Wednesday, June 15, 2011


When my Dad was a Firefighter in NYC, he often worked 48 hour shifts. I remember being aware he was not with us, but not preoccupied by it. Really I think I was just not pleased being home with my Mom. She didn't like being left alone with all of us kids. She always seemed "tense". I get it now. When I have had too much time alone with the girls, I turn into the babysitter. Just barely making it to bedtime. Just trying to keep everyone somewhat managed, and safe." Tense" would describe me well.

I don't recall longing for my father while he was at work. I knew he would return, and looked forward to that. Memory is wrapped up in so many senses. For whatever reason, I always recall if the sun was shining or not, when looking back through time. If the leaves were green. If the cicadas were deafening that hot September night. Whether or not my Dad had shaved before leaving the firehouse. If he smelled like soap or smoke. His bear hugs, and laugh. The happy return. That is what stands out in my mind. Not the sad departure.

And my mother's relief. It was palpable. Our family unit, back together, safe. It always felt safe. I keep trying to put my self in the girls heads. How this separation will be for our family. How it will feel for them. What they will take through time from this. 6 months is a long time. Way longer than the 48 hour shifts that are my only point of reference. I fear the tension in my head that I know will come along with this. And the sadness, and the loneliness, and the fear.

But I am beginning to really welcome the good in this. Not just financial relief. That is, after all, why we are doing this. I want my girls to see their mother differently. Maybe a little lighter. Not always being the heavy. Not always saying no. I want the girls to see that I am capable of not just being their mother. But I can pick up the slack, and hold down the fort, and wear all of the hats, and every other cliche you can think of. I want them to know that I am capable of being so much more to them, than just this one role that I have cast myself as. I want us to get through this, and maybe, not be so sad about our time apart. I want us to enjoy our time together.

Maybe they can look back at this with a couple of really good memories. And a feeling of knowing they were safe.

 And one happy reunion.


  1. When I was about 4 or 5, my dad took a job that was going to move us to Ohio, from where we lived in Penn. He started work out there and we were going to move when the house sold. We got used to him only being around on the occasional weekend. (He was also in the National Guard). I remember he came in one Tuesday night, during the Tonight Show (my mom would let me sleep in front of the tv, I guess to keep her company) with the news that he had just lost his job. He was out of work for over a year. That summer, he went active with the guard and was stationed in GA for the summer. We lived on a farm and my mother had to keep it going with me and my sister, who was about year old. I'm sure it was hard for her, but just like you, the financial relief probably made it easier for her to get through. We did get through and when he got home, he found a new job, a better job. You can do this.

  2. I think you have already said it best, "One happy reunion." 6 months is a long time, but it will pass quickly. I travel a lot, 2, sometimes 3 weeks a month. It is hard, but even if I only get to go home for a quick weekend trip, it is well worth my effort, knowing that I am doing this so that one day we can spend every night together...