There have been two times in my life where a delivered bouquet of flowers made me cry.
The first time was in the fall of 2001. I came home from Peace Corps in June, and was having a hard time finding a job. I moved in with Steve when I got home, so I didn't have to pay rent or utilities. But, I did have a new car to pay for. So, I took a job as a bridal consultant at a large, local bridal salon. I loved it. It was a wonderful job. Full of beauty and happiness, joy and love. Not to mention, it was like a workout every shift. Those gowns are heavy, and lugging them around all day, and lifting them over the brides heads, made my arms incredibly toned.
The one thing that wasn't so great about it was the pay. $7 an hour.
I had a degree from a private Jesuit University, and I was making $7 an hour. That fact wore on me after a couple months. I was growing more and more depressed and upset.
While at work one afternoon, the most beautiful bouquet of sunflowers was delivered to the bridal salon. A dozen sunflowers in a blue vase. I cried the second I found out they were for me. Steve knew they would brighten my day, and boy was he right. Something so simple lifted my spirits and gave me hope. I was able to find a job after looking for four months...and am still with the same company today.
The second time I cried from receiving flowers was just last week. I was down. I knew it. Steve knew it. It started the week before. Thursday night: book club. This is when the neighborhood wives get together once a month to talk, drink and eat. There is always a book selected, but I never read it. I look forward to book club, but I can't always go. I have this thing where I don't want to spend money on a sitter, if it means that mom is going to go out and booze it up. So, if Steve isn't home for book club, I will pass. I make it to about 70% of them throughout the year.
I was all set to go to the last one. Steve took the kids to gymnastics, while I stayed home to make dinner. I even got to write my book a bit. I am at 30,000 words now! When they got home, I had dinner set and ready. Tomato soup, Polish style, with sour cream and noodles. Delicious! Bread and salad complimented the soup. We ate. It was a nice dinner, albeit a bit late due to gymnastics. When we finished up, I looked at the clock and mentioned I was going to head out. Book club started at 7, and it was now 7:45p.
Steve asked that I help clean up. Okay. Typically I make dinner and he cleans up. But, he asked. And he only asks when he needs/wants something - that is the introvert in him. So, I helped. Then I headed out to book club, and had a great time, along with the three glasses of wine. I had blood work the next day, just typical check-up stuff, and I am sure there was still some wine flowing through that blood.
All was well.
Saturday morning came and Steve, the kids, and I headed to my sister's house, which is a 2 hour drive. Steve had plans of meeting his high school buddies for an annual get-together. Fine. He was going to do that and my Mom and I were going to take all the kids, including my nephews and niece, to see a movie.
I sent Steve a picture of the kids lounging in the most posh theater seats...and got no response.
Pilot wives, have you ever sent a text, or two, or six, to your wonderful husband, and get no response? I am sure you have. And if you have ever experienced this, you know EXACTLY where I am going with this.
I went along with his plans for his get-together with his guys, which included taking care of the kids, and I sent him a text...and he doesn't have the courtesy to respond?
This set me off. Over the next number of hours I was just brewing and brewing. By the time Steve got home, which was in the 01:00 hour somewhere, I was really upset. Like, really upset. There was a whole range of emotions I was feeling.
The whole reason I brought up the book club night earlier is because both events connect. I was asked to clean up before I went to book club. In Steve's defense he had gotten off a red-eye that morning, so his body clock was all fucked up. He needed assistance. Fine, I can help with that. That is what marriage and parenting is about. But, here I took care of the kids all of Saturday, which then bled into Sunday morning because Steve needed some extra sleep, with no condition. Yet, I wasn't able to go to book club until I cleaned up. See the connection?
And it wasn't really only about the taking care of the kids unconditionally. It morphed into me feeling under appreciated. Me doing a lot, all the time....over and over...without much thanks.
Under appreciated: a word that all mothers know and have felt.
It wasn't until Sunday night, with a slight buzz thanks to impromptu drinks at a friend's house, that I finally blurted out to Steve that I felt under appreciated. He was folding laundry on the family room floor, and I was sitting on the rocking chair. I totally caught him off guard. He wasn't happy. I am not sure how much more we talked that night.
Steve left for a 4-day on Monday, and he didn't leave on good terms. Like, not good at all. Like, I am glad there were no work incidents where powers that be would have asked "were you fighting with your wife?" I try my best to make sure he is all well and good when on a trip, but this trip wasn't one of those times. I don't think we talked on the phone the entire trip. I am sure he called, but I probably didn't answer. Yeah, that bad. A couple texts were exchanged. And then a number of emails were exchanged. We actually communicate very well through email, and resolve a lot of issues through written word.
While still on his trip, we talked things through...as much as you can when you aren't in the same room with a person. With the long email conversations, we started to clear the air. But, clearing the air takes time. I am never one to follow the whole "don't go to bed angry." If I have to feel something - I am going to feel it, even if it takes a long time.
Despite Steve being initially upset about me telling him I felt under appreciated, he understood where I was coming from. With time, I started to feel a bit better about things. But when it comes to feeling under appreciated, words only go so far. Actions fill out the remainder. And Steve, even while in another country, did the right thing.
Wednesday afternoon a co-worker brought the most beautiful bouquet of flowers into my office.
Bless her heart, because I instantly started to cry. I knew they were from Steve. I opened the card and it read, "Joanna, I love you. xoxo Steve"
They were perfect. In the most simple of actions, he made everything better. The weight I had been carrying over the last couple of days, immediately lifted from my heart. It was all I needed. Just like that, we were good.
Every married couple goes through things like this. Steve and I have been together for 17 years. It isn't always perfect and wonderful. But, when things do get bad we work hard to right everything again. We learn, and grow. We are now in a very good place.
I am passing some of the things I have learned along to all my fellow pilot wives, and pilots, so you can learn from this too.
** To the pilots out there, show appreciation to your wife. She does a lot, every day. You see what she does when you are home...when you are not, it is double! Show appreciation by thanking her for preparing a meal, or emptying the dishwasher. Thank her for making the bed. Tell her she is going a good job as a mother. Bring home flowers from your next trip. When you walk in that door, give her the flowers and a kiss. Give her a box of chocolates. These are the simple things that make her feel special. And, make sure you do these things often. Don't take her for granted. If you do, she will suffer. If she is suffering, the family will suffer.
** To the pilot wives out there, make sure you take care of yourself. I think a lot of me feeling under appreciated is due to the fact that I wasn't taking much time out for myself. With the start of school, and then the start of all the after-school activities, I was too much in mom mode. I hadn't been to yoga in weeks. I hadn't gone out with girls in weeks. I think I was just wore down. Go out with girlfriends. Go get a mani/pedi. Go to Starbucks, grab a coffee and read a book. Go to yoga. Go on that girls weekend you have been wanting to do. It is so important for you to take time for yourself.
** To the couples out there, think about when you were courting one another. Take your actions back to those days. How often did you give her flowers back then? How often did you wear a sexy nighty to bed? How often did you go on dates? Through all our email exchanges, Steve and I acknowledged that we hadn't been on a date in about a month. Sure we had things to attend together, without the kids, but those aren't dates. We were caught up with the busyness of life that we weren't taking time for one another. Court one another.
Don't get caught up in the busyness of life. Don't take anything for granted. Show your appreciation. Take time for one another. Love her, and she will love the world right back.