Monday, December 3, 2012

Me, as a mother

When Steve's November schedule came out, his first look wasn't to see if he had Thanksgiving Day off. Rather, his first look was to see if he was off for the OSU v. Michigan. "Joanna, I haven't had this day off in five or six years!" he told me with excitement, as he looked at that glorious * on November 24th.

We made plans to go to my sister's house for the game. We would let the kids play while we indulged in the game. Sure enough, our plan come to fruition. During the game the kids were playing in the basement, which is a great hangout for the kids. Meanwhile, we were indulging...good game, good conversation, good booze, good eats. Life was good.

*****

RING, RING. 

The call was ignored, since the caller ID was an unknown number.  Not to mention, the Buckeyes just won so we had other things on our minds.

A second later: RING, RING. That call was not ignored.  Two consecutive calls must mean something.  I have to admit, I was lost in a bit of a food and beer haze, so I don't know recall the exact timeline.  Before I know it, a police officer was stading at the front door saying  "someone here called 9-1-1." 

Well...since all the adults were in the mix of the game...that leaves one group of culprits left.  THE KIDS!  For the record, there was no real emergency. 

The kids all stood attentive in front of the officer as he explained that it is very important to never call 9-1-1 unless it is a real emergency.  He went on to educate the kids...and I hope he scared them a bit too.

After the officer left, I made all the kids, which included a couple neighbor kids, go over to the foyer, get their story straight, and come back to us with one person reporting what happened.  Thanks to my mother-in-law for that wisdom from her teaching days!  

The report was in: one of the neighbor kids had red marker on his hand, which looked like blood, and Ben called 9-1-1.  We still don't know the exact story, but we have the gist. 

And here is where this blog post incorporates me being a pilot wife:  there is no questions that being a pilot wife has molded me into being the mother that I am.  When the officer was talking to the kids, this huge amount of disappointment fell heavy on my shoulders. I know Ben is not perfect, but I do everything I can as a mother to help guide his path of making good decisions.  Not only did Ben make a bad decision, this decision was made because someone else influenced him, which is what bothers me the most.   I often repeat the saying "little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems." A bit dramatic, admittedly, but all I could think of was "calling 9-1-1 at age five" translates into "someone persuades him into doing drugs at age 15."  This whole situation did not sit well with me.  Even though Steve was around during the situation, I couldn't help but put that single-parent-hat on.  I think I am just so used to wearing the hat, it is hard for me to take it off.  I would imagine that a lot of pilot wives do the same. 

I have made it known that I follow the Love and Logic approach to parenting.  This approach helps you guide your children into making good decision making.  As their good decision making is reaffirmed, it gives the child confidence to continue to make good decisions.  This further leads into confident and independence.  I think this is a good approach for me to follow for a couple reasons.  Of course, I want my children to have a good moral compass and to follow the right path - what parent doesn't want that?  I also want them to be confident and independent.

 I also want them to have confidence, because only good things can come from that.  I don't know how or why, but for as long as I can remember I have never had confidence issues.  I believe the same holds for Steve.  I want the same for our children.

As much as I am already dreading being an empty-nester, I have a strong desire for my children to be as independent as possible.  I want them to go to Poland every summer, as children, to stay at my father's house for a couple weeks.  We call this Camp Czarna.  I want them to join Peace Corps.  I want them to move out of the house after college, and not live in my basement when they are 30-years-old.

And here is the other side of this approach that I like, and this is most definitely the pilot wife in me talking, I like this independence thing because it makes my life easier!   Again with this single-parent-hat, if the kids are on the straight and narrow, my life without Steve home is easy.

I will mention a couple examples to make my point:
1. Monday is trash day.  When the kids and I pull into the garage and park the car, the kids know it is their job to bring the trash and recycling bins up from the curb.  Remember, Ben is 5 and CC is 3.  Some may think this is too young, but they are absolutely capable, so they should do it.  By giving them this responsibility at this age, I hope they learn that it is important to pull your weight around the house with chores.  Also, it is one less thing I have to do, and I am happy to lighten my load any way I can.

2. Ben feeds the dogs every night.  Not only is he doing chores and pulling his weight, he is also learning how to care for animals.  In return, he has a good bond with the dogs, especially Cali who sleeps in his room every night.


Now, for the example showing the exact opposite:

3. I picked Ben up from school one day this week, and the teacher told me he was complaining of his stomach hurting.  Fast forward a couple hours, and Ben was yacking.  As I was tending to a sick Ben, CC was the opposite of helpful.  She was whiny and not following directions.  After asking her to brush her teeth for the 5th time, apparently running from bedroom to bedroom was way more fun, I actually yelled "CC, BRUSH YOUR TEETH NOW!" so loudly that she stopped dead in her tracks, looked right at me, and started to bawl.  My throat hurt a bit after yelling so loudly.

We got through the bedtime routine, and as I was tucking her under the covers I said "CC, when Daddy isn't home, you really need to be cooperative on nights like today.  Ben really needed my attention, and I had to focus on him.  I need you to really help me out."  CC is still so young, and I am still working with her, but the evening would have been so much easier if she was more cooperative.  I need my kids to mind me.  Steve isn't always around, so I need the kids to always be on my side.   

A lot of the time it is just the three of us: me, Ben and CC.  We are a trio.  When Steve isn't around, it is just me raising the kids.  I have to be the good parent and the bad parent.  I have to always be strong for them.  I have to use my judgement, alone.  I have to be a mother and a father.  It is a big duty.

*****

I always thought I was going to have three or four kids.  After having two, and having a traveling husband, my life feels complete.  Who would have thought that being a part of this aviation lifestyle would have dictated how many children we had?

As a mother, I never thought I would have become as controlling as I have become.  But, I tell you what, if I wasn't in control and CA of our home ship, then the house would be chaotic and a mess.  I need to be in control, so that our life is in control.

I can surprise myself at the amount of energy I can find within.  There are times when I just go and go and go and go...because I have to.  There are no other options.

Sometimes I feel suffocated because of the attachment the kids have to me.  Even when Steve is home, the kids can be overwhelmingly "Mommy...Mommy...Mommy" and all I want to do is yell "ASK YOU FATHER" because I don't think that I can handle another second of it.  When the kids are literally hanging on me and Steve is chilling out on the lazy boy because he is brain dead from a flight, I want to scream.  Yes, I want a close bond with my children, but sometimes it is overwhelming and I just want to float away from it all.

I never thought that I would be capable of so much.  Work outside the home, raise two kids, do house repairs, schedule our lives...you get the picture.  

I never imagined my life this way...not having a husband home every night.  I didn't grow up this way.  Both my parents were home every night.  Sometimes I hate it, and other times it doesn't phase me in the least.  I never thought that my children would grow up with a traveling father who wasn't home ever night....until I met Steve.  

Life changes.  Not everything that you have always thought of, hoped for, dreamed of, is what happens in reality.  God has a plan for all of us.  It may not be what we planned for ourselves, but his plan is always EXTRA-ordinary.  I like to think of myself as an extraordinary mother.  I think all pilot wives are.  Day in, day out...week in, week out...year in, year out we are the constant parent in our child's life.  This is an extraordinary fete, and one for which we should be most proud. 











5 comments:

  1. I also thought I was going to have at least 3 or 4 kids. I now know that 2 is my limit when I work full time and my husband is traveling all the time. The hardest thing for me is when I can't do it all. It is almost impossible at times to take the kids to all of their activities, be there for homework and work full time. You seem like you have a lot more energy than me. I always think that although their life with a traveling dad is different than mine was, they don't know any different. At the end of the day if they are happy and feel safe then I am doing a good job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yup, 2 in our limit as well...theory and reality vary greatly in this case. There are plenty of days that I don't have the energy to do it all. The important thing is that you maintain yourself with your interests so that you can find the energy and drive to keep going. Yes, the kids know no different. "Reality is the world in which you are born" I always think of that.

      Delete
  2. Hi Joanna,

    Is Steve's schedule month to month?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. He puts in his bid around the 10th, or something like that, and his schedule spits out around the 20th, or something like that.

      For example, he has already bid for January, and will receive his schedule around the 20th.

      As for vacation, his 2013 vacation was bid for in October. So, in October we had to sit down and plan all our vacations for 2013. There are several rounds to vacation bids, so you have to roll with the punches and make the best of what seniority gives you.

      ** I should mention, that I am sure that all airlines have different ways of doing this. This is how Steve's schedule is.

      Delete
  3. From the "traveling husband" point of view...I hate it that my sweet wife is home struggling through the trials of daily life without my help. I often feel isolated and helpless when she calls. I want to help, but there is so little I can do from so far away.

    I have a unique point of view on single parenting in that I've seen it from both sides. My wife travels for her work during October/November every year. She is usually gone five days a week during that time and I end up using all my vacation trying to be home to provide a "normal" home life for the kids. We have both commented that we are better parents when we parent together. I prefer tag teaming the kids! Hats off to anyone regularly doing it on their own.

    We all struggle to be the best parents possible, but it sounds to me like you are doing a wonderful job:)

    ReplyDelete