737.  Impressed I know that word, aren't you?!  Probably just as impressed as Steve was when he started flying this plane, coming from a RJ, and could actually get into the cowling.  Ben had a spider painted on his face, and CC has the cutest little pigtails.  It was hot as fuck that day, but we still had a great time.

I think I will always like this picture.  As much as Steve doesn't want to be defined by his occupation, his occupation has formed our family structure into what it is.  I like having little touches of planes and flight in our home.  Plus, when a K parent looks at this picture I hope they think "oh Ben's dad must be a pilot, that is why he is never around" rather then the thought of "you know, I never see Steve around...I wonder if they are having marital problems."  (Yes, we are still married.)

So, as I was packing Ben's bag, I couldn't help but get a bit upset that Steve wasn't going to be there to see Ben off to his first freakin' day of school.  A father should not miss a child's first day of school, just as a father should never miss a child's birthday.

I am sure Steve will miss most first days of school.  As with everything, missing the first of anything is shit...and then you get used to it.

I know I never thought about Steve missing the first day of school before we had kids.  Of all the thoughts I had about kids with a pilot dad, this was not one of them.  And, that is why it is so important to be able to roll with the punches as a pilot wife...because you don't know what is ahead of you.  You have to adjust and make the most of any situation.

**

Rolling with the punches, what?

Funny you mention that...the story just continues on.  The day before Ben's first day in K, I picked him up from pre-school and he had a 102 temp.  Apparently, 10 kids in his class were sick with this same "only a fever for a symptom" virus.  Ben was one of the lucky 10 to get the virus.

The morning of Ben's first day of K, he had a 101.3 temp.  After a little more bed time that morning, and 1 1/2 tsp of ibuprofen, and we headed out.  Ben was acting fine.  It was Ben's first day of school...I couldn't let him miss it.

Off to school we went, and all was well.  I had it in the back of my head that I would be getting a call from school. 

I did that afternoon.  I was actually in the middle of a pretty urgent work situation, but motherhood calls.  And when your pilot husband is 3 states away, there is shit he can do about the situation...it is all you!  I am truly blessed to have a boss who is so understanding.  Having a boss that is flexible and understanding is something I am so grateful for!  I wrapped up some items, and left in a hurry. 

Ben's temp got up to 103.9.  Lovely.

Steve is gone.  It is all me. Kid sick?  It is you off work. Or, it is you arranging things. The weight on my shoulders...

Steve was on day 3 of a 4-day when all of this was going down.  He was at a hub during the afternoon and had just one leg to fly that day.  I figured I would ask if he could "just drop the rest of the trip and come home."

I expected, and I got a "no."

Of course Steve is able to drop any trip at any time, so if I really needed it he would have done it.  It just sucks that I can pretty much never rely on him being home.  I believe he has only ever called off a trip once for a sick kid.   Tick-tock, tick-tock. It is all on me to arrange for things when Steve is gone...the weight on my shoulders...

Not to mention, during the night when Ben was at his peak of not feeling well, who had to wake up multiple times to address a child's cry and whine?  Me.  Of course I rushed right in, and did so happily and with care.  I am just adding this point to further establish how much a pilot wife can bare...and handle...when her pilot is away. 


**

This is the life of a pilot's wife.

I want to establish that I am not complaining...I am simply sharing my life.  This is my life.  This is our life.

We, pilot wives, have to roll with the punches, adjust, and be able to carry the weight of our family life on your shoulders.  Easy enough, right?  There are still some times when I actually surprise myself with my ability to do all that I do.

And this is all the exact reason that I grab a beer the second Steve walks in the door after a 4-day, and sit my ass on the recliner.  Mama needs a breather!













13 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. We made it through the weekend, and Ben is now better and back at school...all is well :)

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  2. Replies
    1. we are awesome, aren't we. We can deal with anything :-)

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    2. That's a lesson in positive thinking: not "it sucks that I have to do all this," but "I am awesome because I can do all this."

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    3. I think that if we did think that everything sucked it would be a very unhappy life. You have to stay positive to stay happy with this lifestyle.

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  3. Man, you do a great job of conveying life on the other side of a pilot's schedule! While I know Steve could always call in sick for certain special days, it's got to be super-duper-ly rare...tho personally I would have been mighty tempted to do so on that all-important 1st day!! That said, I know Steve has his (very good) reasons for NOT doing so...and you gotta trust him on that. Lost pay, lack of sick bank, another recent sick call...who knows, but you gotta keep that head low enough below the foxhole that it doesnt get shot at by an overzealous crew scheduler or mid-management type!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. I do trust Steve and his reasonings...and I never push it. Hell, even when I was in labor with Ben he was on day 3 of a 4-day. I called him and said "I am not telling you to come home - I am telling you I am having contractions." He made the call to come home...thank goodness.

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  4. It will get easier. School establishes a routine and routines are a parent's next to best friend. As senority increases he will have more flexability. Hang in there.

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  5. Joanna, I just wanted to thank you for this post. I'm fairly new to your blog but really appreciate reading about your life as a pilot wife and seeing the parallels in my own life. I'm mom to three year old and three week old daughters and married to a junior captain at a regional airline. It's really hard sometimes especially right now with a newborn-it's a juggling act and I have my moments of feeling overwhelmed. It helps tremendously to know/read about other pilot wives going through stresses too. So thank you for your blog and perspective!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you for finding my blog, and all your kind words.

      I have said this over and over, us pilot wives have parallel lives, no question. We all have the same struggles and challenges...and the more support we have through this, the easier it is to navigate.

      Congratulations on your latest addition! Yes, it is overwhelming at times, but with a little time you will become totally adjusted and all will be good :)

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  6. I have a big question... Have you guys ever had to deal with commuting? My man and I have been going back and forth with talking about the pros and cons. Thanks for your input!

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    1. Yes, we have had to deal with commuting. Let me first start by saying that our brains are wired to forget bad things. Yes, commuting is that bad...at least it was for me. Therefore, I don't recall too much about those commuting days.

      The first time Steve commuted was when he was at a regional airline. I was still in college, and our relationship was still green. Since I was busy doing my college thing and since we were simply dating, seeing him once or twice a week was fine.

      The second time Steve commuted was when he got hired mainline. We knew his commuting would be temporary, and once the perm bid came out a short 6 months, or so, later he was home. Again, I don't recall much of this time since I know my brain forgot a lot of it.

      There are rumors that his current base may close in the next couple years. We talk about options. As much as I love where we live, on SO many levels, we would move to any new base he chose. Period.

      Steve misses enough of my life. He misses enough of Ben and CC's lives. I do not want Steve to miss any more of it. I married Steve, not my house and not my city. He is our life, and our life will move to which ever base he may be transfered to.

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