Do you want to know what a pilot really wants for Christmas?
I will tell you...a pilot really wants to be HOME for Christmas! And you know what every pilot wife wants? For your husband to be home!
This year, Steve gets to be home! At the expensive of working every weekend and missing the children's Polish Christmas Pageant, again. Both he and I are thrilled he will be home.
You see, our son is six and our daughter is four.
The magic of Christmas is in full force right now, and as a parent it is amazing to see such wonder and amazement in your children's eyes and minds. This window of real Christmas magic is so small, that we are thankful that Steve is home to see the magic at its fullest.
Steve is senior enough that he is starting to get schedules that he is asking for, to a certain degree. But as for Christmas's of the past, boy have we had some doozies!
I think the best was last year...the year that I cried at church because I wished so very much that Steve was home. It was the Christmas where we saw Steve so little that the kids actually napped with Steve, while he slept to prep for an evening flight, just to be close to him. Yeah, that was the BEST Christmas ever! (Full blog is here: The Whole Pilot Fatigue Stuff) Here is an excerpt:
Let's map out Steve schedule over Christmas, which was a 3-day (which ended the morning of the 26th), piggybacked with another 3-day (that began on the evening of the 26th). Keep in mind that Steve had a red-eye on the 5th and again on the 21st. So, this month is just chock-full of these lovely fighting-body-clock legs.
I won't bitch much about Steve's lack of being home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I have said it before, and I will say it again, it is part of the game right now. We are making the most of it. Yes, I did cry at mass because I missed Steve. Yes, I wished that Steve was on our walks around the block to look at Christmas lights - the kids in the garden cart while my parent's German Shepherd "pulled" the "sled" like Rudolph.
Yes, I wish that Steve was around with my Father and Brother-in-law in the basement drinking and talking about the recent axe purchase my Dad snagged at a local flee market. But, that is not the point of this post...
Ok, so on the 24th, Steve's "go" time was 7:30a, which meant his "show" was 6:30a, which meant he left the house at 5:30a, which meant he got up at 4:30a. Read: really fucking early and thus the start of having an off body clock. I couldn't even tell you what his trip looked like. I was with my family for Christmas, so I basically just waited for him to call us since I didn't know when he was a-comin' or a-goin'. The worst thing I can do is call him when he is sleeping.
Steve got home the morning of the 26th...and Steve flew out again that night on a 9:15p flight to LAS. Yes, that right. A short 15 hours since he arrived at his domicile, he was out again. Sucks, doesn't it. You betcha'!
Enter how fucked up flight time affects a pilot, which in turn affects his wife and his kids.
Just to note: Steve actually had to wash his uniform at 7am, when he got home on the 26th. Since he was leaving that night for another 3-day, he actually had to do laundry! Not to mention, he actually drank a beer at 8am while he was waiting for his shirts to finish up in the wash. Don't worry, he met the 12 hours bottle-to-throttle. He basically said "fuck it, it is the holidays and this is going to be the best I can do today."
On the morning of the 26th, while Steve was drinking a beer and washing clothes and then resting, the kids and I made our way back to our home. We planned our arrival so that Steve could have plenty of rest in the morning. We left my parents around 10a, or so, with an ETA of 1p. We did stop at Taco Bell for lunch, the kids bean burrito meal is actually a pretty decent option for fast food, and a potty break at a rest stop. Of course with Taco Bell, you know a potty break is to follow. We made it home around 1:30p, or so.
We got home, pulled into the driveway and made our way into the house. Daddy greeted us with hugs and kisses and then we saw all of Santa's gifts around the tree. The kids opened the gifts, and Steve was a part of it. I am so glad that the kids and Steve were together, but I was quiet pretty much all afternoon. I was exhausted. CC was coughing throughout the night for the entirety of our trip, so that meant restless sleeping. Plus, being away from home is just exhausting. Not to mention, Steve was leaving in a few short hours for another 3-day. Steve was laying it on thick with lots and lovin' and hugs and kisses. As much as I appreciated it, I knew he was leaving again and I was almost numb to it. Why bother getting attached, when he was leaving so soon?
Around 4:30p Steve went upstairs to take a nap. Yet another 2 hours taken out of the short 6 hours we saw him that day. Ben and CC actually followed him upstairs to be with him. Steve was napping and the kids were watching tv in bed. It was sweet and pathetic at the time time...so sweet that the kids love their Daddy that much that they wanted to be close to him, and pathetic that the kids were spending so little time with Daddy that they needed to be next to him while he slept.
Steve left that night, the evening of the 26th, around 7:15p. The kids sat on the front step and yelled "BYE DADDY" while blowing kisses. I did call Steve later and tell him that I was sorry for being short and cold. He understood.
This Christmas won't be like last year...thank goodness. A pilot wife and mother can only handle so many of those in her life. Christmas is a time to be around the ones your love, especially your lover, not to be apart. But, it is what it is, and there is no sense in dwelling on the sad. We are thankful that Steve is flying, because the alternative is most definitely not desirable.
If your pilot isn't home this Christmas, it may happen next year, so have hope! The silver lining of his absence at Christmas is that when he IS home, it makes his presence that much more special. When he is home, you don't take his presence for granted...you savor it!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!