Steve looked right at me and said "you act as if our kids are a burden."
There had just been one other time in our relationship that I wanted to punch Steve in the face. That was during one of his visits when I was in Peace Corps in Slovakia. We were on the train and headed towards Kosice to visit some friends for dinner. He was sitting right across from me - I had the perfect angle of attack. I resisted. During that 30 minute train ride I had many thoughts of throwing him from the train. I resisted. That was the longest 30 minutes of my life.
After the 'kids are a burden' comment, I wanted to punch him again. I resisted. Instead, I spent the next 2-3 days our of vacation sour towards him.
Last fall my family and I started to plan a lake vacation for Summer 2012. Steve didn't get awarded vacation for the summer (still too junior). Due to this, we decided to go for the week that straddles two bid periods, which would hopefully make bidding the time off a bit easier. It worked! The week was the last couple days of July into the first couple days of August. Due to Steve bad-ass bidding ability, well aside from his shit July schedule, he was able to get the entire week off. Sweet! One issue? The Saturday morning we needed to leave, he was getting in on a red-eye. No problem - I am pilot-wife-woman, hear me roar. I can do it all!
Let me back track the week before we left. On Tuesday morning Steve left for a three day, which ended on a red-eye Thursday morning. He left again on Friday morning for a quick two day, arriving on Saturday morning at 6:45a. This meant that I was with the kids a lot during the week. Come day 4 I am ready for a tag-team effort of Steve, not to keep going and going and going.
Yes, Steve was around on Thursday after he slept off his red-eye, but he spent pretty much the entire afternoon cleaning out the car, which was MUCH needed. That night he hit a wall around 8pm, and I helped put the kids down.
On Friday with Steve gone, it was all me preparing for the trip. Washing, packing, cleaning, organizing, planning, shopping, ect. You get the picture. I needed to get the entire car and house prepared for our week away from home. The kids and I were leaving the house at 6:15am on Saturday morning to drive to the airport to pick Steve up. I needed to be as prepared as possible.
Everything went as planned. Did you ever question by ability to be awesome? We picked Steve up, and we were on our way to a wonderful week at the lake. As a side, I urge any pilots out there to know their contract. In short, Steve fulfilled his work obligations (he is a line holder), yet they were trying to reassign him. Steve knows his contact, and knows his contractual obligations. They, on the other hand, try to make you feel like you are doing something wrong. After numerous phone calls, they stopped...
I proceeded to drive the next 4 hours. Steve drove the last 2. Finally, we arrived for a week of relaxing and fun.
Fast forward two days, when Steve gave me the comment from hell.
That morning the women took the kids for some swimming at a bay and then for a little stroll and lunch downtown. When I say kids, I am talking 5 kids. Ages 7, 5, 4, 3 and 2. When I say women, it was me, my sister, my mom, and my two aunts.
I love all the kids dearly, I really do. But, get them all together, add a mix of swimming, sand, changing clothes, walking 2 blocks to a hot dog shop, eating hot dogs, and then back another 2 blocks to the car...oh, and mix in stops at the stores for sunglasses, and then t-shirts, and then popcorn...and you can see what I am getting at. And I love my family, I really do, but when you get lots of women doing what we want/need to do, it is exhausting.
What was Steve doing all the while? Golfing.
He went with my uncle and brother-in-law.
When we finally pulled in the driveway and got out of the car after our morning/afternoon out, I was ready for the tag-team effort of Steve. I had a somewhat stressful couple hours, and I needed to unwind and just chill. I figure that he should have been all fresh after those 18 holes. Instead, I got the comment from hell.
Memory doesn't serve me entirely correct, so I am not sure of the exact chain of events that caused Steve to say that to me. I am sure I had a sour-puss look on my face, and I am sure I shot him a couple bad looks, and I am sure my body language was shouting at him. I am sure that I gave him a couple snarky remarks. My bad attitude lead to his comment, no doubt.
But, here is what was going through my head: why is it that I had to manage the kids, yet again, while he got to spend 4 hours on the gold course with just adults. Yes, there was some residual resentment and pissed-off-ness because it was all me that prepared for our departure, after a week of me solo with the kids. And I had to deal with the kids even more...all the while he was engaging in adult activities. Not fair. Not fair, at all.
Shortly after we got home is when Steve told me that "you act as if our kids are a burden." I wanted to punch him good (really good!) for that comment. Instead, I just turned and walked away, and proceeded to be pissed off and quiet towards him for a couple days. Later that night, Steve suggested we push the "reset" button on us - um, not gonna happen after such a stinging comment.
We all know I don't take criticism well, especially when it comes to my and how I raise my kids, so that made the comment string that much more. How dare Steve criticize me and tell me my kids are a burden, when there is nothing further from the truth...and after he just spent 4 hours golfing! The fact that I care for the kids all by myself 4 days a week proves that I care deeply for the kids. Yet, he tells me they are a burden to me. The nerve! I had a somewhat stressful morning, after a couple stressful days before, and all I needed was to relax...not a comment like that.
Here is where I struggle as a pilot wife: when Steve is gone at work, I don't think of him working. Rather, I think of him just being away from home-life. I know he has long days that can drain him, and pairings that fuck with this body clock. I know that. Yet, most times when he is away I don't think of that. Rather, I think of him sitting alone in a hotel room, quietly watching a movie. Or maybe out for dinner and drinks with his CA.
I know that Steve deserves to relax when at home, or on vacation, just as much as I do. Work is hard on him, and can take a toll. He needs to unwind, and regroup when home and on vacation. But, I tend to override this and make my needs go to the forefront. I figure that since it is all me with the kids for 4 days at a time, I should be the first to relax...not him. Fair? Now, how is that any fair to Steve?
See the struggle? It is hard to balance these thoughts and feelings and actions, no doubt.
Sure, I wanted Steve to go golfing so that he could relax and enjoy some 'me time', yet I bitch about it when he gets back. See how it is hard for me to balance? Now, in my defense, Steve did golf a second time during the week, and there was no bitching done by me after he got back. There is no doubt that the somewhat stressful day lead to me being pissed off that first golf outing, and that my laid back afternoon that second outing lead to me being more accepting of Steve being gone.
I know 'me time' is important for both me and Steve, in order for us to be fulfilled. I know I need to loosen up sometimes and let Steve do his thing without me bitching. I know I do. It is just so hard. It is so hard when it is you taking care of the kids 100% when he is gone, and then going back to that 100% when your pilot is gone again doing some 'me time' thing. I have been at this for 5 years now, and I am still finding my way around this.
I am sure I/we will figure this balance out. Until then, we will just muddle our way through it. And don't worry, I eventually did get over that comment...after a day or two...maybe three?