so, you wanna be a pilot

The other night I was chatting with a friend while waiting to pick Cici up from dance. I showed her the picture that Steve sent me from his layover. Puerto Vallarta.

As we were chatting, another mom chimed in. Apparently her husband wants to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. I hate to say, but my advice wasn't all that supportive in having him pursue his dream.

In case you haven't been following my blog for that long, let me give you a breakdown of Steve flight path (ha! see what I did there?!):
- 1993, started college with the intention of becoming a pilot
- 1998, graduation, and continued to work charter and then a corporate gig.
- 1999, enter Joanna.
- 1999 hired by the regionals, with about 1,400 flight hours.
- 2006, hired mainline, with about 7,000 flight hours.

It's 2017, so nearly 25 years after Steve starting flying and he is at a place where he is comfortable with his career. He is where he wants to be. The only thing missing is a pair of reading glasses. A young Steve once said that when he had gray hair and reading glasses then he knew he made it. He's got the gray, just waiting on the glasses. It has taken 25 years for Steve to get here....18 days off this month, lucky to get holidays off, a decent paycheck, mainline flying.

Now, imagine if you start the pursuit of becoming a pilot at age 40.

The road to becoming a pilot is long, and hard. Being a green pilot at a company isn't easy with shit schedules and sitting reserve and low pay...relocating or commuting. All the shit stuff was done before we had kids. We were intentional about that, and once Steve was hired mainline we threw the birth control out the window. As a matter of fact, I told Steve that I was pregnant with our first when he was sitting in his crashpad. Totally romantic and dreamy, right? 

I have only know Steve to be a pilot. The kids have only know their Dad to be a pilot. It is our life. I have accepted it, and the kids have only know this as their reality. I think it would be very hard for a family to readjust their lifestyle so that someone can pursue their dream of becoming a pilot.  The road is long and hard. Did I already say that? And you have to deal with a lot of shit as you make your way up. Wait, I already said that too, didn't I. I think it was worth it for Steve, but I really don't know if it would be worth it to start pursuing your dream when you are in your 30s or 40s.

Has anyone started flying in their 30s or 40s? I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on the long road.


***

Steve's schedule spit out a 2-day trip last week, and a 2-day trip this week.

Steve's set up to receive text messages if a trip pops into open time. Sunday morning, about 10 minutes before leaving for church, he got a text. It was a 4-day. 4 days of flying pays a lot more than 2 days of flying.

Steve didn't jump on it, but rather contemplated the decision while sitting at the kitchen island. He was drinking a glass of grapefruit juice, which was probably in hopes to help with the slight headache he had from a late night of drinking.

He had 5 minutes to make the decision due to a timing issue (something that I don't know the exact details of).

I never give advice on things like this. I always support him. I don't know what it's like to be gone week after week. If he wants to stay home, that's fine. I am adjusted to Steve being gone, so for him to be gone for work 4 days instead of the scheduled 2 doesn't bother me in the least. I also told him that life isn't just about money. I was supporting him in picking up the trip, and in ignoring it.

He didn't pick up that trip. He stuck with his original pairing.

Because of that we had a family dinner three nights this week. I was able to go out with girlfriends without having to worry about a sitter. I was able to run errands without kids in tow. Steve took Ben to get boots. Steve came to the rescue and delivered a couple Christmas gifts for me, since I totally flaked. I took a nap one evening, while Steve cleaned up after dinner and got the kids in bed. Steve took the trash out to the curb. The laundry is caught up, and it wasn't my doing.

All the above isn't typical, which makes me appreciate it all that much more. Life isn't just about money.


***

Steve and Cici are part of a father-daughter group that has meetings once a month. The group also does camping activities throughout the year as well. It's a good time for the girls, and a good time for the dads to get together and drink beer.

Cici had a Christmas gift exchange party scheduled for Thursday night. Steve RSVP "no" since he was working. Steve told this to me on Wednesday. He hadn't told Cici about the party.

This crushed me. It would crush Cici to know that she would miss a party because Steve was working, let alone the party where the Christmas gift exchange was happening.

I told Steve to change the RSVP, and he did. I took her to the party, and a friend brought her home. It's all good...Steve is known as the airline pilot, so people know he's not likely to show. The other dads step in and help out with Cici. It's all good.

It takes a village...

Although, I do have to add that Cici did get upset at the party at one point. She told me that she started to cry because all the other girls had their dad there, except for her. "But, then Sarah's dad left because he had to work too, and that made me feel better." I comforted Cici, and told her that she is growing up to be a very strong girl. I told her that I'm a strong woman because of all that I do because Steve is gone so much. She was following in the same footsteps. I'm not sure if that actually comforted her.

***

I've been meaning to write about this, but just haven't. With Steve being home so much lately, and now that he is on a trip, I'm missing him. Consider his absence my motivation.

I joined some girlfriends for happy hour a couple weeks back. One of the gals is dating, so we started a conversation about who should pay for a date: him, her, or 50/50?

Now, let's go back nearly 19 years to when Steve and I first met. I was in college, and his was first-year pay at a regional. His first year salary was $17k. Yes, that's right....no typo here. (See my first section if you need a specific example of the shit things pilots go through).

Despite Steve's shitty paycheck, he always paid for our dates. Always. I'm not saying that it should be the same for people dating in 2017. I do realize that things change with time and age. But, I'm  sharing my story. And with my story, I have to make the point that Steve went out of his way to make sure he was the one to pay for our dates...while making $17K a year. By the way, I never knew his salary until years after the fact. He told me that he was strategic with the amount of gas he put in his car, so that his budget would allow him to pay for dinner. He would forgo buying body lotion, as the story goes, so that he could pay for a date. The man made a huge effort to court me.

It is now in our marriage that I realize how lucky I am to be loved so much by him. And I want the same for all relationships. Everyone deserves to be loved.

My latest jam is "Better Man" by Leon Bridges

I don't want much
I just wanna be a better man
To my baby
Give me your good luck
I was singing with them Jezebels
Under perfume sheets
Got a golden smile, heart overflow
But got us in love, but it wasn't enough
What can I do? What can I do?
To get back to your heart
I'd swim the Mississippi river
If you would give me another start, girl
All night long I was out
Out till the morning
But baby you're tender
Lust when I'm longing
Baby please, I'm down on my knees begging
I thirst for you girl
Baby I'm running to your well
What can I do? What can I do?
To get back to your heart
I'd swim the Mississippi river
If you would give me another start, girl

"I'd swim the Mississippi river..." I love that. I love how much this man loves his woman. That is what I'm talking about...a love so deep you would do anything for it. Everyone deserves that kind of love.

Again, it's Steve absence that is making me all sappy and shit, so forgive me if you want to throw up in your mouth a little bit. But, it just goes to show you that you can be married to a pilot and have a good thing. His absence strengthens our relationship, despite what certain stereotypes might claim. His absence gives me time to reflect on our marriage, in the quiet of my own head, and focus on all the good.






Comments

  1. The first portion of your post - YAAAAASSSSS! We have friends who are in their 40s, although he had most of his training done in his 20s, he never pursued aviation as a career. Now he has decided to and his wife & kids are flipping out. He's mad because he looks at my husband's schedule, trips and salary and feels he deserves the same. (I laugh out loud at this thought!) "Sorry honey, maybe when you are 55 or 60...."
    I'm beyond thankful we did put in the time early, and it looks glamorous now (for my husband, not the kids & I at home). It's just such a long road and very bumpy. I wish folks could see the big picture.
    Hope your holidays are full of rest and sweet times together (regardless of the dates).

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment