Monday, August 6, 2012

You act as if our kids are a burden

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?





















 


25 comments:

  1. That comment might have gotten my husband punched. I need to learn restraint. You handled the situation much better than I would have.

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    1. Oh believe me, I was rather close to not being able to restrain myself ;)

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  2. I don't know you you pilot wives do it with kids, I would go postal! We have enough problems trying to balance "us" without kids, good luck and good for you for not decking him, I probably would have!

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    1. Balancing is a very careful act, no doubt. It takes years to perfect...if perfection could even be achieved.

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  3. Hooey, not gonna touch dis! Steve, you in da doghouse!!

    Good luck resolving ;)

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    1. He is no longer in the doghouse, but it was a chilly couple days there....

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  4. Oh my...I would have blown up at that point. My DH has said that to me but not so bluntly. It really is a balance and here we are 3 1/2 years into it with kids and we still have yet to figure out something that gives us both what we need! It's definitely a WIP...work in progress!

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    1. hey, I am 5 years into it and still figuring it out...hopefully it won't take another 5 years :)

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  5. The truth is, the kids *are* a burden. And a blessing. My husband has no idea how it feels to be burdened by our children because he has never been the solo parent for days, weeks, months on end. I have no idea how it feels to miss them because I've never been away from them long enough to miss them.

    Your post is so familiar. I know my husband needs a break when he comes home from a trip. I think to myself, "The charitable thing to do would be to let him sleep in because he got home late last night." So I do. But the resentment builds in spite of myself. Eventually, it seeps out, he can tell I'm mad and it ruins the effort I made to be nice. :(

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    1. I have been away from the kids for only a short time when Steve has had to take care of them 100%. Usually if I am away from the kids, Steve is with me. So, he too has not experienced the 100% for the length of time like we do.

      Exactly! I tried to be nice by letting him golf, yet it turns out badly.

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  6. "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."

    Quite so. Did you ever consider that Steve carries a heavy burden? His job requires him to be at the top of his game always or people will DIE. His mind worries about problems and horrors you can't even imagine.

    He has a good job now, but could lose it all if he fails a medical or a flight check. And even if he never once makes a mistake or steps out of line, his airline could fail. Many airlines have. I'll bet he worries a lot about your reaction if his job ever goes away.

    The subject of wives' ingratitude to husbands is covered well in
    "The Proper Care and Feedings of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. In my circle of husbands, attitudes like yours are very common among wives...many of whom act like their husbands lack feelings and can be abused without limit.

    I submit that being a good loving husband may be the most thankless job in America today.

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    1. I do consider the burden that Steve carries. I do. Because of this I do try my best to keep our home life as comfortable and pleasant as possible. And I try to keep our marriage as healthy as possible so that he doesn't have any extra stress caused by me.

      I totally get his fears about his job failing, whether it is medical, flight checks, furlough, ect. I know that since he is the main breadwinner a lot more stress is placed on his shoulders. No doubt. I am sure that stress is for any breadwinner of a household.

      But I do want to establish that I don't abuse Steve. We have gotten pretty good at having feelings come to the forefront and then addressing them as best and quickly as possible. I care for Steve deeply, and I cherish our marriage...I cherish him as a person.

      I will check out that book...that seems interesting.

      As a side, I really like your comment. I like your perspective and the points you bring up.

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    2. 'Old Husband', do you mind me asking if you are a pilot yourself? And is your circle of husbands consist of pilots? Just curious.

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    3. I submit that being a wife may be the most thankless job and that everything I've read on this blog shows that you are an appreciative, encouraging supportive wife, Joanna

      I've read that book, there were a few things I thought were helpful but overall, she seemed to think that we go to lunch everyday or sit at home eating bon bons while the 'menfold' dig ditches with no break all day. If you read it, let me know what you think :)

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    4. I did read the book...I found it very old school and traditional, and I liked that! I think it was a good reminder of how traditional roles and values can really make a marriage run smoothly.

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  7. No, I'm not a commercial pilot, and don't even know any airline pilots. I like aviation, though. I'm a private pilot and once owned an airplane. My circle of male friends is mostly in the engineering field, where I work. I spent about a decade traveling on the airlines for work, with perhaps 4-5 nights away from home each month on average during that time.

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    1. I am actually finding that pilots and engineers have a lot of commonalities! Steve's best friend is actually an engineer, and aerospace engineer at that. I don't believe he kept up with his private pilots license, but he stayed with it for a good while. It is funny when they get together and get all geeky...it is cute...and I leave the room :)

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  8. Another awesome post for a soon-to-be pilot wife like me. I love your blog! Thank you again for your openness and honesty.

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    1. Thanks for the love! When is the wedding? Congrats! Totally unsolicited advice, but I so wish our first dance song at our wedding was "come fly with me" by Frank Sinatra. I did not think of it until years later, but it is a perfect song for a pilot marriage!

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    2. It's in April next year :) I've thought about that song too! We also really like "Home" by Michael Buble. So many things to make decisions about. Kinda overwhelming! And of course, any advice is always welcome - thanks for the idea

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    3. "Home" nearly makes me cry every time I hear it. It really does hit a sweet spot for people in this lifestyle. We danced to "Make someone happy" by Jimmy Durante. Why? Because it is like 1 minute 39 seconds long! :) There are a lot of decisions...and our final one was length of time. LOL

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  9. I just stumbled onto your blog. I can completely relate to nearly everything you have written. :)

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    1. Glad you found me! Yes, us pilot wives all live the same life, I have found.

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  10. Actually, they ARE a burden when you are doing 100% of the childcare. While, of course we love them and all of that, when someone is having to do all of the childcare/household chores/errands without breaks, without being able to take any downtime, it truly is difficult. That is something our husbands can not understand because they don't experience it. When they are home, they have us so they are still not doing it 100%. I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

    My husband does get a lot of downtime on his job,he gets whole days to himself, he travels to exotic destinations and has adventures. I became extremely resentful. We ended up divorcing (not just because of that) We are back together now but those times when he had the children for a few days all by himself really were an eye opener for him even though it still doesn't compare! And while the lifestyle is still similar, he is much more appreciative of what I do and the sacrifices I make and that makes a difference. SO glad I found your blog. I felt like I was the only one who experienced these things!

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    1. Oh no, you surely aren't the only one experiencing these things.

      I am glad you found my blog!

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