Leading up to this block of days off, I was thinking how great the timing was. That week was going to be busy with last minute shopping for gifts, and Christmas parties, both at school and personally, and just the regular busy of normal life. Not to mention, it is just nice to have your pilot husband home for a week straight. Aside from vacation, which is always used for just that, it is rare to have your husband home for that long of a time...at home every night, a welcome relief!
For the first couple days of his week off, we went to celebrate Christmas with Steve's family. I should mention that this treasure was discovered: he is going to hate me for posting this
After a couple days away, we settled in back home and all was good. And then it hit me...Monday afternoon. Steve was picking up the kids from school (so happy I was relieved of that duty for an entire week!) and I swear the second I walked into the house after work it hit me. Two little symptoms seem so unassuming: fever and aches. But, boy was I kicked down good and hard.
What did the next 48 hours mean for me? Parking my ass on a chair, sofa, or bed all the while sipping tea, dozing, and taking my temp.
What did the next 48 hours mean for Steve? He was getting a taste of his own medicine. What medicine, you ask? Well, he was playing MY role when he is gone on a trip. Sure, he also had to care for me at times, but I don't think I was too demanding of a patient. So, for argument sake, let's consider the playing field even.
Since I was truly sitting by the sidelines and just trying not to die, I will give you my impression on the situation. Steve did a wonderful job, overall, at handling the situation. The kids were clean, fed, at school on time, and happy. He also did a wonderful job, for the most part, of taking care of me. Including, the ever SO romantic gesture of cleaning our toilet on Monday evening. At that point in the situation, I wasn't sure if I would need to use it as I was still trying to process what my body was telling me...and thankfully, I never did! But, Steve had it ready for me. How sweet.
Isn't it funny how things changed! Hell, back in college, I was probably afraid to poo if we spent the weekend together. And I still remember how utterly embarrassed I was when I farted in front of him for the first time. That was 2 years into our relationship. And now? Cleaning the toilet for your love...you know, just in case she needs to destroy it. But, I digress...
For as much good as Steve did over the last couple of days, let me make some points where I could detect some weakness:
- Ben gets his homework on Monday, and he needs to turn it in by Friday. Well, one day a couple of weeks ago, Ben mentioned that Jane turned her homework in on Tuesday, and he wanted to be the first one to turn it in. So, I am harnessing this desire and will try my best to turn him into an overachiever, as best I can. So, Monday night, 10 minutes before bath time, I mustered all the strength I had, got my fevered ass out of bed, walked into the hallway, and yelled down to Steve that Ben needs to do this homework. You see, Steve didn't know that Ben has been doing homework on Monday. This is just one reminder of how Steve misses certain parts of our lives. It is the little things, like a change in the way he does homework, that Steve misses.
- Now, I may be stretching a bit on this one, but I thought I detected something here. When Steve is home, 99% of the time he is the one to lock the house up at night. And let me clarify what that means: letting the dogs out, giving them their pills, turning out all the lights, and locking the doors. I bet this is a good 5 minute routine. When Steve is home, and that 1% hits, I am there to lock up. I may not like it, but I get it. Ah, but this time around, I was good for nothing and he knew it. He was forced to lock up....just like I am when he is gone. It sucks when you are forced to do it, because there are no other options.
- Bath time. Ah, bath time. Again, with the whole being forced to do something...well, Steve was forced to get the kids prepared for bed all the nights I was sick. By Thursday, my fever was gone. My appetite was less than stellar the previous days which meant my diet consisted of tea, apples, bananas and some carbs sprinkled in here and there. So, even though my fever was gone, I was still rather weak.
On Thursday, I went into work for 4 hours, which turned into 6 hours. Then, I met the kids and Steve for dinner. And then I took the kids to the store to get pajamas. And then I took Ben to gymnastics. All the while we were at gymnastics I was thinking "I must get this, I gotta get that..." So, my plan was that after I dropped Ben off at home, I would head out, fill Steve's car with gas, and then head to the store to shop. Well, we walked into the house after gymnastics and Steve said "can you put Ben down? I just need some time."
I stayed. I put Ben down. I understand the need for the tag-team parenting thing. Ah, and here is a taste of his own medicine: I have every reason to believe that Steve was spent from the previous bath nights, so come this fine evening, where I was feeling somewhat back to normal, he couldn't wait for some help. Sound familiar pilot wives? Come that glorious evening of Day 4, when your pilot is home, you finally get some...relief! Sometimes you jump on that relief the second it walks in the door. We have all been there, and done that, no doubt!
And that Thursday evening just gets better, let me tell you.
By the time I pulled out of the driveway, it was about 8:30p or so. I pulled into a gas station, pulled up to a pump that was calling my name, got out, swiped my card, and got a "please see attendant" message. Fuck that! I tried again, and got the same message again. Of course, this was not MY problem, but rather the stupid gas station's problem. So, I marched right into the store. After brief discussions between me and the attendant, the problem was, in fact, with my card. I called Steve, because of course it was now HIS problem. After brief discussions with him, I finally called the 800 numbers on the back of the card. Apparently, the computer we purchased a couple days prior triggered a fraud alert. My card was blocked. The customer service verified a couple things, and then released the block. After a couple minutes, I was pumping gas...all so that Steve wouldn't have a red light on his way into work the next morning. What a great pilot wife I am.
After I got the gas, I ran across the street to the store for this and that. And this is when the day caught up with me. Let me set some things that you may not know about me. I am tall. Right around 6'1". My inseam is 36". I walk fast. When I am in a store, I am go-go-go. I had my list, and I was a go-go-going...until my gas ran out. If I was traveling at 65mph, I then slowed to about 5mph. I even had to stop a couple times and lean against the cart.
Sort of a soap box I am about to get on: when I was slowed up, I realized how slowly a lot of people actually DO move. It is actually really sad, if you ask me. On one hand, a grandfather, a veteran from the USS Enterprise (or so said his hat) was moving quicker than me, to give you an idea of how slowly I really was moving. Yet, a 55-year-old obese woman was moving slower than me. Sad.
If the store trip should have taken me 15 minutes, I was there a good 30. By the time I rolled into our driveway and parked in our garage, I was seconds away from passing out. I can in, saw Steve scrubbing the powder room toilet (good man!) and told him I have no strength for anything else and headed up to crash on our bed.
I could tell Steve was terse with me at that point. With my arrival, I am sure he expected me to be back up-to-par like I seemed all day, and not back to feeling like shit. When I told him I was crashing out, I knew he was upset. You see, he had a rather early show the next morning and I knew that he was looking to go to bed. I bet he was even looking for a bit of help from me when I got back. I went upstairs and immediately crawled onto our naked mattress.
You see, Steve washed our sheets earlier that day and come 10p they still weren't totally dry yet. So, as I lay on the naked mattress, shivering and achy, Steve was probably watching the clock waiting for the damn dryer to finish. And it did...about 10 minutes later. Steve came upstairs, and ordered me to help him. Now, ordered may be a bit strong, but I honestly can't think of another verb. There as no "Joanna, sorry you are feeling badly again. Can you please get up so I can make the bed?" It was more "I need your help in making this bed."
Actually, he didn't need my help. He is very capable. But, I was fully aware that by me helping it would cut the time in half to make the bed. So, in a selfish manner I helped out. About 2 minutes later, I finally crawled into a fresh bed, moaned with exhaustion, and was happy to finally be in bed for the day.
And then Steve started to put the pillow case on my glorious body pillow, which he gave me when I was pregnant with Ben:
That was the last instance of him having a taste of his own medicine. He was exhausted. He wanted to get to bed, but household duties calls...with no help. Folks, this is what a pilot wife deals with every week. Every week, we deal with household duties that are a must-do, and a lot of the times there is no relief in doing these duties. But, it has to get done, as we manage a way to do it.
I am not complaining about being a pilot wife. I understand my role in life as a wife and mother and friend. I am trying to make the overall point that when someone lives the life that a pilot wife lives, every week, they may very well come to the conclusion that it ain't easy. Even though I have not confirmed this, I wouldn't be surprised if a little light was shed on Steve about how home life is when he is gone...and how much more appreciation he has for me and all that I do.