Thursday, August 17, 2017

Egotistical, my ass

Did you all read Fucking Flowers? If not, go read it. It is a really good story about our recent wedding anniversary. Long story short, Steve ordered flowers to be delivered to my office. I left 15 minutes before they came. I was sad and felt lonely. That night, Steve had a neighbor drop a bouquet of flowers off in our kitchen while the kids and I were running errands. I cried over the phone, thanking Steve for being so awesome.

I got a lot of comments on the post, and all but 2 were nice. I didn't see Daniel's negative comment until just last weekend. Here it is, in case you missed it:

Hello, I am sorry but I find you egoistical. What did you get your husband on that day? Only drama! It's your anniversary for both of you not just you. If you really miss him well I think the fact that he called you that day (while you were ignoring his calls) was enough to reassure you that he was thinking of you. I want to reassure people that your story is not the life of healthy and stable married couples when one of them happens to be an airline pilot. I have no doubt your husband loves you to put up with your character. You are the wife of what looks to be a mainline guy, life should be good now so instead of complaining because me me me didn't get the flowers, share with us the exciting life experiences you have traveling and how their dad spends days away from home in order to provide the best he can for his family! As much as I understand that your blog is a way for you to vent, remember that pilots talk in the cockpit as well and (with all due respect) you may not want to be "that pilot wife".

Let's just say that his comment didn't sit well with me. I have received negative comments before, and usually they roll off my back. I'm actually really good at things rolling off my back. Everyone has an opinion. I welcome conversations, the good, the bad, and the challenging. But, this comment was different. So much so that I am writing a blog post about it. There are times where I simply have to write out the voices in my head, and this is certainly time for that.

Here are the main points from his comment that rang the loudest to me:
*egotistical
*me me me
*not the life of healthy and stable married couple
*put up with my character
*life should be good now
*spend days away from home
*"that pilot wife"

After I read through his comment, my immediate thought is that he must be going through something with a woman who he finds to be selfish. I say this because of a retreat I was on about a year ago. It was for all the PSR teachers at my church. At one point we were listening to a reading, and then in small groups we were to discuss what we "heard." It was amazing how one person heard something totally different from another. The women who was very tired heard "rest, my child, rest." Where I didn't really hear that at all. See my point? We take what we want based on how it impacts you in your life at that moment. Therefore, I think Daniel is dealing with some selfish behaviors in his life. I did respond to Daniel and wished him well. And I do. But, I think he "heard" me totally wrong. And because of that, I need to set the record straight about the tone of his comment...

Frankly, I don't give a shit if Daniel actually reads my comment. But, I want to speak up as a pilot wife who is raising a family. This gig is hard....like, really hard, and I need to voice my side of things. As evident from the above comment, people may have the wrong impression about what it is like to be married to a pilot. Sure Steve's job comes with a lot of advantages. And yes, we do take advantage of those perks. But, it also stinks. I blog about all sides of this lifestyle. The Fucking Flowers post was about another missed anniversary. That stinks. It wasn't our first missed, and it certainly won't be our last. And it's okay that I was sad. Being sad, in this situation, is a good thing...it shows how much I still dig my husband. And I know that by sharing my story people can relate, and relating to one another in this wack-a-do lifestyle is necessary to stay sane and not feel so alone.

But first, I want to address his very sexist remark about how since Steve is mainline "life should be good." I am one of many pilot wives that work. I am one of many pilot wives, who is also raising a family, that work. I contribute substantially to our household income, thank you very much. I have always worked, thank you very much. I am incredibly insulted to think that my work and the sacrifices I make to be a working mother goes totally overlooked all because of Steve being a mainline pilot. Yes, life is good for us. But, it isn't due to Steve's job alone. Yet another example of a man overlooking a woman's work.

My job provides Steve comfort, as a matter of fact. Steve is constantly thinking about losing his job. Take, for example, the fact that we are shopping for a boat. With recent news out of North Korea he is afraid something may happen and he will lose his job. Perhaps we will delay buying a boat for a couple more months. I'm sure a Director of Marketing or an Accountant doesn't have the constant internal dialogue about losing his job.  Pilots think this way. And, again, my job provides Steve comfort that if something does happen we would be able to live off my salary. Just putting that point out there because my job provides more than just money in our pockets, thank you very much.

To roll off that point, let's continue to talk about my work and my perceived selfishness. I've been the one to give up on my career progression when we made the decision to have kids. I've been the one to yield to Steve "climbing the ladder" while I take care of things back home. Does that confirm that I'm egotistical? Not in my book. Not progressing my career is the furthest thing from a "me me me" mentality.

When Steve went mainline, his paycheck took a 57% cut.  He also went through weeks and weeks of training. And then he sat reserve in a different state. When he got back to our home base he had shitty schedules for years and years. All the while I was juggling newborn babies and work and being a solo-parent. I supported Steve that entire time. It was hard as fuck, but we got through it. Does all that support make me self-centered?

I can argue that there isn't one pilot wife out there, that is raising a family, that is self-centered. In order to be a pilot wife who is raising a family, you have to put your family's needs first. And the result is that you often put yourself last. It is hard work to be married to a pilot, and even harder work when you have kids with a pilot. The majority of my time and attention goes towards my children. To have that hard work and sacrifice go unrecognized is insulting....again, which is why Daniel's comment hit me so hard.

Let's talk about sacrifice. Based on Daniel's comment,  it seems that Steve is the only one to be impacted by being on the road. Yes, pilots make sacrifices to be a pilot, but so do us pilot wives. But, I think the general public ever thinks about us pilot wives. Do you want to know how often I hear, "but, he is gone all the time, think about how he feels." Ok, the flip side of that is me being a solo-parent for 4 days a week. Do you want to talk about sacrifices I have made because the father of my children is a pilot?

Guess who's social life isn't robust, because getting babysitters can get expensive? Me me me.
Guess who doesn't play volleyball anymore, because it is too hard to manage calendars with Steve's work schedule, the kids extra-curricular schedules, and sitters? Me me me.
Guess who hasn't advanced my career, because of my desire to be there for the kids as much as possible to offset Steve absence? Me me me.

Let's talk about some more of the other un-selfish things I do because I'm married to a man that is gone all the time, just to name a few:
- I've once had to clean up my Father-in-Law's vomit which sprayed all over our powder room
- I've had to go weeks upon weeks of seeing my husband for only 3-5 waking hours a week because he was visiting his mother in the hospital when she was having chemo treatment
- I've had to go to weddings without my husband
-I've attended numerous events, anything from Christmas parties with kids to company Holiday parties, stag
- I've had to be mentally and physically prepared to give birth without my husband present. Thankfully he was home for both births. 

The list could go on. I'm not giving the above examples as bitching or venting or complaining. Rather, I am sharing the above as a way to establish all that I DO give - all that I HAVE sacrificed - all the ways that having a traveling husband impacts me.

It is obvious to say that an airline pilot is going to spend days away from his family. But, what isn't obvious is the fact that when Steve is gone, it is ME, selfish me, that is holding down the home fort. It is me that is taking care of the children and the house, so that Steve has ease knowing that he can be away from home earning a living all the while things back home are good. He trusts me and my abilities to do a good job with the kids. He doesn't think about any troubles at home. He knows I got things covered. This gives him comfort.

For the record, holding down the fort is hard. As a matter of fact, I'm in the midst of getting the kids all set up for back to school. Yes, Steve was the one to take the kids to Target to get backpacks and scissors. But, I'm the one managing their forms, their schedules, their fees, their extra-curricular activities. And when it comes to their first day back at school, Daddy won't be there. I'm the one that is going to have to make sure the kids aren't bothered by this. I'm the one that tries my best at never making the kids think that Daddy being gone stinks. I'm the one teaching them that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And sometimes that isn't easy to do, especially when you find yourself crying on the steps because you feel so incredibly overwhelmed with this lifestyle.


To switch gears to some of the other comments Daniel made, it's too bad that he thinks we don't have a stable and healthy marriage. He should read Divorce, and maybe he can get a better sense of our marriage and how we are actually doing pretty okay. And shame on anyone who makes a broad marriage comment after reading just one blog post. And at that, I don't even think he read the whole post. The post showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is. I was down. Steve went out of his way to make me happy. This, in fact, showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is.

For what it is worth, Steve and I had a great anniversary this year. As established we didn't share the actual day together, but we made the most of it on other days. Not only will this flowers story be forever remembered in a very sweet way, we gave each other some really great gifts. I gifted him a trip to a shooting range, where he shot off nearly 500 rounds. And he gifted me tickets to a U2 concert.

As far as being "that pilot wife" I wish Daniel would have elaborated on what he means by that. Am I "that pilot wife" that usually has a clean house for Steve to come home to? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps a happy home? Am I "that pilot wife" that feeds our family nutritious meals? Am I "that pilot wife" that makes Steve happy? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps my man sexually satisfied? Am I "that pilot wife" that doesn't nag my husband? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps his children happy and well? Am I "that pilot wife" that works her ass off? You betcha I'm that pilot wife.

Writing this out certainly makes me feel better. For all I know Daniel is some troll who has nothing to do better with his time than to make harsh comments on blogs. But, at least this was a way for me to put some things out there that many people have not thought about before. Plus, his comment was good blog material, and I'm always looking for inspiration for blog posts.

6 comments:

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  2. Joanna you have such a gift of writing. A number of times I have read your blog OUT LOUD to my pilot husband because you put into words my frustrations, feeling and thoughts. (And sometimes to remind him that I'm not the only one that feels or reacts certain ways.) Your blog posts speak truth and help this pilot wife not feel so "odd". It's always nice to relate to others in similar circumstances. Write on!!

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  3. I got taught in Sunday School as a teen that you should never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I don't think it is fair to call someone selfish that you have never met. I am on Team Joanna on this one.

    Joanna is human and capable of having an off day. Doesn't make her selfish. Steve seemed to understand and worked to make her day better from afar. Joanna would've done that for Steve if he needed it. I thought several of the comments from that post were negative, mean-spirited and unnecessary and I am glad Joanna addressed it on this post.

    Mary Y from Arizona

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  5. Joanna this is a classic 'the truth lies within the middle.' You are 50% correct and the person criticizing you is 50% correct.

    Here's my life problems right now....

    I'm so stressed out, nothing is working for me, I have been 'ghosted' by my job, I have no money, I have no time, I'm doing everything for my fiance while feeling like I'm drowning in all other aspects of my life.

    Occasionally I lash out at my boyfriend (mainly in the form of weird moral lectures...just now I sent him a facebook rant about the meaning of marriage.)

    I have to do it or else I will go insane. Doesn't mean it's right to do it, doesn't mean I'm right...it just is.

    That's what's going on here. I shouldn't lecture my boyfriend. I should be able to control myself and 'Be Perfect.' But I'm not and I can't control myself and I have these Worries and Insecurities that I need to Release in a Safe and Healthy Manner.

    That's exactly what you did with your husband. You had worries and insecurities, you were feeling alone and misunderstood and you lashed out. Now, the question is...On a scale of 1 to 10 did you do it in a not-relationship-jeopardizing way? Let's hope so!

    It's all about releasing the valves in a way as not to jeopardize the relationship. It's a tight-rope act.

    You know your husband and if he can handle the occasional 'tantrum' and at the end of the day understands that they are just 'emergency pressure release' exercises then you are totally fine.

    But let's you and me not do it too much because our men are under stress and we are supposed to be their to support them (the whole help-meet Christian concept)

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