Creating Happier Homecomings

At long last, I’m pleased to announce that my e-book, “Captain of Her Crew: The Commercial Fishing Mom’s Guide to Navigating Life at Home,” will officially launch on Monday, July 9, 2012.  I’ve put my best advice concerning the commercial fishing family lifestyle into one place after six years of receiving thoughtful questions, comments, and concerns by attentive readers to this blog.

As it turns out, I’m my first official consumer of the e-book.

Yep, you read correctly. Me.

My husband, George, recently returned home after five months at sea. As always, the initial homecoming is phenomenal; absolutely nothing compares to the thrill of watching our fishing vessel steam into the harbor, seeing G in the wheelhouse, waving to the guys on deck, and hearing my children squeal with joy at the sight of their dad.

There is an exciting week of lunches and visits at the harbor during post-season gear work. There’s laughs with the crew and forklift rides up and down the dock for my four-year-old, Vincent. At night, I have another adult at home who doesn’t need constant direction or the repeating of instructions. Eva has another lap upon which to sit and read books. Hey, it’s a party! It’s awesome, it’s sunny, it’s everything we hoped it would be and more!

But then, the gear work comes to an end. The dreary rain returns. The crew goes home. My children, overwhelmed and exhausted by a change in routine and a new face in the house, begin to misbehave. Mom realizes that Dad can’t be as helpful as she’d hoped with an infant who doesn’t yet know him.

This is what I call the transition period, and it’s something I address in the e-book in a chapter called “Creating Happier Homecomings.”

Here’s the passage I found particularly useful:

Give each other space. Your husband needs to get used to being home and you need to get used to having him home again. Adjustment periods vary from season to season or even year to year. They can take no time at all or they may take a week or two. You might spend an entire season off never getting in sync again. Don’t agonize if this is the case; life is cyclical.

The inability to get acclimated is something that will eventually cycle through, and it will be better next time. Or the time after that.

Do your best to include Dad in the family when he comes home; he needs to assimilate back into family life. If he wants to clean or cook or tuck the kids in bed and read them stories, let him. His ways of doing things and the activities he enjoys with the children may be different from yours, but compromise and remain flexible.

I do believe this about sums it up. G has been away from our family for many months in a row catching crab, halibut, and blackcod. He’s tired and accustomed to a totally different environment and totally different people.  It must be overwhelming in so many ways. And I’m tired, too. End-of-school activities and ballet recitals and soccer camps and all-night baby feedings are exhausting.

I think that giving each other space, while remaining appreciative and respectful of each other, is the way to go about it. There is a fun summer ahead and we have been waiting for months and months to enjoy it together as a family. The key now is to try and do just that.


  1. I really like how you describe this as “…life one fishing season at a time.” Because that’s how this life really is! It seems as though life really does revolve around the seasons. I jokingly say Jon is our Whirlwind when he’s home, making sure we experience as much as we absolutely can with him in the short time between seasons. But I can honestly say our “transition” has never been a negative. He never fails at jumping right back into the swing of things like he was never away. The youngest of our five is two now, and has never regarded him as a stranger upon his homecoming. I believe this is because every single season before he leaves, we record a video message to each of the kids so they can see his face and hear his voice whenever they want. (For the toddler girls, this pretty much means every single night! :)) For mommy though, well…some days are easier than others and loneliness can be hard to deal with up here in the mountains, isolated. So thank you, for sharing your experiences, a voice I can relate to. I look forward to the Ebook!
    Happy to hear your hubby has returned safely! Three more weeks for me! :-)

    • Hi! That’s great; only three more weeks to go! Thanks for your comment. I think you guys have more energy than we do, lol. Whirlwind and jumping into things is definitely not our style, ha! I don’t see transition time as a negative, just an opportunity for each of us to slow down and integrate healthily back into one life and one home together after spending so much of it separate.

      My two older kids definitely don’t regard their dad as a stranger. We take lots of videos, voice memos, and even book recordings so they can hear and see dad all the time. I have a map of Alaska on the wall alongside a picture of G and the boat so they always know why he’s gone and what he’s doing. They are so excited when he comes home!

      My five-month-old, though, is a different story, since G had to leave right after she was born and he heasn’t gotten a chance to hold and bond with her much yet. I’m looking forward to watching that relationship develop over the next few months.

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