So, you want to be friends with a pilot’s wife? Welcome to the dark side, we have wine! But first, I have to let you in on a few “insider” secrets. We can be complicated, and sometimes being friends with us takes a little more work than “normal”. Many people don’t understand our lifestyle (I mean, it’s not that unconventional, we don’t have a special on TLC – yet, anyway) and all that comes with being friends with us. It can be confusing keeping up with it all, so here are a few things you should know so that you don’t think we’re crazy.
We are alone. A lot.
When our husbands are gone, it’s usually for days (sometimes weeks) at a time. This means we do everything – and I mean everything – while he’s gone. So if we don’t answer the phone or your texts right away, it usually means we are wrangling up kids or trying to concoct something edible or attempting to take a shower while we have 5 minutes by ourselves. Don’t take it personally.
We aren’t loaded.
I know, I know. We’re pretty sad about it too. But alas, it’s the truth. While a good number of pilots make a decent living, the majority are nowhere near rolling in it. In fact, some are even near poverty level, especially in the early stages of their careers. (Just in case you don’t believe me, read this.)
So if you see us using coupons, or mentioning how we’re on a budget, it’s the truth.
We can’t plan six months from now.
Our lives are dictated by our husband’s schedule, as hard as that is to admit. We can still plan around him (and usually do, to save our sanity) if we want to do things without him, but asking us if we can go with you as a couple to that concert in the spring or if we’ll be available for a weekend trip six months from now can get tricky.
It works like this: pilots have seniority based on their hire date. They bid for monthly schedules, and are awarded their schedule based on their position on the roster. So they can try to get certain days off, but it’s never guaranteed. When they actually find out their schedule is also a factor, as this can range from 1-3 weeks before the month starts.
In short, if we say we don’t know their schedule yet, we really don’t. We know it’s frustrating; it frustrates us, too!
Speaking of not knowing things, no, we really don’t know where he is.
I know, this seems super weird right? How does anyone not know where their husband is? Again, it’s complicated. They can sometimes fly up to 8 or more cities a day, or even multiple countries a day. It would take spreadsheets, charts, and a whole lot of
vodka coffee to keep up with their schedules.
It’s kind of like asking you if you know exactly what your kid is doing every hour in school. You know your kid is at school, and you have an idea of when lunch is and you know when they’ll be home, right? Do you know where he is at 9:24 am? What class is he in at 11:48 am? How about at 1:37 pm? What do you mean you don’t know? Don’t you love your child?!
There’s no point in keeping track of every class when you know your child is at school. It’s the same for us. When he’s flying, he’s flying, and when he’s home, he’s home. If you grasp this concept, we’re going to be besties real quick.
Your stability means the world to us. And so does your flexibility.
Really, they do. Because in our chaotic world, nothing is better than knowing that there’s stability out there somewhere. Having the security that we can count on you if we have an emergency or accident is priceless to us, since it’s inevitable that things will happen when our husbands are gone. (Seriously, it’s called Pilot’s Law.) And being able to rely on you when we need someone is absolutely invaluable.
We also need friends who are flexible. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control (canceled flights, weather, other weird happenings that only seem to occur to piss us off) and it can mess up any plans we have last-minute. When you can roll with the punches like we have to, it’s a huge deal, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Please don’t stop inviting us – just understand if we can’t make it… again.
Just because we can’t make it this time doesn’t mean we can’t ever make it. We honestly try to make an effort, because we know that our friendship is a little more high-maintenance than others. Trust me; it bums us out when we can’t make it to events too.
Which is not to say that we won’t ever do things just because our husband isn’t home. On the contrary, a lot of times I make plans without my husband simply because I’m not going to stop living life just because he’s not there. There are plenty of times I’ve hired a sitter for girls’ night or a movie date with a friend. But sometimes, due to his job, it’s just impossible to do certain things. If I can come alone to a function, great, and if not, I’ll try to make it work.
Also, if you stand next to me at said BBQ and lovingly shove all the other people who joke that my husband must be make-believe, I’ll probably buy you something pretty.
There’s a plus side, I promise.
If you made it through all that and still want to be friends, you’re a keeper. Even though there’s a bunch I just listed that seems like a lot to put up with, pilot wives are a blast to be friends with. We’re not all the same, but we share a lot of similar characteristics. You’ll never find a more loyal friend, and every single pilot wife I know will jump at the chance to help others. (Mostly because if we find a good one, we don’t want to let go of your leg as you’re trying to leave. Wait… don’t go. Just stay five more minutes.)
We are adventurous and independent, we’re empathetic and we return favors like nobody’s business. (For a list of all the reasons why we’re pretty great, see this post.)
You volunteer to help out with our kids one night or bring over dinner? Friends for life. Expect that generosity to be returned to you tenfold. You know, right after we get through this 5-day trip.
And since having backup as a pilot’s wife is essential, if you’re a part of that team, thank you. We appreciate you sticking around more than you know.
Hey, you brought wine?!?! I can tell we’re going to be great friends already.
The Flight Wife