Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Under appreciated

Steve had a short 3-day trip last week that ended in a red-eye Thursday morning.

He got in quite early that morning, and was actually out of uniform and in our bed by 7:30am. He is usually just pulling into the driveway around that time after a red-eye.
Steve had just crawled into bed, and Ben was so excited to
show him the new book he was reading about insects

By the time we left at 8:30am, Steve was sawing logs.  I had the thought that he would get some good sleep and the day wouldn't be typical post-red-eye shit.  You know, grumpy, grouchy, cranky...

Boy was I wrong.

4pm: Cici and I got home from school.  Honest to goodness I was just three steps into the mudroom when Steve sternly says "I just have to get this off my chest...the clutter in the mudroom drives me nuts. Please don't let it get this way again."  Or something to that effect.  No kiss.  No "how was your day?" No "it is nice to see you"  Hell, I  didn't even get a "hi"...he went straight to the barking.

BOOM!  I was just three steps into the house, for crying out loud, and he lays into me. This, pilots of the world, is not how you treat your wife after being gone on a trip.  We want to be loved on when you get home, not critiqued about what we haven't done.

I immediately shook off my feelings.  Cici was having a friend come over in a short 30 minutes for a play-date, so I had to get dinner started and make sure the house was presentable.  Lucky for me Steve had cleaned the house.  I prepared dinner, and then Cici's play date showed up.  After a 2 hour play-date Cici's friend left and it was time to address the comment that hurt me so much.

Steve was at a flag football game with Ben so I sent him a text:
Listen...watch your words with me.  I wasn't even 3 steps in the house when you just *had* to get that off your chest.  Guess what...I am busy. I work. I care for the kids. I am planning stuff for tomorrow. I run errands. I go to meetings. I take the kids to activities...I am teaching PSR...all without you.  Steve, I can't do it all. Instead of barking at me...help out because you want to lighten by load. Put yourself in my shoes.

He responded with:
I was getting it off my chest so I wouldn't snap at you...I simply told you and felt better...you could have totally not listened to me and that would have been ok...I just had to say it out loud...I cleaned the house to help, but clutter drives me crazy.

My response:
Imagine how you would feel if I barked at you when you were 3 steps into the house

His response:
I didn't mean for it to be a bark...I just didn't want to keep it welled up inside...if you notice, I was fine after I said it...sometime you just gotta get it off your chest

And my final response was:
You get it off your chest and it crushes me...

His final response:
I didn't mean for it to crush you...I meant to prevent me blowing up at you...I guess that backfired.



So, there you have our text dialogue about the event.  Shortly after our texting Steve and Ben got home, we had dinner, the kids went to bed, and Steve and I finished up preparations for an aviation event on Friday.

The next morning Steve knew I was still upset.  He gave me the candid "don't start off my days off like this."

I responded with the fact that this was his doing, and to not make this my fault.  It was his words that stung me.

Women are not light switches...we can not just simply switch our emotion from upset to hunky-dory in a second.

You want to know why his words hurt me so much?  I feel under appreciated.  And since this one comment rocked me so good, I must have been feeling under appreciated for a long time now.

These last couple weeks have been so incredibly overwhelming for me.  School has started, and the first couple weeks went smoothly.  But, in the last couple weeks all of the after school activities have started, so this is very much a transitional period for us and I am still trying to get settled.  Every day of the week is taken up by activities.  I have had meetings upon meetings in the evenings.  I am even teaching PSR (parish school of religion) at our church.  Not to mention, Steve and I have been planning an aviation alumni event that happened this past Friday.  So, the last two weeks was really full with those plans.

The last thing I was concerned about was the fucking clutter on the counter in the mudroom.  The clothes were cleaned, the house was straightened up as best as I could, there was food in the fridge and pantry, and the kids were clean and happy....I got the basics covered, because that is all I could do with my schedule.

I do not need to be praised for all that I do, and Lord knows I have a lot on my plate when Steve is gone.  But, I need to feel appreciated.  When I get barked at for the counter top clutter, yet no praise, I can't help but feel under appreciated.

*****

Do y'all remember my 35th birthday disaster last year? (Let Him In)  To recap, Steve got me flowers and we went to dinner to celebrate my birthday.  But, that was it.  No gift.  Nothing.  This comes after previous birthday disasters where Steve went away on my birthday for a guys weekend, or when an entire birthday morning passed before Steve said Happy Birthday to me...and that was only after he found me crying in my bathroom because I was the one to remind the kids it was my birthday.  No gift on my 35th was just icing on the cake.

Yep, I spent the night of my last birthday crying my eyes out.

Steve sent me an email as I was upstairs in the bedroom crying, and here is a bit of it:
what I can tell you is that I think after fucking this up again, I might be getting a little clarity on what your birthday means to you ..... I know you ,and I know that you are not a materialistic person, so this is obviously not about a gift per se....but I think what you are looking for is some validation for all that you do.....lets face it, you keep the ship running.....the laundry is done, the house is clean, the kids are happy and I am happy.....but you don't really ever get a big THANK YOU for all that you do to keep the ship together...and for you, one place you expect to be shown the appreciation you deserve is on your birthday.....your are working overtime to make things work, but yet I have not expressed my gratitude to you for this....I have not shown you just how much I appreciate what you do on a daily basis for our family.....for that I am sorry, because you DO deserve to be pampered....and you deserve to be pampered on more days than just your birthday.....lately it's been all take and no give....I am sorry that this has happened.....

***

I hate myself for hurting you and letting you down again....really, you make me so very happy and I never express that to you.....I want to make you happy and I want you to feel appreciated.....You are a wonderful wife and an even better mother....the kids and I are so blessed to have you in our lives....you give and give......you are so selfless when it comes to us....you always put us before you.....I want to ease your load and make you happy....if you will let me, I would like to start to relieve some of your load.....I can cook dinner when I am home....I can take the kids to Polish class, Gymnastics, etc., I can take CC to school and pick her up, I can give the kids baths and put them down....I can do anything else you want me to .....I just want you to be happy.....

As you can see from his writing, he admits that he doesn't give me the appreciation for all I do.  He doesn't express it to me.  I have said over and over that my love language is physical touch, but I sure do need those words of affirmation as well.

*****

A pilot wife can only take so much of being under appreciated before she cracks.

Pilots...remember this!

I will say it again: pilots, remember this!  We keep the house running well when you are gone...we do the job of a mother and father when you are gone.  It is tough, even though we make it look easy.  It is a large load to carry, even though we do it with a smile week after week.  But, remember behind our ease and our smile is a lot of stress and work.  And the catch? You never see the stress and work because you are gone.  We keep that smile on when you are home to make the house happy for you. But, you have to remember that there is a ton of work and stress behind that smile.

Steve left for a 4-day trip on Monday.  I was still hurting from those stinging words when he left.    Yup, still after 3 days.  This is when the physical distance his job gives us is a good thing.  I need my space from him because I can't look at him without feeling upset.  There was a lot of distraction this past weekend, so at least our weekend was okay.  I hope when he gets home I will be better, but there is no telling.

Usually I like to tell Steve's side of the story in my blog to be fair, but I am having a hard time with this post.  His words really stung me, and I am hurting.  I know pilot wives can relate to me and my experience.  And, I hope that any pilots that read this will now understand how much we do when you are gone, and how much pressure we can be under, and how we need to be shown and told that we are appreciated.

8 comments:

  1. i think my pilot needs to start reading your blog! maybe he will realize i'm not the only one who thinks loving a pilot (while amazing as he is) ain't easy. i can't help that i'm overly sensitive, and that this way of life makes me just slightly crazy. ;)

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    1. no, loving a pilot is not easy! A lot of pilots read my blog...I am sure he could get a thing or two from it :)

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  2. Thanks for being so honest, I feel the same way( married 6 yrs to a pilot, 3 kids), we are always fighting because I say why can't I ever vent ? Or why do you always get to say something and I can't have any feelings or emotion about it? It's been really really rough for us recently. I feel your pain...thanks for keeping it real. M

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    1. Every marriage has rough patches, no question. And if someone says otherwise, they are lying. You have to find your way to release your feelings and vent...it will make you feel better.

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  3. Awww Joanna! Sorry for your hurt. I do love your honest take on marriage and especially being married to a pilot who is gone quite a bit. It's hard stuff. This makes me dread the day my husband gets hired at some legacy airline. It's tough having them gone for so many days/nights each month.... and you do it with two kids. You rock!

    Hang in there mama. Hopefully you two will get on the same page when it comes to some of these things. Sometimes getting on the same page is tough when you're in two different time zones most of the month, but you will get through it. :-)

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    1. Yeah, marriage to a pilot is hard stuff...no wonder there are so many pilot divorces!

      Still hanging in there...I think I am in a funk - hopefully the clouds will clear away soon :)

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  4. Hi Joanna--I came across your page about a month or so in trying to find how pilots' wives handle living the life as a pilot's wife as I am currently the girlfriend of a pilot in training and have had some anxiety at how I (we) am going to adjust to such a big change when he finishes school. I really appreciate all you share and enjoy reading. I am taking an online journaling class and our current assignment is to find blogs of interest to us to share with the class, and I immediately thought of your blogs. With that said, I hope you don't mind if I do share your page, and again wanted to express my appreciation for your stories and insight. It gives me a lot to look forward to :)

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    1. Share away! I would be happy to have you share my blog!

      You will go great as a pilot wife...it isn't easy, but the strength that you find within yourself will surprise you :)

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