Sunday, November 18, 2012

inescapable firefighting facts

It's been a very long time since I've written about firefighter anything.  I know it's on my title and everything, but we're probably one of those oddities who don't choose to be defined by the fire service.

For example, if you walk into our house, there are not going to be shelves upon shelves of red engines and ceramic reproductions of cute animals in turnouts. I can't resist some stuff. . . I have an antique fire extinguisher that is silver and turquoise in our dining room. That's cool; although I'd probably like it even if my husband were a . . . rancher or something. I have this photo of Daniel blown up and framed in our kitchen. But that is about it.

And then there is the fact that Daniel hadn't wanted to be a firefighter since he was a little boy. . . it was actually a career change idea for him as he was going into college. He was already running a successful lawn care business and enjoying the freedom of self employment; then some sort of accident happened at a camp he was working at. He told me (yes, I was hanging on his every word) that he watched everybody run away from the accident to get help and he was struck with his helplessness and that he didn't want to run away from tragedy. So he started researching the fire service and loved it.  But it wasn't what he'd always planned to do. 

However, even if you don't put f/f plates on your vehicle and have a maltese cross on your return address labels, there are some parts about being with a firefighter that are just inescapable.

If you're married to one, you know what they are.

It's the ability to talk about the hilarious unbelievable stuff they see and the inability to talk about how they're doing when they've heard last words said and made tough decisions and been up all night with paperwork.

It's the days off when no one else has days off (love hearing Daniel slip up every once in awhile and ask a nine-to-fiver to do lunch on a Monday afternoon).  It's the days on when it seems everyone else is off. 

It's watching ridiculously juvenile bickering between co-workers and then seeing the crazy loyalty and care they give each other.

It's thinking I understand what my husband faces and then realizing I don't.

Last week in the grocery store this crazy psycho lady kept following me around and wanting to chat.  I know the love of Jesus should have been flowing through me, but all I could think was

you are gross


 get away from me and my kids. 

While the kids and I chose frozen pizza for our Friday night movie, she told me why she was a  much better mom than me and I consoled myself that if the problem continued I would make her the store manager's problem. 

As I escaped her with my little chickies I was suddenly struck that not only has my husband probably seen this woman, his job is to kneel down next to her and assess her real or imagined injury, to treat her with dignity and respect, to be kind and compassionate and firm and tough. 

Yep, I couldn't do that, not outspoken me.  I'd be like okay, let's everybody that's not in uniform here go take a bath in the bathroom and then come out in clean clothes and we'll see what the problem is.

Chalk it up to one more thing I don't get.

I remember telling Daniel once that one of kids threw up on me in the middle of a flu-weary night.  His response:  "Well,somebody threw up on me too.  But at least your incident was your own kid."  That definitely shut me up!

I thought about all of this tonight as I sat in the van at MFD and saw all the cool "boy stuff" our boys get to grow up with- the command SUVs in the parking lot and a dad who runs in when others run out.  I watched JD march his plate of cookies up the sidewalk, into the lobby, navigate the automatic doors and use my cell to call his dad.  I saw one of the doors fly open and both of their faces light up to see each other.  It's normal, just a normal job and then he comes out and says he hasn't sat down all day and I know that a 24 hour shift can seem a lot longer than that. 

intended for volunteers, i see a lot of humor in it for paid f/f personnel too

However there's nothing that defines you as a firefighter's wife like planning how to navigate a twenty-four hour shift worked over Thanksgiving.  (hashtag: couldn't be a military wife.)

I have a strict rule about special holidays without Daniel.  The rule is:  "DON'T REPLICATE THE REAL THING."  Trying is a joke.  I tried our very first Christmas.  I tried to pretend that it was the very same and I would just sneak down and have Christmas dinner with him at work.  It was snowy and cold and the minute they'd prayed for the food, alarms went off everywhere and they all went running for their engines and someone's emergency.

I went to Wal-Mart (bless them for being open) and bought a mystery and went home and tried to read it and cried in my little love nest. 

Late that night I blessed our decision to buy a house close to MFD and went down again (it's Christmas, people!).  We sat out in the bay and the life that my husband had chosen kinda sank in as I nibbled cold ham with paper towel napkins.  The scent of exhaust didn't smell too Christmasy.

After that miserable day, I vowed that

1) even though heaven knows I contribute plenty to the fd food pools, I wouldn't count on them for holiday dinner.  That was a hungry afternoon where I consumed a lot of chocolate (thanks Wal-Mart) and thought alot about Mom's mashed potatoes

2) I wasn't going to try and do a 'mini Christmas' at home by myself with whatever future kids we'd dream up  cook up have (who wants to cook turkey for three?)

3) I wouldn't go running home to my Mom without him either.  I'd picked him and his life and I'd stay in town if just to be able to see him on that holiday

(yes this is alot of planning from a non planning person. I had a lot of time that day, what can I say?)

4) We'd do something *fun*  and creative and *different.*  Something out of the ordinary, crazy and wild and a bit indulgent and then go see him at night and be happy to see him  and not weepy.  In the recesses of my memory I had heard of a [really nice] family who always went to McDonald's on Christmas because it was their own crazy fun tradition.  While I found that idea scandalous for a normal family holiday, it definitely fit the bill for Christmas/Thanksgiving-sans-husband.

Well this plan has worked fabulously for several Christmases.  We have had sledding parties, we have eaten ten different kinds of Christmas cookies for a meal, we have gone to a 24 hour 365 store and bought whatever we jolly well pleased to eat, we have stayed in pajamas until 2 pm, we have watched Christmas movies together in bed and it has been fun. 

This year working Thanksgiving is unavoidable and so we miss  the holiday spent with my family.  If I think about it I get teary so we're in planning mode. 

Apparently I'm making pies for the guys (it even rhymes) and then the kids and I are taking stuff up to the Children's Hospital for a reality check (guess who really wishes Thanksgiving were different) and to think outside our selfish boxes. Our to be determined super fun indulgent activity is still being discussed.  I have some good ideas. 

It will be thankful and fun and the best part will be Daniel getting off at 7am on Friday and sneaking in on the tail end of the annual family black Friday breakfast and going on out to Mom and Dad's farm for the rest of the holiday.

But even with all that balancing and stress, I gotta say there is one thing I really enjoy about being married to a career firefighter.  And that is evenings alone.  After the kids are in bed, I can read as late as I want, clean, catch up on life with my sisters, watch Parenthood (love that show) and even make coffee (again). 

New Station 2.
P.S. Nothing like 7 year old photographers to make you wanna diet! 

Open House with Daddy. . .

Jacob is shooting down the flames- hinged windows actually.  Very cool simulation. 
Cuz if I weren't married to a firefighter there would definitely not be a blog- the only times I write are when he's on duty.  :)  Allrightyyyy. . . the zzzzs are calling me. 


  1. i sat here laughing at the bath comment...enough that allyn looked up from his reading. Again busted out laughing at the 7 year old photographers comment. I like you. great thots. You do a beautiful job communicating what whirls through a woman's mind. - Em

  2. I Love this post and yes you could be a military wife if that's what God wanted you to be :) I love that you're going to the Children's Hospital, Bless Your Hearts! Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving however you celebrate!

  3. Love this. I LOVE Parenthood too!!! Best show ever.

  4. I've been reading your blog for awhile...I can't remember how exactly I found it...but I wanted to say that I love how you've chosen to handle holidays when Daniel works. Before the baby I worked in healthcare and spent quite a few holidays on call/in the hospital, and there is no easy way to handle that--whether you're the one working, or the family members left behind. Even though my husband has holidays off and I'm no longer working, I'm trying to dream up ways to incorporate "different" and "creative" into our holiday traditions. PS: Love the Children's Hospital idea, we were in the hospital with Baby Girl over July 4th and visitors would have made our day!

  5. LOVED your post!! My husband works full time EMS and is also on the volunteer fire dept and I understand completely about just sitting down to a nice meal and then someone's emergency takes over!!! We are expecting our first baby in February and I definitely want to keep your rule in mind and not try to replicate the real thing when Daddy has to work on holidays. A hearty AMEN to being able to have my man around on weekdays, and I LOVE my evenings alone....that's when I really get things accomplished:-) Love your blog....