Fall Means Transition Time for the Commercial Fishing Family

It’s definitely that time of year again…fall. I see the wind blowing leaves all over the neighborhood and I stand in the window, watching white caps roar across the bay. The rain pours, the kids are in school, and George is long gone down to the harbor and the boat in preparation for the Dungeness crab season.

When the fisherman returns to work, whether he’s at sea or just down at the harbor, it’s a somewhat annoying transition for us here at home. Commercial fishing wives everywhere know what I’m talking about! Our husbands are technically “home,” but not home. They’re home, but distracted. They’re home, but not available.

In the last couple of weeks, G and I have had a succession of conversations like this:

Me: “Oh! I see you’re going to work this morning. Can you run the big kids to school on your way so I can stay here with the baby?”

G: “I can take one, but not two. I’m driving the flatbed.”

Me: “I’m getting a ‘low tire pressure’ message in my car. Can you meet me at the tire place so I can get it fixed without sitting there with the baby for three hours?”

G: “Um, I can’t today. Or tomorrow. Maybe Thursday. Oh, wait. I can’t then, either.”

Me: “Well, great. Then I guess my tire will just explode while I’m on the freeway.”

Me: “Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”

G: “Uh, at some point. I don’t know when.”

Yep. That time of year has definitely arrived. Summer, as phenomenal as it was, is a distant memory. Time to forge ahead through the next nine months of fishing so we can get to next summer. The best bet is to jump on board (so to speak) and accept that it’s that time of year again and adjust accordingly.

I sat down and made some notes this weekend on how I can maneuver this adjustment so that I don’t feel resentful and bummed out. Actually, I didn’t sit down. I walked around the house holding my iPhone and baby Valerie while I talked to Siri, my faithful assistant, who took dictation. Here’s what we came up with:

1.  Get up thirty minutes before everyone else in the house. This way, I can sit in peace and quiet for a few moments and mentally gear up for the day ahead before the questions, demands, and obligations of a busy family set in.

2.  Create a schedule that works. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know this is a big one for me. Last year, the schedule I created for the children and me was not a success. I was determined to do better this year. So far, it has worked very well. I have, however, run into one glitch surrounding the day and time of Eva’s dance class. After two weeks, I knew it was not going to work for me or our family of young children throughout the stormy fall and winter ahead. So, I had to make the tough choice and switch dance studios. The good news is that Eva still gets to attend dance, and we’ll all be home for dinner at a normal time.

3.  Plan dinners, however loosely. G is the better cook at our house, so when he’s home, he enjoys preparing most of our dinners. Now that he is not available to do that, it’s my task. I hauled out my cookbooks, Pampered Chef stoneware, crockpot, and visited the store to buy the kinds of things I know how to make. So far, so good. I don’t plan an official menu for the week, but I do have some idea of what we’ll be having. I’ve even cooked the dinner ahead of time on some days when I had a moment, and warmed it up at dinnertime.

4.  Cozi. I am still in love with the Cozi app. It saw us through an entire summer of doctor appointments and trip schedules, and I am using it now to enter in the kids’ activities and my own appointments. I enter our appointments in the Cozi calendar wherever I am, and G and I can both easily reference what’s going on each day. He can double-check the day and time choir, dance, speech therapy, etc. are on, and there are no “I didn’t know that was today!” surprises.

5.  Don’t count on help from spouse. I can’t rely on G or assume he will be around to help out with meals, pick-ups, drop-offs, or anything else. He’s back to work, and it saves me a lot of frustration if I accept that. I must outsource other help if I need it, or simply do it myself. I’m lucky that George is so helpful when he’s home; but when he’s not, I have to quickly transition.

6.  Keep the house warm and smelling good. This creates a feeling of coziness and relaxation. I’ve put Scentsy burners in every room of the house. I don’t turn them all on at once, but they are there in case I want them. If I’m working in the living room, I turn that one on. If I’m folding laundry in the bedroom, I turn on that one. Watching TV in the family room? I plug in that one. I read recently that if you are prone to anxiety, the scent of Jasmine will work like a valium in promoting calm. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m going to.

7.  Plan time wisely. I have about ninety minutes of “free time” three days a week, when Valerie is napping and I’m not running kids around. I have to decide what to do in that time. Learn new Jazzercise routines to teach? Write a blog post? Flop on the couch? Return e-mails? Once I decide, I need to stick with the decision and not spend the ninety minutes flipping from one task to the next and accomplishing nothing.

8.  Most past failures. If I’ve hit a roadblock, a glitch, forgotten something, or otherwise, I just forget it and move quickly forward. Hey, we’re not new at this, and we’ve got a long nine months ahead to try again and do better. Plenty of time!

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Comments

  1. The dreaded transition. The home, but not home dilemma. Yep, this happens at our house too. And now that our son is 3 years old and asking questions, I am struggling to find answers. Just this week J asked me why his little friend’s daddy is home and his is not. I was stumped. Telling him that daddy is fishing for our family only goes so far before I feel like I am burdening my little one with things he doesn’t need to worry about (ie., money, bills, etc.). It’s never easy trying to explain our life.

  2. Such a hard time for all of us. When Zed is gone fishing I keep myself going by telling myself that eventually he will be home and I will have another adult to help/give me a break. So that first week he is home is the hardest for me because I get so excited to have someone to help me, but he is always busy and the realization hits me that I’m not going to get help afterall. The disappointment can be so crushing. I have found It is better to just keep the mentality that I will be parenting on my own for the foreseeable future. Avoid the disappointment.

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