I’m starting to think that maybe I’m the crazy one. You know why? Because I actually do love this commercial fishing way of life, and I always have. Maybe it’s because it is five-generations deep in my blood, or because this is the way I grew up, or because this is the way my relationship with George has gone since the day I met him. Hey, he was already a captain when we met, and I was writing for National Fisherman magazine. Commercial fishing is what we do.
That’s not to say it is an easy way of life. It is extremely difficult at times. George misses us when he is far away at sea, and we miss George when he is gone. But we don’t wallow, complain, or otherwise bemoan his work or our lifestyle. On the contrary, we thrive in it. We enjoy the coming and the going, the thrill of the hunt. It keeps things fresh and exciting. As for the things that don’t go well or the seasons that are more difficult–we work through them, and they make us stronger as individuals and as a family.
Our toddler, Eva, is excited that her daddy is a fisherman. She knows that he is “at work” on the boat in Westport or Alaska, catching crab or some other kind of fish. We don’t make a big show of sadness at George’s departures, even if that’s how we feel. Eva talks to George on the phone each time he calls, and George and I keep our conversations brief and upbeat whenever possible. That is what sets the tone for the house and the kids. I learned the strategy from my own parents, who taught by consistent example in all of these areas.
No, it isn’t easy being home alone. I do have a lot of anxiety and I feel overwhelmed at times. (The issue of childcare and the solo parent will be the subject of an upcoming post!) But I seek help when I need it, and I refuse to complain about George’s work or our way of life. I’m proud of George and what he does, just as I was proud of my dad and what he did, and of my mom and what she did. We’re all doing what we need to do to find fish, pay bills, raise children, and run a household.
It’s a lifestyle that is unpredictable and sometimes lonely. One can become unnerved by that, or one can rise above and be grateful that at the very least, his or her life is never stale or boring. Something new is always around the bend, whether it’s a new season, a homecoming, a departure, a vacation, or any other thing. There are always new stories to share, laughs to be had, and long-awaited hugs to receive. I wouldn’t trade or wish it any other way.