Every time my kids hear a siren or see a fire truck go by, they immediately think it’s their daddy. In their eyes, he is a hero. Yes, there certainly is a Hollywood side to being a firefighter. What are some of the things no one talks about when you’re part of a fire family?
My husband and I have been together for over nine years and this life has definitely taken some getting used to. We’ve had tough moments, tears, and lots of “see ya soon”, but at the end of the day, this is our life and we wouldn’t change it for anything.
You learn to create your own version of normal
Fire families are kind of a different breed of people. We are really good at making adjustments at the last minute or using our time together really wisely. In December, Ryan selects leave for the following year.
He has to look at a calendar and select dates that we “anticipate” going on vacation. Major holidays and summers are usually snagged early so we create our own time slots to spend together.
Sometimes Christmas is celebrated a few days before or a few days after. Birthdays are extended a week and anniversaries? I’m sorry what are those? Kidding, we try to fit those in too.
Not everyone understands this life
Not every day is a walk in the park for a firewife, and those are the things no one talks about when you’re part of a fire family. The stretch of long days while they are away, aren’t always made up for in the days when they are home. Time always somehow seems to speed up when they’re home and we inevitably spend half of our most precious moments in life…apart.
For us, there is no end date in sight. Unless you’re counting down the stretch to retirement, and there are times I look ahead to all of the moments in my kids’ lives that Ryan will miss. And my heart breaks.
What’s one of the worst things you can say to a firewife? For me, it’s, “Wow, it must be nice to have your husband home for three days straight.” Or, “Your husband is at work again?”
And then there’s always that one person who always comments about the “imaginary husband” we have because they never seem to show up at social events.
Yeah, that kind of makes some of us want to punch people in the face.
The Big Lesson
No but seriously, being a firewife has taught me a very big lesson when it comes to looking at other people’s lives with a microscope. I just don’t do it.
Unless I have lived a literal day in someone else’s shoes, I try really hard not to make assumptions about how hard, easy, or stressful their situation is. I know that others have it much harder than I do, and there are families who would give up their circumstances for one day in our life.
Military wives, farmer’s wives, LEO wives…they all deserve a medal in my book. And single moms? I was raised by one, so in my opinion, there is a special place in heaven for those mamas.
Our family hasn’t spent a Christmas together in three years because of station changes. It feels empty and incomplete when we celebrate without him home. But fire wives are the best at putting a smile on and carrying on with tradition despite the absence of our favorite sidekick.
Readjusting to dad being home can be tough
Of course, we love when our firefighters come home. For me, there is an actual sigh that comes out of my mouth the second Ryan walks through the door at 8:47 am after a shift. It’s like, I miss you, I love you, I’m exhausted, I need a break, here are the kids, mom’s out…all in one breath.
But there is also a readjustment period that occurs. During shifts, the kids and I have a routine and it’s pretty strict. School drop off and pick up, meals, sports practices, gymnastics, and bedtime routines run like a well-oiled machine. When dad is home, it’s slightly thrown off.
Firewives who are reading this know exactly what I am talking about. Sometimes Ryan wants to be “fun dad” to make up for the time he was away, and the kids don’t always adjust well to a change in discipline and routine.
But it’s something we have gotten better at over the years and I’m lucky to have a husband who I can communicate well with. It’s a team effort, and while we aren’t perfect, we try really hard to make it work for everyone with as few tears as possible.
But sometimes you have to be both parents
I wouldn’t describe myself as a handyman…handywoman? But I have had to learn the tricks of the trade in order to fix, mend, build, and impersonate Power Rangers while dad is away at the station. I may not be the best superhero, but I sure do give it my all.
Wives are usually the unsung heroes
Firewives are the first to take pride in our husbands and their work. We show up to the station with perfectly baked goods, we beam with pride when they get pinned as captain, we dress up for the balls, and we hold down the fort during the long and grueling fire season.
But we are rarely recognized for our work. Firefighters are true heroes, but so are their wives. And most of the time it’s a thankless job for us.
The loneliness can be overwhelming
Nights are by far the hardest for me when Ryan is at the station. When he’s home and the kids are tucked away in bed, it’s the one time we have together that is quiet and spent without interruption.
Date nights at fancy restaurants have been replaced by popcorn and Game of Thrones on the couch. But Ryan is my best friend and my love language is spending time with him in laughter and conversation, regardless of where we are.
On shift days, when all is quiet in the house, I crave having him home to share the details of the day with. Sometimes as a fire wife, it feels as though you have spent every ounce of your free time caring for others and making sure their needs are met, with little attention to your own. For me, at night when I’m lying in our big bed alone, my heart aches to have him home.
Friends become family
As I look back over the last nine years in this crazy life, one of the greatest gifts we have been given is our #firefamily.
A group of incredible souls who understand this crazy life we live, because they’re living it right alongside us. We step up and step in for one another when life gets tough. We congregate at station dinners we delight in making fun of our husbands and their ridiculous antics. Fire wives become like the sisters you never knew you needed.
The uniforms are super hot
Ok ok I couldn’t possibly write this post about the things no one talks about when you’re a firewife and not mention the uniform.
Even if it is talked about often. Whether it’s bunker gear or dress blues, there’s just something about that uniform that is sexy. Plain sexy. Maybe it’s the hero effect, maybe it’s the whole “man in uniform” thing. Either way, it’s a perk of the trade. And the only thing sexier than the uniform is when the uniform smells faintly of fire smoke.
Good thing we are done having kids, because we may have ended fire season 2018 as a family of 6.
There may be things that no one talks about when you’re a part of a fire family. It’s not because we are ashamed or looking for extra sympathy. It’s because this is our normal. It’s our way of life.
We march on, we keep our families moving, and we stick close to one another. We may not receive any awards for our part in keeping our fire families together, we are by far some of the mightiest women in the business.
We certainly are #firewifestrong
Megan Rix is a former at-risk high school English teacher turned stay at home mama, lifestyle blogger, and entrepreneur. After leaving the classroom to focus on being a mama, she needed a place to document the life of her very strong-willed child and what she realized along the way were all the things in her life that “anchored” her. A love for food, beauty, family, and giving back to others helped shape the blog as it looks today. Follow her on Instagram @thisanchoredlife and her blog site www.thisanchoredlife.com.