Thursday, December 22, 2011

I am a Fire Wife. It's my Life Too.

So many fellow fire wives have already written about this. Heck, maybe I already have and just don't remember.

So the question / issue is: why do I identify myself by my husband's occupation?

I mean, it's not like the wives of my co-workers go around calling themselves "engineer wife", or my mom ever called herself a "machinist wife", or later a "bus driver wife".


The phenomenon seems almost exclusively limited to rescue and military wives. Fire wives. Police wives. Army wives.

I am a fire wife. Why? Because it's my life too.

When we were dating, Jason was a volunteer firefighter, and a volunteer rescue & recovery diver with the local water rescue team. And that in & of itself creates a level of acceptance and... difference... between your life, even when you are dating, that just isn't "normal"*

* I personally hate the word "normal", but I struggled to find a better word, and I know ya'll know what I mean

Getting paged in the middle of the night, in the middle of our date, was just part of life.

When he applied for, and got offered the job of full-time firefighter (the same position he is in now), and we knew our relationship was headed toward marriage, he respected our relationship enough to sit down with me for "the talk".

I accepted his new position. I was happy for him. I accepted what this would mean for our life together, even if I didn't fully comprehend it. Yet.

The fact is, when he became a full-time firefighter and we moved in together, my life changed too.

No more would my significant other be available every weekend. He would be free every third weekend. And due to Murphy's Law it was likely that Water Rescue would often want him on that weekend.

No more would my significant other be guaranteed to be off every national holiday. In fact, every third year he was guaranteed to work most of them. For all 24 hours, not just the first eight.
My husband would miss Christmases, anniversaries, birthdays.

Near the end of my pregnancy, when I was put on modified bedrest, I would need a backup (my mom) who could stay with me when he was on shift. Because he wasn't just gone during the day. He'd be gone overnight till the next day.

I learn to do things myself, to wrangle the house and a preschooler, and handle things solo. It's what I do.

I am a fire wife.

I attend family events alone. I attend work events alone.

My girlfriends don't understand that just because they schedule a night out during the evening or on a weekend doesn't mean that my husband will be available to watch Jena so I can come. In fact, that darn Murphy's Law means that most likely he'll be on shift that very night.

It means that at least a third of the nights* when I come home from work, and a third of the weekends, no, I do not have my spouse to help me with my daughter, help me make dinner, complete household chores, or heck just be there with me. It's just me and her.

* and that doesn't count the extra shifts, the mandatory doubles, the phone calls (like the one I just got) telling me he'll have to stay longer than planned

I am a fire wife.

It also means that the firehouse is as much a second home to myself and Jena as it is to Jason.

It means a wonderful community of people who get you, even when you don't get yourself.

It means knowing my husband's schedule, for the next five years. Even if it does suck.

It means he can take one day off, and actually get five days off (from the fire dept, not including his 2nd job or his business).

It means my husband has learned how to cook for 20+ people, and is actually a better cook than I am (not saying much, but still...).

It means seeing my husband fulfill his dreams, and knowing that I'm a big part of what made that happen.

I am a fire wife.

Yes, it's tough. A lot Most of the time. But there are a lot of good things about it too.

So you see, I call myself a FireWife because it's not just his life, it's my life too.


this post inspired by my own life, but actually writing it down triggered by reading posts such as this


Unknown said...

I've lost friends over this very discussion. They believed I lost my identity. But I guess, unless you have lived this life, you just don't get it. We are part of this crazy world. It dictates just about everything we do, when we do it. It is your life as well.

Marianne said...

Fortunately, it's not my life. But there are others who have this besides military and rescue wives. My BIL works for Cinti. Bell and has worked almost every holiday for the last 16 years and not by choice. My husband has 2 children from a prior marriage and had to split lots of holidays. My step kids are grown and those days are over, but my BIL still works there, so we just schedule the holiday around his shift. Currently, it's 2nd shift and so our Christmas dinner will be at noon. I totally get it, we just never consider ourselves as any specific type of "Wife".

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