Day 1 – Sunday Shift Day
Today’s Agenda and Goal
Get my bonus sons off to their mom’s house with full bellies, medicine taken and no fighting (yeah right!!)Give my daughter some girl time since she’s surrounded by 4 brothers half her life. Great chance to have a friend over.Take some wings up to the fire house so the boys can have a “super bowl party.”Watch the Super Bowl, not caring who wins, but to see the Budweiser commercial that was filmed in Winter Park #Salute.
6:10AM – UGH…it’s that time…
I woke up to the sound of vibrations on the nightstand across the room. Trying to keep the kids in their beds for a little while longer, I rolled over and nudged my fireman so he can get to it before the music starts to play. As with every shift morning, he hits snooze so he can snuggle in for five more minutes and in an instant I’m melted away back into my dreams. He sweetly kisses my cheek and steps into the bathroom to get ready making sure the bedroom is still dark so he doesn’t disturb me…so sweet of him. Soon enough, I feel him kneel down next to my side of the bed, bearing his weight on top of me for one last hug and turn the house alarm off. He showers my face with kisses as I wrap my arms around for one more hug and whisper, “Be safe. I love you.” You see, that’s my thing…I have to always tell him those 5 words…and I’m always met with, “See you in the morning. I love you.” In fact, it’s so much our thing that he surprised me with a maltese cross pendant with his words engraved.
6:40AM – Dang It…the kids are up
As we break apart, I hear the pitter patter of squishy kid feet running down the tile hallway and I squint just enough to see that it’s 6:40AM and that means my firefighter is leaving for his 24 hour tour. I always wondered what the kids were running for, until one day my firefighter told me that our two youngest boys (Jackson – my son who is 4 and Jonathan – his son who is 8) like to “compete” for Daddy’s last kiss. When we blended our families, I instantly went from mother of two to mother of five…with a husband that is gone at least 10 days a month. Talk about a change of pace and with four boys and one girl it is a constant competition, especially for Daddy’s attention.
As with most shift mornings, I knew that if I rolled over and covered my head with a pillow or two, I could sneak in another 30 minutes before I was awakened by a knock on the door followed by someone saying, “So and so called me stupid.” Oh the joys of parenting!!
When I get up, the first thing I do is put on my Maltese cross, my rings and my dog tag. A few months ago, my fireman got us both dog tags that have Genesis 31:49 engraved on them…his says, “Firefighter” and mine says, “I love my fireman.”
8:00AM – First fight of the morning
I make my way out of the bedroom for my first cup of coffee and open the cabinet to get my mug…and a rubber roach, tied with fishing line to the door knob, fell out and swung from the cabinet. In my head, I could just hear my fireman laughing…except, it didn’t scare me…not even one bit…instead I was thinking, “Gosh, I hope he has better pranks for the guys at the fire house.” I may look girly and prissy, but it’s going to take a lot more than a roach in a cupboard to freak me out.
Breakfast for the kids is usually uneventful…until my middle bonus son emerged from his room asking for…(dun dun dun)…the last pancake from yesterday’s breakfast. The minute he asked, Jackson starts in with the whining…”I wanted the last pancake!!! But mooooooom, I wanted that.” I smile (yes, it’s a fake one but he’s 4…he doesn’t know any better) and say, “Sweetheart, you’ve already had breakfast…and a snack for that matter. Eric asked and is getting the last pancake.” Sweet and innocent Jackson decided that he’d go into full-on meltdown mode…starting with his body slinking off the chair and onto the floor with whining, screaming and pouting to boot. While I’m ignoring him, sweet Eric with a heart of gold, walks over to Jackson and says, “You can have the pancake…it’s okay.” While I truly love the gesture and Eric melts my heart the same way his dad does sometimes, it’s not okay. Giving him the pancake means that he gets what he wants when he whines and pouts and falls to the floor. Not on my watch!
9:15AM – The drop-off
It’s always hard to tell how drop-off will go at the boys’ mom’s house. Some days, they dread going and ask to stay a little longer. Why? I don’t know…maybe they think I’ll let them do whatever they want (pshaw…they don’t know me that well, do they) or maybe it’s because they want to visit their dad at the fire house? Unfortunately, the boys don’t get to go see their Dad at the fire house very often because when he’s on-shift, it’s her day. And I know he misses their visits, so I’m going to make a point of swinging by with them before I drop them off at her house so they can spend a few more minutes with him.
9:30AM – Clean like mad
As soon as we got home, I handed Jax Max the iPad so he would sit still and stop eating. That boy likes his groceries…and he has every intention in the world of following in Daddy AJ’s footsteps to become a fireman. He’s a bit obsessed…and I love it. His room is even decorated with fire house paraphernalia…speaking of his room, it’s disgusting and there are clothes and toys everywhere.
Savannah is a total “Acts of Service” kind of girl and if she knows she’ll make Mommy and Daddy AJ smile by helping out around the house, she’s more than happy to do it. So, I make a deal with her…clean your bedroom and the hall bathroom before your friend visits and I’ll give you $10. Working full-time outside of the house all week and then coming home to a family of 5 kids is exhausting…so I need help.
11AM – What? You got divorced too?? When did that happen?
The doorbell rings…and it’s my daughter’s friend. Funny story, I used to work for her dad about 7 years ago and our kids met at school and became BFF’s. Last time I saw him, was at the 3rd grade performance. He and his wife looked so happy.
I take a couple minutes to chat with my old boss and asked, “Are you guys divorced?” What gave it away was the email I got that said, “She’s with me that day, so what time would you like me to drop her off.” Except…I didn’t think about it until a few days later. They were married for 15 years and just grew apart. I often think about that…the growing apart thing. I miss my fireman terribly when he’s gone every third day, but I also think that is what keeps our spark alive. It gives me a chance to send him a playful text…make him miss me…and give him something to look forward to when he comes off shift.
1:15PM – Staff Page
My fireman has been on a bit of a dry spell lately…like a really looooooong dry spell…months and months without a fire. And I can tell he wants to catch one so bad. After all, A-shift just had 4 in one shift last week, including 2 in the middle of the night. You see, A-shift used to be his shift…and I know he misses his crew and he misses the camaraderie they once had…and I know he misses taking overtime just so he can catch up with them. That’s another challenge in being a blended family…if he takes OT, he either gives up time with his boys or gives up time alone with me. So, he doesn’t take it very often…and honestly, I love that he puts us first because for a long time, he worked it all and he did it for her…and in the end, it probably was a huge factor in their divorce. Okay, back to the staff page…
Around 1:15PM, I heard there was a structure fire…so I pulled up the scanner app on my phone and listened while I mopped the kitchen floor. The dispatcher called out the intersection and my heart skipped a beat…I thought it was the boys’ mom’s house. And I know that is one of my fireman’s worst nightmares…we’ve talked about it. She lives in his jurisdiction and he has no idea how the house is laid out, where his boys sleep, etc. so he doesn’t know how best to protect them in the event something happens…and I know that’s hard for him. After a few minutes and some deep breaths, I heard more chatter on the line. Turns out it was the house right behind hers and it was a “can handle” for the engine and truck. Although my man didn’t get any action on that call, he got something better. As he walked back to his rig, he saw his boys in their front yard and got to spend a couple minutes chatting with them while he took off his bunker gear. (Enter crazy jealous wife statement here…I wonder if his ex was watching him de-bunker from the window?? Ah…it doesn’t matter, because he comes home to me…and she can watch all she wants!!)
4:30PM – Man that “girl time” flew by…it’s crazy how much different girls are than boys
Jax Max ventured into the pool, played Marvel on the Xbox and snuggled with the dog a bit. The girls spent their time making their rainbow loom bracelets, kayaking in the lake and doing girly stuff. After I was done cleaning the kitchen and living room, I showered up and got ready for my visit to the fire house. Even though it was a Sunday and I just wanted to bum around, I always make sure I look my best for my husband…I want him to know that I won’t stop trying…and I won’t fall into “mommy” mode.
After a bit of fighting over putting the iPad down, we all got changed and left to drop off my daughter’s friend. I texted my fireman that I was picking up some wings and would be en route to the fire house.
5:30PM – Holy Moly that’s A LOT of Food!!!
I picked up 75 grilled wings and head toward my husband’s second home. I’m always a little nervous going there…at times I feel like I’m intruding. I sometimes wonder if there’s awkwardness between me and some of the guys because I’m the second wife. They all knew his practice wife…after all, they were together for 14 years…and he was with the same department the whole time. Heck, some of those guys were either in his wedding or at his wedding. I know that it certainly seems that way with some of the wives, but I’m trying to change that…I’m reaching out…taking the first step and trying to make friends with other department wives. The more I go to the fire house, the easier it gets. It gets easier to joke around with the guys and the more I go, the more I can spoil them with goodies like bread pudding or wings. It didn’t take long before I learned the keys to acceptance: Keep my husband happy. Happy Captain = Happy Crew. Feed them. Buy it, bake it, whatever…they love their food.Be yourself! Don’t try too hard…just be yourself and be comfortable.
I hadn’t planned on eating dinner there, but when I walked in and saw the kitchen counter covered in chips and queso, celery and buffalo wing dip, bratwurst, spicy mac n’ cheese, and the wings I brought I knew they’d have more than enough. While they finished getting dinner ready, Jax Max was on a mission…to eat ALL of the celery. I know, it’s kind of random…but he literally ate the entire bag of celery sticks that were on the counter. It was pretty funny…and the guys kept commenting on how he was plowing them down. Dinner was excellent…it always is…those guys know how to cook and they certainly know how to eat. And the best part, they NEVER let me clean!!
6:30PM – Kick-off and Wind Down
As soon as we got home, I turned on the Super Bowl. I didn’t really care about the game…or who was even playing. I had a mission…to catch the Budweiser Hometown Hero commercial. Why??? Because it was filmed in the City my husband works for…AND…he was part of the filming!!! Eeekkkk…I was so excited to maybe catch a glimpse of my husband, my hero on a Super Bowl commercial. The game was played…and although I didn’t see every play, I know who won (still don’t really care).
9PM – It’s ON!!! And I’m OUT!!!
The moment I had been waiting all day for was honestly a bit of a letdown…although the commercial was touching and beautiful, I didn’t get to see my husband…but I did see the Tiller (T61 is a beautiful rig). It turns out after filming him for 6 hours…he didn’t make the cut for the Super Bowl commercial. But, his hands are shown at the 2:46 mark on the extended version on YouTube!!
The minute the commercial was over, I texted my fireman goodnight…I’d finally seen what I waited up for. Funny enough…before I could finish typing, he was sending the same thing. He said he was gonna shower and rack out. I asked if he needed help. He LOL’d and then we said good night. I said, “Be Safe. I Love You.” And he said, “See you in the morning. I Love You.”
Locking up the house when he’s on shift is one of the worst…you see, I’ve had visions of locking up the front door and seeing the Chief’s car pull up (yes, like in Ladder 49) and I find myself short of breath. But, each shift night gets a little bit easier…I wear one of his t-shirts, make sure I have my rings, necklace and dog tag on, I put his pillows in the shape of his body, and I find myself dreaming of him until his tour ends.
7:00AM can’t come fast enough…more often than not, it means his shift is over and he’s wrapping up and heading home.