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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thoughts on Being A Pilots Wife.

Sometimes I feel like I am single. Not in the carefree, anything goes kinda way, but in the I spend a lot of time alone kinda way. The problem is, there is no real way to remedy the situation. I know that I have plenty of friends and family that I don't spend as much time with as I would like, or even should. It's just that the alone hours are at times when most people are busy with their families; having dinner, putting kids to bed, all the normal things one does when they've spent the day at work away from eachother.
There is also the home and dog situation, as I like to call it. I spend 8 hours at work and my dog spends 8 hours at home. The house accumulates dust, dog hair, and messiness from the coming and going of our lives and so I feel that I should spend my evenings there, giving the dog and the house some attention. Not every evening, all evening, no, but at least some part of most of them. I am incredibly blessed to have my family nearby and a few close friends I can always call on. I am also very thankful that Andy and I chose a home located in one of the most friendly and welcoming neighborhoods I've ever encountered. Most evenings all I have to do is walk next door, tap on one of their doors, and I have someone to pass the time with. Tonight though, I'm alone and completely unmotivated to get anything done. Laundry is piling up- there is a load in the dryer waiting to be folded, another in the washer, waiting patiently for a spot in the dryer, but I can't seem to bring myself to go down and get it because sitting upstairs folding while I watch a movie just seems too boring and lonely.
There is a whole other aspect to this lifestyle that is perhaps the hardest to deal with- it's almost impossible to schedule, anything. My work schedule is more or less pretty predictable: if I have Saturday off this week, I will have Tuesday off next week. If I work late this Thursday, I will get out at 5pm next Thursday, for now, these are the only changes to my schedule (bar a wedding or some other major event). However, Andy's schedule never really appears to have any rhyme or reason, it's not 7 on, 7 off, or even 5 on, 3 off. Not that they intend for it to be this way, but no one that needs a flight ever seems to need 5 or 7 days, they needs two here, one there, half a day here, or two weeks, just for a little change of pace. In turn, my schedule becomes very mixed up. It comes from a desire, a need, to be with Andy when he is home, while at the same time a desire, a need, to still have outside activities to keep me occupied when he's not home. Here is a case in point - I went to Roanoke Ranch today to participate in a practice run for the cattle drive fundraiser they have going in a few weeks. The horses are rough - they haven't been ridden regularly since last fall, and half of them have never laid eyes on a cow before. They are herd-bound and ornery, and unfortunately, in the last two years since I rode regularly, I too, have lost my nerve. I need to ride more if I'm going to be a real asset to this ranch. Kat (the "manager" for R.R.) understands this and is practically begging me to commit to coming out and riding as much as possible. She needs me to help get the horses in shape, and I, if I'm going to get my nerve back, need to ride as much as possible. But how to balance my home and family responsibilities with another activity? This is where I get stumped.
Most couples see eachother every day: they wake up next to eachother, they come home and eat together. They sleep together. They share the responsibilities. There is a give and take-it's ok to make outside plans, because tomorrow will the be same, they'll see eachother again, same time, tomorrow morning. Our system is so very, very different. When Andy is home, he does what he can to keep the house picked up, kept up, and to give the dog a little attention. It would be easier for me to commit to say, every Tuesday evening at the ranch riding, if there wasn't the possibility that Andy will be gone every Tuesday, or home, every Tuesday. I can't just leave the dog in his cage all day, and I can't just not see my husband if he will leave the next day for a three-day flight. Kat says I can bring the dog with me to the ranch, so his part in the equation is not quite as large as it would have been, but what about Andy?
The ironic part of all this, is that even though I don't want him to leave, when Andy is gone I can finally do something with friends or just for myself without feeling guilty. I can go and spend the entire afternoon at the ranch if I want to, and know that I'm not missing any precious time with him. I get more reading done, the house stays cleaner, heck, we even spend less money because when Andy travels, he gets paid for his meals. If he's careful, he can even make a profit from the per diem. He also gets compensated- well -for working a day off (which is why he is gone today). It's also kind of crazy how if he somehow scores the schedule that allows him to do only out-and-backs for say, two weeks, I'm ready for him to go because I'm used to that time alone. And I think he's ready to go too. I've said it before- it's our reality -and I don't really want sympathy for it. Empathy, perhaps, understanding of why I always seem so busy when I actually spend a lot of evenings alone, but not sympathy. I don't like being asked where Andy is, and then getting an "awwwwww" when I say he is on a week-long trip to Texas or whatever. That only makes it worse since the only way I can get through it is to make it feel normal.
The silver lining to it all, is that we rarely get sick of eachother and we don't take our time for granted. I still get "thank-yous" for dinner, since home-cooked meals aren't exactly the norm for my traveller husband. But oh how I wish for a companion to sit next to me in church every Sunday, for the normalcy and comfort of spending every day together and knowing that I can make plans(and truly enjoy them) without guilt.
As I write, my big hunk of dog is sitting on the floor demolishing a bone, happy as a clam to have his mama home and get to spend some time under my feet. At least, no matter how late at night it is, I have Sam. :)


Bradi said...

And the grass is always greener...isn't it? Lucky that you have a great hubby, a great dog (and cats) and someday some kids that will run you ragged and make you wonder how you ever felt lonely. =) Hang in there and stop by more often!!!! Bring Sam...the girls love him LOL