At a Commercial Fishing Mother Crossroads

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for a while, or you have read my e-book (also available in paperback) then you know that about five years ago, I came to a crossroads. George was fishing a lot and not readily available to the kids or me. Eva (two at the time) was sick with staph and pneumonia, and I also had baby Vincent to care for. Our young dog, Toby, had been diagnosed with cancer.

Ugh. It was a lot, and I was starting to falter under the pressure. I had to make arrangements to ease my load and get some relief, and I did.

Everything went a lot better after that. Now, I’m at another crossroads. I feel again like I’m faltering under the pressure of being a seasonally single mother of three. I am vacuuming, mopping, attending events, returning phone calls and making appointments, reading e-mails, attending meetings, buying and wrapping Christmas presents, sending Christmas cards, hosting parties, opening mail, and making meals. 80% on my own.

George may be “here” but he’s not “here.” He’s at the harbor for ten or so hours each day, installing a huge and expensive new main engine on the boat, and this extra work has cut into his “home time” by three months. When you are married to a fisherman, he may be gone several months a year, but when he’s home, he’s usually “home”. Home to play with kids and help with shopping or even just watch TV. When your fisherman has been gone and then returns, yet he’s still not home, this causes a lot of strain.

I’m starting to get short of patience. I’m annoyed. When will we relax and enjoy the holiday? How lucky for the crew (whom I love and appreciate dearly), who always get to go home and have time off with their families while G still goes down to the boat each and every day to work. I can’t believe some of my girlfriends, who whine about how sick they are or how they couldn’t possibly get through a sick day on the couch without their husbands’ help.

Seriously? I was throwing up all day yesterday. I still had to get up and scrub toilets from sickness left over from my children. And I’m also nursing a baby and mopping floors and trying to organize Christmas alone.

If I sound annoyed, it’s because I am.

Just as I was five years ago, I’m at a crossroads.

In the New Year, I plan to reassess the areas I need extra help (regular housecleaning, for one) and create a new schedule that includes that help.

Mind you, I know how hard George is working. He’s not down at the boat sipping cocktails and laughing with his buddies. He’s crouched down, greasy and cramped, in an engine room. He’s sore and tired and equally as annoyed as me. I know he would rather be home with us than on the boat 24/7.

This is our life, and this is our reality. We live it and for the most part, we love it. The commercial fishing life has its rewards, to be sure.

But when the rewards seem fewer and further between, it’s time to reassess and adjust accordingly.


  1. Hang in there! Get the help you need, as you have in the past. Know and remind yourself that others of us out here “get” what you are going through. Al has been home a couple months now after being away for 7 months. He took a UPS seasonal job and does the Farmers market on Saturday. Sometimes we are up until midnight just discussing marketing ideas. We have to force ourselves to take down time. We decided not to have a holiday party this year though I am not working outside the home. The fishing family life is hard! Many do not understand the sacrifices and will compare our lives to that of military families. This is correct, to an extent. However, most military families have more support from each other, it is a much bigger group of people with intrinsic resources. A fishing family does it ALL. Jen, as your children get older some of the current challenges will ease up. They will get sick less often and that part gets better. Yet even as my children are getting older and more independent I have learned I still need to lower my expectations as to what I can do. Sometimes that becomes a matter of acceptance. I feel married to the boat and the business. And, in a way, that is the absolute truth. As it is for you. I was irritable today, too, though both my kids are healthy and were in school. I was home needing to do a ton of housework and I was lonely. Things need to change for us too, again. We fishing families are flexible like that. You are doing the right thing to reach out! Remember to breathe. Your family produces some of the best seafood in the world and G is immensely talented at what he does. Someday your precious children will understand that and there is no greater gift than when that realization hits. Fishing families are Strong. Maybe the strongest of all families. It takes an amazing wife to hold the fort down at home while a boat is being repowered and a husband is a fishing boat captain. You ARE that amazing wife to G. Your family provides such a beautiful gift of seafood to the world, and THAT is amazing too! Hugs to all of you – Peace, Light, & Love! Allan, Karla & Cody Richardson – F/V Saint Jude

  2. Keep up the great work Jen! This really hit home for me today, I feel like we’re on the same dock and it’s so valuable to recognize your needs. The biggest help for me later has been the kids getting older (10, 8, 5)…how much more they’re willing and able to contribute.

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