Parenting in and of itself is a difficult job. Some people have the extremely difficult task of parenting alone as a single parent, or inconsistently like a military spouse. But being a Fire Wife also comes with its own share of difficulties. Not only can he be gone up to two weeks on a strike team, but some overtime shifts get assigned the morning that he is supposed to come home. In addition, each time he comes home there could be a transitional period that lasts from a few hours to a few days.
Add a blended family schedule on top of that and some may wonder how I remember anyone’s schedule. I love my calendar because I mark it with both my husband’s work schedule, and my stepson’s entire schedule at the beginning of each month, and sometimes a few months ahead. This way when someone tries to make plans, I am not scrambling between my planner, the fire calendar and my stepson’s schedule: it’s all in one place. This also keeps me feeling a little more organized and collected: something that can make the longer shifts seem manageable.
I am about 8 years into learning what it is like to be a fire wife, and it is ever changing. When we first met, he was a reserve firefighter so shifts were few and far between. Once he became an EMT and on an ambulance the shifts were 24 hours and two times a week. Now he is full time on a Kelly schedule which is where marking down his schedule on my calendar comes into play. A Kelly schedule is a rotating fire schedule, the best way to really understand is to see a picture. (Attached below – Each color is a different shift.) In addition to the changes in schedules, we went from having my stepson half of the time, to having him and our two daughters. As they age there are always new stages and challenges along the road, some easier and some harder.
There are times my husband’s schedule mostly effects the oldest, and other times where the little ones are the ones who miss him the most. All we do is embrace each stage the best that we can and work through anything that comes our way. FaceTime is amazing and I don’t know how people did without it before. My kids love to see daddy’s face while he is working even if it’s only for a few minutes. In addition we try to visit the station once every few months so the children can see where daddy is when he calls them.
I could continue to go on and on about how Fire Wife life is, and how we make it work. My plan is to divide my blogs into smaller segments that can stem from this topic, and post them throughout this blog. If you have any topics you’d like me to discuss comment below.
Jade San Nicolas