I know you’ve felt it before. That sharp, prickly sense that crawls up your spine when your husband comes home and starts ruining your routine. The routine you have meticulously crafted over the years to be able to function to the highest efficiency while on your own. The routine that you and the kids rely on for survival and happiness. The routine that simultaneously gives you order and grants you freedom from the unstructured chaos that is constantly chasing you.
I have dubbed it, The Bristle.
Omg that’s not what we were supposed to have for dinner tonight! That’s for Wednesday! I promised the kids we were going to have chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight! Great, now what am I supposed to tell them?
What is the baby wearing!?!? Is that… Is that her church dress? Omg it’s like 3 months too small and we’re going to dinner, not a wedding. Yeesh, now I have to change her myself – again!!
Why are these plates in this cupboard?! Am I the only one who knows where the plates go around here?! Is it that hard?!
It’s bedtime – I told him it was bedtime 30 minutes ago so he could put the kids to bed and I could finally shower. Aaaand the kids are still up. UGH.
He went to the grocery store and didn’t get half of what we need because he didn’t ask for my list! Seriously?!
Being a pilot wife, there is a certain amount of self-sufficiency and autonomy that is a must with this lifestyle. You have to be able to juggle, multitask, plan, un-plan when necessary, manage a household by yourself, and do things on your own. You have to be efficient and organized, and very independent. Or you will go insane.
So when we use all of that awesome independence and superhuman strength to do it all while our husbands are gone, it can feel a bit, well, unnatural to step aside and become a partnership again. Basically, we’ve gotten so good at being independent that we’ve forgotten to include our husbands. And this is why we feel The Bristle. Of course we miss them while they are gone, and also look forward to them coming home – but that doesn’t make the melding together again easy.
I spend at least a day before his trip starts gearing myself up for being in charge while he’s going to be gone. I use self-talk and post-it notes mostly. And wine. I need to plan out my week and schedule things, but I also have to mentally prepare for being the alpha dog. When he’s gone, it’s just me. He can’t help me from 2,000 miles away, and we all know that’s when shit happens.
At some point, (usually when our husbands get home) we have to step back and let things go. And I don’t know about you, but that is scary for me. Plus, I just handled ALL OF THE THINGS and now he’s supposed to just take over? Ha! As someone who has always worked better alone than in groups, I get irritated at this concept.
And, hello?! My way is obviously the best way. Isn’t that why he married me? Isn’t that why, after being married for years, we decided to make little people together and leave me in charge while he’s gone?! This is the type of thinking that gets me in trouble. And it’s something I strive to change. Hey, you can’t change if you don’t acknowledge first, right?
Letting go is hard, but it’s also necessary. If I’m in charge all the time, it’s now a dictatorship, not a partnership. And that’s not good for anyone (even though sometimes it seems like an awesome idea). Plus, I really do need to share the responsibility – no one can manage things themselves all the time. It’s exhausting. (God bless you single mamas everywhere. You are in my thoughts always.)
We need to calm down a bit, and loosen up. (And by “we” I mean me. It just makes me feel better to surround myself with imaginary friends I can share the blame with.) So the dishes aren’t put away perfectly. Does it hurt anyone? No. Plus, at least my husband put the dishes away. I usually plop them in the sink for a good month or so first. (They’re soaking. They need to soak.)
So the baby is wearing clothes that don’t fit and are mismatched. Does it matter? A little. I’m not gonna lie. It hurts me inside, but I can still let it go. He tried.
So the kids will go to bed a little later than normal, is it going to kill them? No. But I should probably let him know how important a consistent bedtime is for them.
The common theme I’ve noticed is that a majority of these issues stem from a lack of communication. Mostly on my part. As much as I would like to, I can’t expect my husband to read my mind and know what’s been going on for the past few days. I may have forgotten to mention that it’s Spirit Day at preschool, so how would he know what shirt my son was supposed to wear? And maybe if I posted the grocery list and our weekly mean plan, he would be better prepared to go to the store. It might also help him avoid my laser death stare of imperative doom when he returns.
Communication is essential.
So, how can we avoid The Bristle?? I’ve been trying a few new tricks to help out our family, and hopefully it will help you, too.
Just like I prepare myself for my husband to leave, I need to prepare myself for when he comes home. I make a pile of mail that is important for him to look at on the counter, as well as any school flyers or announcements. It’s kind of like a “we need to discuss this stuff” pile that we go through when he comes back. I also write things down and take notes of things we need to talk about when he gets home. Sometimes it’s random, funny stuff, and sometimes it’s important stuff. Either way, it helps immensely.
Keep Him In-The-Know
I just found something so amazing, so awesome, and so remarkably simple that I can’t WAIT to share it with you!!! It’s an app called AnyList, and it’s a life saver! Basically, you make lists and share them with whoever you want. You can make a to-do list, a grocery list, a chore list, or even a sexy wish list (bam!). (By the way, I am in no way affiliated with or paid by this app, I just love it!)
Here’s a mini grocery list I sent my husband before he left for his trip. I love that you can cross things off as you go or just erase them! He can also make changes, and my phone gets a notification. Imagine the possibilities! This just opens up another way for us to communicate, I can’t say no to that. It’s been awesome so far!
Step Back and Let Go
This is my new mantra. I need to take a breath, and relax. Remind myself that it’s ok to ask for help, or even to need it. (Gasp!) It’s ok to let someone share the burden of the household responsibilities and kid stuff. And it’s ok to mess it up. You heard me. Now it’s in writing so I can’t go back. It’s ok to mess it up. I’m not perfect. And I shouldn’t expect that things are always going to be done perfectly, or the way I want them to. I married my husband for a reason; to share my life with. Ok, there might be a few more, but that’s a big one. So I need to be a better sharer. Step back, and let go.
Do you have any tips on avoiding The Bristle? I would love to hear them! Comment below and we can discuss!
The Flight Wife