Anyway, so after I got home from the movie, Steve and I stayed up and caught up from his last trip. We do this often: kids are in bed, we pour a glass, or two, of wine, and we talk. We don't really talk much when he is working - that is just our thing - so when he gets home we have days to recap.
Saturday was a beautiful day. Springlike beautiful! Gorgeous and perfect. We had a chill morning, then I headed out to yoga and to shop for a dress for a dinner/dance coming up. The kids spent the day playing in the creek, and Steve just putzed around the yard doing little things here and there.
We went to church Sunday morning, and then came home and had breakfast. My Aunt came over to discuss carpet for her basement project.We went to Home Depot to select the carpet, then we grabbed lunch. The kids were playing in the creek and Steve was cleaning the cars. After my Aunt left, I had to run errands:
- Target: dog food, and a birthday gift for Ben's friend
- Aldi: dog bed
- Walmart: dog food storage bin, and rubber boots for Ben
- two car wash places, but both were crazy busy and I just didn't want to wait
When I got back it was around 4pm, and I was tired. Since about 11:30 I was go-go-go, and I was tired...tired and pissy. Steve was still cleaning the car, and the kids were happily playing in the creek.
Finally, around 5, I started a fire in the firepit.
I cracked open a beer, and chilled. Steve took Ben to a birthday party/sleepover at 6p. When he got back we set Cici up with a movie, and Steve and I sat by the fire, drank beer, and talked.
OK, here is the pilot wife stuff - I needed to set the stage a bit...
When Steve gets his mind set on something, he is hyper focused about it. I can't say this is a pilot things, necessarily, but it certainly is a Steve thing. He wanted to clean the cars, and he sure did! He cleaned them for 5 hours.
On another note, he wants to add more miles to his running, and he sure is doing it. Let's go back to Friday afternoon: he got home from his trip around 3:45p, and wanted to run immediately. Fine. He was the one taking the kids to Polish School, so he needed to get the run out of the way. He talked with a CA who said you shouldn't run a dog until 1 1/2 years old, so he didn't take Niko on the run. Instead, after Steve's run he came back to get Niko and then took him on a walk.
We leave the house for Polish School at 5:15, which really means 5:20 or so. While Steve was walking Niko I was the one left to get dinner for the kids, get their school stuff prepared, get their kindles set in the car, get their costumes prepared (they were having a Carnival). The costume hunt set me off since I couldn't find Cici's most recent costume. I called Steve, to ask him where it was, and it went to voicemail. I called him three times. Nothing. This got me going, good! I was not happy. Not to mention, it was now around 5:10p, and they had to leave in 5 minutes, and he wasn't even home yet. Oh, and I was supposed to meet girlfriends at 5:30. I had to get myself ready, too!
Finally, Steve walks around the bend in the road as I am in the car getting the kindles set. I was pissed - that fuming kind of pissed. Like, not talking pissed because if I said anything it would be very hurtful and that isn't fair to Steve.
My silence was enough to tell Steve how I was feeling.
"What can I do?" he asked, the second I walked back into the house.
"The dog needs fed and the costumes need to go in the car."
Steve jumped on the tasks, got himself changed, and he and the kids were out the door by 5:20. As he left he kissed me and told me to have a good time with the girls. He took a second to slow down and make it known that he wanted me to be happy and have fun, which was nice. I poured wine into a metal bottle (gotta make the movie more fun!) and I was out the door. I showed up to dinner 10 minutes late.
As Steve and I were discussing Friday afternoon around the fire, I established how upset I was since it was me doing everything for the kids to prepare them for Polish School. Steve was focused on this run, and walking Niko. This right after being with the kids for three days, and doing everything for the kids for three days. A pilot wife looks for a break when her man gets home, and it can get to her if she doesn't get that break.
As Steve saw it, he needed to feed the dog and get the costumes in the car...easy jobs, quick jobs. No stress about that. Why? Because I was the one bearing the stress leading up to that point. As I went down the list of all the things I was doing when he was walking the dog, my voice was getting elevated. Perhaps the five beers I had consumed up to that point in the evening didn't help with my volume control, but I was getting a bit worked up.
And then Steve hit home. "Joanna, I'm an outsider. Even if I would have been there to help, you would have done it anyway. You know that. You would have done things your way."
I'm an outsider.
I have never heard him say that before. But, you know what? He is right. He is right in that I would have wanted the control over getting the kids prepared for Polish School. And, he is right that he is an outsider. Not all the time, but often enough.
Steve may or may not know that Cici's lunch container is blue. He may or may not know that Cici needs two snacks for the day at school. He may or may not know that we are currently reading Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox before bed. He may or may not know that Cici has an Art Show at school this week. He may or may not know that Ben has a new gymnastics teacher. I could go on...
It isn't that Steve and I don't talk. As established above, we can talk for hours when Steve gets home that first night. It is just that I can't fill him in one every second of our day when he is on the road. Stuff can get left out, especially the mundane stuff.
It isn't that Steve isn't an involved father, there is nothing further from the truth. It is just that he is physically away from us so much. By the time he gets back in step from a trip, he is off again on another one.
Certainly, there is nothing I am doing that is intentionally making Steve feel like an outsider. The kids and I have a bond, a solid bond. As much as it can wear on me, like at church when both kids are touching me (Attached), I think it is really special. I am a constant for the kids, and am with them pretty much all the time when they are out of school. This constant presence strengthens our bond. We are always there for one another. Steve isn't always there for us, physically. Again, a reality of the job. And, again, a reason I think he feels like an outsider.
I don't know if this bothers Steve. When he said that around the fire, I stopped talking. I didn't push anything further and thought it best we switch gears. I had five bottles of beer, and there is a certain state of mind one should be in when having deep conversations. If I had to guess, I don't think it bothers Steve all that much, because if it did we would have been discussed it before now. I think it is just a reality of his life as an airline pilot...a reality of our life.