My dearest pilot child,
I am writing this to let you know that I hear you. I hear the beat of your heart when it quickens as your ears perk up at the familiar sounds of leaving. The suitcase wheels’ little squeaks as they roll, the tapping of shoes against the floor, the jingling of keys and the other hurried noises of needing to leave on time.
I hear the disappointment in your voice as you say goodbye – again. But you put on such a brave face, little one. Sometimes you run outside to watch the car leave, sometimes you run to the window to wave, and sometimes you don’t get up from the couch because you don’t feel like it today. And that’s ok. Sometimes I get tired of saying goodbye, too.
And I hear the silence as we switch gears into us without Daddy for a few days. It takes a little while, every time, before we find our groove. But we find it.
I also hear the excitement in your voice when you ask me who I’m talking to on the phone and I hand it to you. Sometimes you have a lot to say, and sometimes I think you just want to hear a familiar voice because it’s calming.
I hear you ask me daily when Daddy is coming back, and I remind you every day how many days are left. We don’t dwell on it, you and I, because we are busy with our day and with our routine. But it’s always there in the back of our minds.
And I hear you when you ask if you can sleep with me that you’re not really asking because you’re scared – you’re asking because it makes you feel less alone and more secure. And so I scoot over and let you under the covers because child independence be damned, if I can make you feel less alone you can bet I will. You make me feel less alone, too.
I want you to know that your daddy never stops thinking about you. Never. When he finishes a long day of flying and he’s going to sleep in a strange bed in some hotel, he’s wishing he could be tucking you in and reading your favorite story instead. I can promise you that when he’s flying an airplane and helping all those people get to where they’re going, he’s wondering how your day at school is going and if you’re safe. He misses your voice, and your hugs, and mostly your laugh. Every time he goes on a trip he can’t wait to come back home and see you again.
I want you to know about the people he is flying in that airplane. Because you don’t get to see them – but some of them are mommies and daddies too, and they are going home to see their kids again, or sometimes they are leaving their kids. Sometimes they are kids whose mommies and daddies live far away from each other; but you know who is helping them get there? That’s right, that’s your daddy. Some of those passengers are going to visit their families, and some of them are going to work, and some of them are going on vacation. But none of them could get to where they’re going without your daddy flying the plane. He is so important to his job, and he is very good at it. But you need to know that it’s not the most important thing to him – as much as he loves his job, he loves you even more.
I hear the laughter and excitement that bubbles over when you know that Daddy is coming home. And I can’t pretend I don’t love your squeals of joy when he walks through the door and picks you up, first thing. I hear the importance of all of us being together to you when you tell us that it’s family hug time and ask if we’re all eating dinner together that night. I know that sometimes you just need to hear “yes” to feel secure.
Not everyone gets to have their daddies around for days at a time when they are off. We always have so much fun when we’re all together, because we know that we need to take advantage of our family time with each other. And I know you love when he takes you to school, and goes to your holiday parties, and takes you to swim lessons. He’s one of the few daddies who is there. When he’s home, he loves doing those things with you. Even I don’t get to go to some of your school activities because of my work. But if Daddy is home, he is always there.
I want you to know how hard we try to make things as normal as we can. I know you like to keep track of our schedule so that you know what to expect. And I can tell you that we will always do our very best for our family, because it is the most important thing to us. Sometimes we worry about how this will all affect you, and if we’re doing it right. We worry about spending enough time with you, and whether the lessons we are trying to teach you will stick. We worry all the time that we are messing it up and making mistakes and doing it wrong. We feel guilty that it’s not enough, that we are not enough. But we will never stop trying to do the right thing. You are so very loved, and that is true no matter where Daddy is.
I want you to know that we are always listening. We will always be here to listen to you. We know that it’s not easy having a daddy who leaves sometimes, but you know what? He always comes back again. And he is so excited to see you.
Our life and our schedule may not seem normal, but it’s our normal. Thank you for being so brave, and for hanging in there right alongside us. We are in this together.
The Flight Wife