Have you ever been at a family event or a neighborhood gathering or church and someone says “That was fun. We should all get together for again.” and your insides start to squirm and your brain starts thinking of polite excuses?
So these are super nice people and it was really fun. You and the wife get along. Your husband and her husband get along. Your kids play together nicely. But all you can think about is your husband being gone the upcoming week for training and then working a trade resulting in a 48 and then the family boyscout camp. And. And. And.
It all adds up to the fact that there are literally only 2 evenings in the next 14 days without any events that your husband is home. And you want him all to yourself.
(well, you’ll share him with the kids too!)
It can be a gut wrenching feeling if you let it. Or it can be a very freeing opportunity to hold tight to your values and know what is best for your family.
I know personally that when we have tried to squeeze in more events and activities to stay in touch with everyone who wants to socialize with you, it just adds more stress to your family.
If you don’t have enough time for each other, don’t stress yourself out trying to fit in more social engagements.
I can remember feeling stress over groups of couples who wanted to have a monthly euchre night for 5 couples. One of the other couples was a police officer and they also had 4 children. While we so appreciated everyone’s efforts to find a date to make it work, just having those conversations made me cringe. I’m sure my facial expressions and body language gave me away.
My mind was silently screaming and willing them. “Please don’t pick that Saturday night. It’s the only night my son is with us and all 6 of us can be home together.”
(Ah yes, the blended family factor further contemplates this.)
I give you permission to be selfish with your family time. Feel the freedom of that statement?
This is one of those unique issues with the fire family schedule. He doesn’t get to tuck them in every night. So it’s ok to say no just to be home for that routine.
You don’t have to be rude. There are other ways to stay connected with these friends. Texting. Emails. Send cards. Facebook of course. As these people interact with you more, they’ll start realizing how much your husband is gone at times their husband is home. I finally found a neighborhood mom who is a runner and realizes why 2 out of 3 mornings, my husband is gone so I can’t slip out of the house at 6 am for a jog. And on that 3rd morning, I really prefer to wake up next to him.
Find other families that connect with your kind of schedule.
Other fire or police or medical employee families seem to get this. We recently connected with a family where Dad is in the reserves and works at a hospital. Our kids play hockey together. The wife and I really connected over the weekend work challenges….we get to be the only mom’s on the weekend hanging in the boys locker room getting the kids laced up in their skates and pads. And when we try to get together at other times, we now just laugh at our crazy schedules. Once we were 6 weeks out on our calendars before we gave up. We’ve come to the conclusion that we’ll just plan it even if only 2 or 3 of the 4 adults can make it.
It can be a very lonely life sometimes as a fire wife.
So it is important to connect with other friends and neighbors and family and to have a good strong support network around you (and not just on Facebook.) But save yourself some emotional energy when coordinating social schedules. Don’t be pressured into a more “traditional” schedule when there is nothing traditional about holding down the fort for 48 hours and counting the minutes until he’s back home safe and sound with your family.
Find other fire families who "get" the fire life schedule
There are some people who may not understand the shift schedule or what it means to have your firefighter home. In the Fire Wife Sisterhood you will find other women devoted to their firefighters who “get” it.
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For some more reading
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