Stress of a pilot wife


Stress is just horrible for your body.  I know that.  I read books that make this point, and it actually scares me.  I try to keep stress out of my life.  I eat well.  I practice yoga. I get massages, although those usually happen when stress settles into an exact point on my back.  I get regular chiropractic care. I get my girl time. I get my me time. My husband satisfies me, if you know what I mean.  Blogging even helps relieve some stress, when necessary.  I have thought about getting into meditation lately.  However, I think stress may always follow a pilot wife.  Nature of the beast, I suppose.  

Despite my best efforts, I am still stressed.  Today was a perfect example of the stress I feel as a pilot wife.  As is typical for a Wednesday, Steve was on a trip and I was working my usual hours.  What wasn't typical for my typical day was double my work.  I won't go into details about my job, but just know I had about double my work...that needed to be done in my short 5 1/2 hour work day.  I was so focused today with my tasks, that my knees actually hurt by the end of the day. Meaning, I barely got up from my desk.

It was about 2pm, and I knew I had at least an hour+ of work left.  Problem is that I leave at 3p.  STRESS!  I have to be home in time to get Ben off the bus. 

I leave every day from work at 3pm.  I pick Cici up from daycare at 3:30p, so that we are home by 3:55p.  I am crazy punctual, so I make sure I get home at this time because Ben gets off the bus anywhere from 4:15-4:25.

All the while I am working, I am thinking to myself that I wasn't going to finish my work by 3pm.  I needed to alter our routine this afternoon. I was working fast so that I could keep our routine...humans are creatures of habit, after all.  But, every 10 minutes I would look up from my task, notice I still had x pages of work to go through, and then realize keeping our routine probably wasn't going to happen.

Steve called me at 2:56p, hmm...he didn't sleep that much after his red-eye, and I picked up the phone basically saying "hey I am crazy busy.  I will call you back in a bit."

I finished up my work, which took another 30 minutes.  I left work 30 minutes late.  I went directly home, got Ben off the bus, and then he and I went to pick Cici up from school.  Cici is very much "go with the flow" so she wasn't bothered at the least with this change in routine.

The stress I was feeling was because it was ME that needed to be home for Ben.  I can't call Steve and say "honey, I am running late. Can you be home for the kids?"  Nope...all me.  When I have my work obligations that extend past my work day, I get stressed.  The above is a perfect example of stress for the working pilot wife.

Oh, while we are talking about Cici and school, let me talk about another stress point in my life lately.  My car.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I have been chirping lately about my displeasure with my car.  The car is a 2010. It has about 78K miles on it.  It is in the shop too much.  And a repair isn't just one visit, but three visits.  So, it is like triple the service appointments.

Buick service records for the last two years (on left)
BMW service records for the last two years (on right)

The latest issue happened last week.  Instead of leaving work at 3p, I left at 3:15p. I have learned this is the exact latest time I can leave work, and still get home in time for Ben to get off the bus.  I knew I had to be quick, quick, quick, in order to get home in time for Ben.  I picked up Cici from school, and when we got into the car I went to start the car...problems. It wouldn't start.

Instant STRESS!

I immediately called my neighbor, and as we were arranging for her to get Ben off the bus, the car started.  Thank the good Lord!

On our ride home, I called Steve.  I don't recall where he was, but he was in for the day.  I told him what issue I had.  I told him that our car shopping needed to go from the back burner to the front burner,  I had been test driving cars for the last two months, or so.  He didn't say a word.

I know he knew what needed to be done, but the "cheap pilot" in him was fighting it a bit.  This is when I just stay quiet and let his mind think.  There are a lot of hours to think up in a cockpit, and knowing that I have a car that has grown unreliable would be very much on his mind.

Fast forward a couple days when he was home.  I was preparing Ben's typical egg burrito for breakfast as Steve was trying to talk car with me.  Really? I am getting the kids off to school and you want to talk cars? I forget the exact details, but I was actually getting upset.  I was about to cry over the eggs.  I told him I needed to stop the conversation because I wasn't about to get upset over a fucking car.

There are real problems in life.  We just put our beloved dog down.

My boss was affected by a tragic event at his son's school. Lives were taken too early.  A dear co-worker lost her pregnancy at 12 week. These are real problems...these are the things to cry over.  I was not going to get upset over a car. A fucking car.

Steve thought about things.  I thought about things.  We talked.  We ultimately decided on a Toyota.  Steve drives a BMW.  It is his third.  Mark my words, he will always drive a BMW because he just loves the brand that much.  I did test drive the X5, but it was just too small for me.  I am 6'1. Steve is 6'1.  My 7 year old son is already 54" tall.  We are tall people, and I need a car that will accommodate our tall asses.  So, I went with the two brands that you rarely hear complaints about, Honda and Toyota.  We drove the Odyssey and Pilot, which were both great.  We drove the Highlander and the Sienna, which were both great.  But, the Highlander actually got me excited.  So, we went with that.

I am thankful that Steve was willing to put aside any "cheap pilot" stereotype and make me stress free.  It is quite possible that he had a bit of stress from the car, traveling husband wants to get the call from his wife that her car won't start.

You know, there are days where, at the end of the day, I am all "I totally have this pilot wife thing down.  I am superstar.  I am doing great.  The house is perfect, the kids are happy, and my pilot is coming home to a hot meal.

And then there are days where I am drowning, where laundry is piled up and Steve comes home to me saying "are you hungry? I can make you a sandwich."  Moments later I will pass out on the couch from the sheer exhaustion of being a single parent for the previous three days.  These are the days where life just get too busy, and it takes a lot of effort to deal.  These are the stressful days.

I wear a night guard when I sleep.

Sexy, I know.  I wear it because I grind my teeth at night, which is wearing away my enamel.  Why do I grind? Stress.

 I have PVCs (premature ventricular contractions).  My heart will prematurely fire, stop to reset itself, and then send out a hard kickstart beat to get the rhythm set right.  Why do I think I have them? Stress.  

I have physical effects from the stress in my life.  One of the "perks" of being married to a pilot, I suppose.

Steve and I celebrate our wedding anniversary this month (12 years).  I have been a mother for nearly eight years.  You would think that I would have this pilot wife/mother thing down by now.  Nope.  Still working on it.  I am pretty good at it, if I may say so.  But, there are moments where it gets the better of me.


  1. I feel your pain. We are in the process of buying a new house and the pilot has been gone most days. The brunt of all of it has fallen on me. Called him a lucky bastard as he sat in Nashville today while I ran to the bank and got the whirlwind of the house cleaned for a showing. Don't feel bad, I wear a night guard too.

  2. As a pilot wife of almost a year, your blog is very comforting and makes me feel like I am not alone. Thank you for doing what you do.

  3. Hi Joanna! I came across your blog today and had to say "hi". I love finding other pilot wife bloggers, and I totally relate to this post. Some days we're on top of everything, and others not so much. At all. That's where wine usually comes in handy.

    If you need a reminder for why you're awesome, I wrote this post recently:

    Come visit sometime! Love your blog and can't wait to see more. :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by...on my way to your blog...

  4. I just married a pilot 3 months ago, and was in a bit of a downward spiral tonight with the loneliness and frustration of being alone and having to do everything alone so often. I'm glad I found your blog, thank you. It makes me feel less like I'm the one not handling it well to realize others have similar experiences. My husband is at a regional, and on reserve in a different state. I don't know how long I can take it. I work a much harder job as a surgeon, with on-call hours in addition to my operating room and clinic time and feel like it is so unfair that I work more, earn more, and support us both while he goes drinking and has fun with his crash pad mates. I didn't realize it would be so isolating and feel so unbalanced to be a pilot's wife.

    1. Oh and I totally grind my teeth too. Dentist just told me I need a night guard :)

  5. We want to start a family but I honestly think I will go berserk if I have to raise a family and work FT on my own too.

  6. I'm a pilot wife who works full time with 3 children too. My husband works at your husband's carrier and is in the same crew base, though he commutes to his line. My sister in law is a pilot wife (her husband is at the Atlanta based major carrier), and my mother in law is a pilot wife (my father in law is at the same carrier). I've read through your three most recent blog posts, and respectfully, go see a therapist. Aside from airing all your dirty laundry on Main Street, which frankly isn't a good look for you, and embarrassing your husband and his employer, you're making yourself unwell mentally. The experience you're having is not remotely the experiences I'm having or anyone I know is having.

    Get help.

  7. Found your blog doing research on being married to a pilot for a book I am writing. I too have TMJ because I grind my teeth at night and have PVCs. Try giving up caffeine to stop the pvcs. You don't want to get AFIB. Also my dentist suggested wearing the bite guard in high stress moments like driving in traffic. Hope that helps.


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