Me: Oh shoot, can you do it? Because if Steve wasn't home, I would have HAD to be the one to get up and do it. I figured that since he was home, he could have helped a gal out.
Steve: No. You do it.
Me: I will offer you sex if you do it.
Me: Really, I will be all set and ready when you get back.
Steve. No. You do it.
And this is where I start to get pissy.
Me: Please, I am really tired. Plus, I bought the gift.
Steve: Well, I bought the other gift.
Me: I went grocery shopping today.
Steve: And I clean up the dog poop in the yard.
And this is where I start to get really pissy.
Me: Please. I really don't want to get out of bed. Thinking the whole time that I always fucking do everything for the kids, and he can't do this little thing for me...
Steve: I really don't want to get out of bed either.
This is when I threw off the covers in a huff, and walked downstairs to the garage. I was pissed...like, pissed enough that I thought slugging him in the face may have been appropriate before I left the bedroom. I got the gifts out of the car, and headed back inside. By this time, Steve was in the basement digging through the wrapping paper.
We met at the kitchen table, two gifts were wrapped in silence, and we went to bed without saying a word.
Of course as this situation played out, I was thinking of how great this would be a lead-in for this blog....
I have said over and over again that raising children has been the hardest part of being married to a pilot. Here I thought that being a pilot girlfriend was tough with him being gone so much. Nope. And then I thought that being a pilot wife was tough with him being gone so much. Nope.
And then we had kids...and that is where the hardest part of being married to a pilot come to light.
Why? Because it seems like it is
I feel the need to add the disclaimer that I love my children dearly. They were planned and wanted and I am blessed. They are loved and cared for and safe and happy and healthy. I love being a mother, and I can't think of my life any different. I do my job as a mother without hesitation and I like to think that I am doing a pretty good job. Don't take what I am about to say as whining, because it really isn't...it is simply an accurate description of my life as a pilot wife and mother...
Let's start with the fact about our arrangement: when Steve is gone the parenting is totally up to me.
I am the one from morning to night, and sometimes during the night, to care for these little ones. I HAVE to do it, period. If I don't do it, then they are neglected. That word is not in my vocabulary when it comes to the kids.
Let's dissect this into different aspect of our life:
** Mommy is sick and Daddy is away. This, as a matter of fact, happened just this morning. My head was hurting like crazy, and Steve was not going to be home until the next day. In typical fashion, I don't like to take pills, even Advil. Hell, even post-partum I didn't take any pain killers. I usually think mind-over-matter. But, not this morning! I eyed Steve's leftover 800mg pills that he got from his shoulder injury (stupid heavy-ass flight bag!), but then thought I should be fine with a couple 200mg pills, so I took 400mg total. About an hour later, the headache was still there, so I took another 400 mg. The headache finally went away. But you know what? Even if it didn't I would have still had to march on. Ben needed his glasses adjusted, and we had plans to go to the library. Just because I had a headache, didn't mean the kids needed to suffer too.
Us pilot wives that are raising children power through physical pain in order to care for the kids. These are the times that you sometimes surprise yourself at how you can power through something. Is it easy to care for the kids when you feel like shit? No, not at all, but there is no other choice, so you have to do what you have to do.
** The kids just started school.
To continue this topic, let's talk school work. Who will be home for most homework assignments? Me. Who will be the on to help study for tests? Me. Sure Steve can check-in every night, but it isn't the same. I am the one to get the kids ready in the morning, and the ones to bring them home. I am on the one to balance evenings with school and activities and dinner and bath and bed. See what I am getting at? Don't take this as complaining, but rather I am simply laying out a typical week cycle. See how this pilotwife/mom thing is kinda difficult.
Steve has already missed school events, like performances and whatnot. I am sure he will miss more. These are the times when it is hard...sitting at a performance without Daddy around. All the while people around you are thinking to themselves "her husband is constantly gone...seems like they must be having problems." Wish I could wear a sign on my forehead that read "Happily Married. Husband is an airline pilot."
** My attachment to the kids. This one goes half and half...half is awesome, and the other half grates on you. There is no question that the kids and I are bonded tightly. Why? Because I am the constant in their life. Every day when they wake up, I am here. Every night, with few exceptions, I am there when they go to bed. We are tightly wound together. Do I love this? Yes! I love that we have little inside jokes and moments. We are a trio, and work well as our trio. We go and do all these things ourselves, and live this life with just the three of us. We have these little jokes between us, and we know each other in and out.
Do I sometimes absolutely hate being so attached to the kids? Oh, you bet! The third and final cry of "Mommy!" sometimes gets me so good that I bark back a "ask your father...he is standing right here!"
Or how about these scenarios, where I pick one kid up and the other screams to be picked up too?!
|CC, pissed off since I wasn't holding her. |
So, what does a Mom do to make sure the picture turns out?
|...hold both kids|
|at Niagara Falls, here again I picked up one kid and the other threw a fit|
(like how the guy in the back is checking out our situation...busted!)
I do love being so attached to the kids, but sometimes it is difficult on me.
** Recommendations feel like insults, and insults hit you like a ton of bricks. I am not sure if this is my personality, or rather a function of being a pilot wife, but I am adding this. Just the other day Steve got a sense that Ben's reading ability dropped during the summer. He came into the kitchen and stated, boldly, "You need to work with Ben and his reading" Bam! Like how he directed that I was the one to work on the reading. The
** The lonely can be so thick it actually hurts your heart. (A Pilot Wife Kind of Lonely) At this point with the kids, now 4 and 6, my lonely isn't as thick now since they keep me so busy. There are plenty of times where I crave the alone time since I need that peace and quiet.
But, I totally remember those alone times when the kids were young. 3am with a crying newborn is awfully lonely when you know your husband is comfortably sleeping in a hotel room. 2pm on a Sunday afternoon is awfully lonely when your pilot isn't home, and your 4-month old baby seems more like a chore than a joy...Sunday's are for family and togetherness, not separation and a quiet afternoon.
** And just the day-to-day activities can take its toll on you. You get up and go through all the morning routine: dress, eat, off to school. Then you are off to work, which brings its own personal challenges at times. And then it is home: homework, dinner, clean up. You mix in chores: sweeping, cleaning, laundry. Don't forget to add activities: PSR, gymnastics, swimming. Finally it is bedtime: bath, pjs, books, goodnights (which take at least 10-15 minutes since the kids are still young). Around 8-8:30pm, you finally sit down, only to have to go back upstairs 5 times because there are monsters in the closet, and a bug flying around the room. Finally, around 9p, the house is quiet, and glass of wine is poured
...all to be done again for the next 3 days....with no break from your husband.
So those where touches, here and there, of how this pilotwife/mom thing is hard when the pilot is gone. Now, let's switch gears to when your dear pilot walks in through that door after a long-ass 4-day trip. You are so glad to see him, as are the kids. Now it is time for him to reengage with the family as a husband and father...
...and sometimes that transition isn't so easy.
Take the other night for example, when he just got off a 3-day trip. He flew a trans-con, had a three hour sit, and then another flight blocked at 2 hours. When he got home I knew he would be exhausted. I had put the kids down about 30 minutes before he got home, and low and behold they were still awake when he walked up the stairs.
I tried my best to keep out of their way because these are the moments where the kids want to connect with Steve. But after about five minutes, I could quickly tell that Steve wasn't staying in the "green zone." I made the point to step in...I knew Steve was tired and I knew he needed to unwind, not manage the kids, who should have been sleeping anyway. His transition home wasn't so easy...
...and then the next morning, Steve dropped CC of at PreK. Joanna, what do I have to bring with her? Joanna, does she have her bag? Joanna, what time does she need to be there? Joanna, does she have homework? See what I am getting at? I run the house during the school week, mostly. And Steve comes in and has to learn this all, especially now that the school year has started and the kids and I are still figuring this all out.
Does Steve skip a beat in our life? You betcha. This has to be hard on him, no question. But, it is also hard on me. When he comes in and out of our daily life, I have to transition. Take a red-eye for example: I love seeing him when he gets home in the morning because I like seeing him before I leave for work. But, I sure do hate that he interrupts our morning routine. The kids and I have an order and process to get ready and in the mornings. And as much as I love my husband, sometimes his presence (especially when he is off his normal routine) just fucks everything up.
Now, let me discuss the whole control thing. As I established, it is you raising the kids 100% when your pilot is gone...and now he is home. One would think that it is time for you to give up that 100% and share it 50/50. Nope, not so easy.
I never realized how controlling I was until I had kids...or, is it that having kids without a husband around made me so controlling? Either way, I am controlling. I think that I am so controlling, because I feel like I have to. If I wasn't in control, our house would be nuts. I can't have that. I need order, and with order comes a house that I am able to manage when Steve is away.
...but then Steve walks through that garage door and what? Me give up control? Not so easy. I run this house when Steve is gone, and it has become second nature to be the main caregiver for the kids. When Steve chimes in what a suggestion this or a suggestion that, I sometimes have a very hard time to hear him out. I run this house...don't get in my way. I do like to think that I do listen to Steve and hear him out, but it takes effort.
Having said all the above, I want to close with the point that although raising children when your pilot is gone is tough, it is also incredibly rewarding....and these rewarding moments are our momentum. I know that I am vital to my children and their behavior. When I get compliments on their behavior (Pilot wives making things user friendly) I glow and take it as a direct compliment on my hard work. I also love the bond that the three of us have, and the little moments that we share. I wouldn't have it any other way. Just as Peace Corps has the tag line of "the toughest job you will ever love" I feel being a pilotwife/mother is the same - the toughest job you will ever love.