Holidays? Well, those are great if you happen to not be scheduled on one!
Birthdays? Same thing goes. In fact our daughter just celebrated her 6th birthday at the fire station. What little girl doesn't like being driven around in a fire truck, eating take out Chinese and finding a Barbie Dream House in the closet at the fire station?
Weekends? What are those? It's always a nice change of pace when my husband isn't actually on shift for a weekend - but that hardly ever happens and if it does, we stand around and stare at each other like a couple of retired folk with no tee time.
Speaking of standing around and staring at one another, we tend to do a lot of that during the weekdays - especially when the kids are in school. Although I work from home part time and my husband teaches and seems to be constantly answering his Nextel from work, there is a lot of "down time" that normal, non fire fighting couples don't experience until they reach retirement age.
Of course, there are pros and cons to this arrangement.
- Extra set of hands to help with the kids and household chores...although my husband has never cleaned a bathroom at home or organized my linen closet.
- Help in the kitchen. We all know that most fire fighters like to cook, and it's rare to find one who doesn't. I'm spoiled because he is an excellent cook, and his dishes aren't so spicy that they'll burn the pants off you - unless you are into that sort of thing!
- Couple time. Married people with 9-5 jobs are always talking about "date night." We like the occasional date night too, but feel lucky that if we can't squeeze one in between our kids' activities and his schedule, we get a lot of time together while the kids are in school.
- Someone else to throw the slobbery ball for the dog and, last but not least...
- A designated lawn mower.
- Extra set of hands - don't pretend you don't know what I mean by this.
- Too many chefs. When my husband is at work, I'm in charge. Although at times this can be stressful and leave me feeling like a single mom, I don't mind it and get into my own groove just fine. When he's home, my whole balance is thrown off as I am distracted by him and he is also trying to be helpful (which is great, but like I said "too many chefs"). Sometimes it just gets a little tense and we need to decide who is in charge!
- Boredom. When he is working, my husband has a strict schedule and a tremendous amount of things that need to be done at the fire station. Here at home, it's a little different. Of course we try to maintain a nice routine - it helps everyone out - but we are in no way as regimented as the fire house is! Adjusting to a more relaxed home life after being on shift can take some time, even a few days. And we try our best to make it through these times with as much understanding for one another's "schedule" as possible. But believe me, it isn't always perfect.
We all know, as fire fighter wives, that the schedule is demanding, crazy and irritating at times. But it can also be a blessing.
And for all the times I've grumbled, "I wish you worked a normal job like other people," I would not have him trade places with a 9-5er for the world because I love what he does, I love how it makes him feel and I'm proud to be married to him. And at this rate, after 13 years of marriage and 13 years of enduring a fire fighter's schedule...we're in GREAT shape for retirement and all those days of staring endlessly at each other over the tops of our golf clubs.
How do you cope with your fire fighter's schedule?