Perfect Chaos

Can I tell you a frank secret? Because you are, after all, my people…

I got up this morning and he was gone. I reached for him, but he wasn’t there, and my heart did a sad little flip.

Sooooo I checked my messages to cheer me up. Big mistake. The first one I received this morning was from an angry man harshly criticizing me for running this site and for being a pilot wife. ‘I should be ashamed of myself,’ or so he boldly declared. He is not even in the aviation field—not even remotely connected—but he felt entitled to his bitter words and unjustifiable anger toward a complete stranger. You know, toward me.

I grumpily slammed down my phone, crawled out of bed, opened the door, and was met by absolute chaos. I glared around at all the piles of dirty laundry, unwashed dishes, and enough dust bunnies to start a new farm piled around after an exhaustingly busy weekend.

And yeah, friends, I felt tired…and a little lot discouraged.

For a fleeting moment, I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, I’m not the right one to do this for you—to be your encourager. Because today? I didn’t really want to be a pilot’s wife. I wanted my husband home in my arms, not jaunting around the country. I wanted mean people to stop saying mean things for the sake of meanness. And I wanted to not be forever and a day (or six) behind on life.

But then I realized that makes me the perfect person to do this for you—to be your encourager. Because I get it. This is #thepilotwifelife. It’s messy. Very! I have learned how to have lots of great days, but sometimes it’s still hard. Sometimes ‘those days’ creep in under the radar. I am, without a doubt, an imperfect, messed up, flaming hot mess.

And that makes me perfect for this, because I am real. I am perfect chaos.

I stopped and took a deep breath and realized something very important. Days like today help me help you better because my words? They’re not just empty words from an outside person but rather words of empathy from someone who has been there, done that. Recently. Like…right now, as we speak.

That gives me new perspective and makes me thankful for today. It makes me cherish the loneliness, the frustration, the real…because I know that it makes me a better advocate for you. It gives me real perspective. It helps me identify with you and your ‘those days.’

It makes me a real pilot’s wife. I love, love, love being a pilot’s wife and I love, love, love being able to encourage you. Because my chaos—your chaos—is perfectly beautiful.

I am convinced that we need this community. We need to know it’s okay to have ‘those’ days. We need to be able to lean on one another for encouragement and love and advice.

And we need to remind one another to keep F.L.Y.ing even when it’s hard or we don’t feel like it.

So I’m still here. And I still love you, aviation family. I’m not going anywhere, I promise. Well…except maybe to the grocery store because my kids are, apparently, not too keen on a(nother) dinner of lettuce and ketchup.

I love you, aviation family.

Tailwinds,

Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)

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30 thoughts on “Perfect Chaos

  1. There is a saying going around, Haters are going to hate. Do not let this hater get you down. As a light attendant for 30 years, I can’t tell you how many times I was told not to let the bad things people said get to me. It is hard sometimes, but you have to let it go. You have a loving family and airline family, so hold your head up and smile. In 20 years you won’t even remember this hater, but you will remember all of the people who love and encourage you.

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    1. This!! I love my aviation family. I wouldn’t trade all the haters in the world leaving me alone for missing out on the chance to speak into even one of your lives. It’s so worth it to me and I love you for reminding me.

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  2. After being a pilots wife approaching 38 years I can say it gets better… ok not always better but easier. You become a much more independent person if you weren’t already because when you walk into your family room and there is a baby rattle snake in the middle of the room and your husband isn’t home but your kindergartener is, you need to take care of business. Or when the pool filters quit working and they need to be changed and your husband is on a trip for 3 more days and if you don’t fix it it’s going to burn the motor out you figure out what needs to be done. Or when there is a 4 ft rattlesnake in the back yard coiled up outside the gate of your dogs kennel and your dog is barking like crazy you better take care of that too because of course your husband is on his way home from his 2 hour drive from SFO having just ended a 4 day trip but the snake doesn’t seem to being going anywhere but maybe inside the kennel. Or when He was based in DEN and it only seemed to snow the nights he was gone and I was the one who was there to shovel the driveway in order to get the kids to school. Or when your son slams the door on your daughters hand and yep you guessed his flight just left 2 hours earliyand he won’t be home for 2 days. You learn to make friends fast and how to take care of things around the house and you go to all of your kids events and get involved because your husband can’t always be there . You go to parties alone because he’s ” flying again ” , and you want to make sure your kids don’t miss out just because dad can’t be there. But you learn to handle things around the house even if not always perfect but you do it, because it’s for your family and it helps your husband not feel so bad & hope he knows he doesn’t need to worry about you and the kids. Although he still does worry about me, to this day every time he leaves for a trip he asks me “are you going to be ok here by yourself”, to which my reply is yeah I got this. But the good thing is he’s no longer on reserve p, he not only holds a line but can pretty much pick his schedule and even can bid 10 days off in a row not even using vacation time! Plus if there are any seats available on flights I’m usually the first stand by to get a seat, very very rarely is it first class but it’s a economy plus almost Avery time! I’m thankful and grateful for my husbands career because if I wasn’t independent when we started this journey I sure as heck am now! Sorry for the book but it does get better, just hang in there!

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    1. I’m year 14 of #thepilotwifelife. And this ‘book’ made me laugh so hard! I live on a farm so I totally resemble the rattlesnake comments. LOL. Last trip my son (9) came in and nonchalantly informed me there was a copperhead living in their play area. Of course…no pilot! I spent an hour searching for that little bugger and tearing apart the yard. And finally, under the last stinking tiny of leaves….sure enough! It coiled up and struck at me. Pilot wives are capable of so much more than we even imagine! You cannot be scared or let the world overwhelm you because you don’t have time or a backup plan! I have had to chase my 600-pound escaped pig and convince her (with Doritos) that she really wanted to come home, fended off numerous venomous snakes, survived a car accident with my children on board, fixed more household items than I like to count…and so much more with him gone! And the kicker is, I usually don’t even bother telling him because it does nothing but stresses him out! What is he going to do about his wife wrestling a copperhead 500 miles away? So I do it…wait until the moment has passed and calmly answer to how was your day, “Oh, no big deal. Just took care of a copperhead, fought an escaped killer lion, and saved the world. I’ve GOT this.”

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      1. Crack me up! We think the same way. Really what good is it going to do to tell him. I remember when my husband was going through initial training, my college aged son called and told me that he had an issue and his coach had schedule surgery for the day after tomorrow. I was like ok. I’ll be there, what time? Here’s the kicker…the day after tomorrow was check ride day!! How in the world could I put that stresser on him. So, I drove the 4 1/2 hours to the hospital. Waited through the surgery. Sat with my son until he woke up. Listened to him say all the crazy things people say when coming out from under anesthesia, laughing hysterically! Then when all was good, called my hubby (got his voicemail) and very sweetly said “just to let you know, Cody is out of surgery and doing great! Hope your check is going well. Call me later. Love ya!” The things we do!!

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  3. while not a pilots wife, I am retired UAL. and I do need your encouragement, I am now 85, widowed, however my 62yr divorced son lives with me. we are like roommates,rather than mother & son, company and help for each other. even so I do get down, now and then, so its good to read your blog. I can relate/remember the life you now have. cherish it, because its gone in a blink of an eye, & you’l wish it was back.

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    1. Beautiful! Thank you for stopping by to love on me like this. And I plan to keep on loving on you and your son too. Keep your head up, beautiful. You are an inspiration to me and so many others. We love you, our retired sister!!

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      1. Thank you! I cannot be (and refuse to be!) anything other than who I am! I think that is the problem with the world. We spend so much time trying to impress others that we lose sight of us. I’m going to continue to be real and be me!

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  4. I remember being a newly married, 20-something year old Marine Corps officer’s wife in the 1970s just after the Vietnam war ended. My husband never fought in Vietnam, but I was surrounded by experienced wives who had survived those incredibly dark years of knowing their husbands were in harm’s way daily and never knowing for sure if or when they would be coming home. Somehow, their marriages had stayed intact, their children continued to grow and thrive, and their strength of character and confidence emanated for all of us newbies to see. They never really talked about those dark days, but the lines in their faces and the silver streaks in their hair at 40 years of age spoke louder than words. And I couldn’t stop asking myself how they did it with such love, dignity, and grace.

    So, the first time my husband’s squadron was deployed to Okinawa for 6 months…unaccompanied… I had just found out I was 3 months pregnant with our first child. I was angry that my DH was going to be gone the whole pregnancy and might not even make it home for the birth, so I promptly had a pity-party for myself the moment he left. But that pity-party was short lived when I started seeing my counterparts getting involved in charitable causes, taking trips home to visit friends and family, getting together for lunches and movies and family play dates. Every one of us eventually found ways to keep busy, help each other out, learn new things, test our abilities to handle crises, make decisions, fix things, and most importantly, stay strong and cheerful so our husbands could do their jobs without having to worry about us. The mystery of how those senior officers’ wives managed to survive those war-torn years apart from their husbands gradually started to fade as I experienced my own first long separation and had to discover how I, too, would survive. My heart ached every day he was gone, but I discovered a resilience I never would have found otherwise. Several more deployments followed, and while none were easy, at least I was confident I could make the best of it.

    My husband became a commercial pilot in 1985 for a major airline that went belly-up 4 years later. Since then, he has flown for 3 other airlines, one of which merged with United a few years ago, so I guess you can say I’m kind of like those older, experienced Marine Corps wives I talked about earlier who had been through the wars, too. Not the same kinds of wars, but it’s been lonely at times, character-building at other times, and yes, fun in ways that I would not have had the opportunity to experience if he just had a typical 9-5 job. In some ways, it was easier to see him leave for just a few days at a time rather than months at a time, but the sacrifices were different. What’s most important, however, is that it’s not just about the loneliness and sacrifices that we, the wives, have to endure, but also the jobs that take our husbands and wives away from their homes, as well. If I counted the number of nights my husband hasn’t been home to sleep in his own bed, the number of Thanksgivings and birthdays and anniversaries and Christmases he has missed, the number of little league ball games and wrestling meets and father-daughter dances he didn’t get to attend, and the number of family reunions he was unable to bid off for, I think it’s fair to say that HE has had the worst of it. It’s all in the perspective of how we look at things, and if our marriages are truly partnerships with the same commitments to a beautiful life together, we can’t just think of how bad we, ourselves, have it.

    We just celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to travel this pilot-wife-life with my husband who has just 2 more years left before he retires. We are both looking forward to life without Crew Scheds telling us when we can do things and when we can’t take vacations, but I must admit I will miss my days alone to do what I want, evenings of watching TV shows that he can’t stand, and weekends visiting with my girlfriends whose husbands are still flying. It will be challenging in ways we have yet to imagine, but we’ve faced unknown challenges before and are no longer afraid of them. For those of you who are new to this atypical married lifestyle, all I can say is learn to love it both ways….If you learn to love it when he leaves and love it more when he comes home, you’ve got it made!!!

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    1. You have so eloquently said so many things I too believe and am trying to impress upon this beautiful community. I wonder if you would allow me to share this comment sometime as a blog. I will remove your name for safety if you allow and wish. Loved every word. ❤️

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      1. Thank you for the compliment! I would be honored for you to share my thoughts, and give my permission to use my first name. I wish your blog had been around when I was a young pilot’s wife living in a small town where not one other airline family lived. Just knowing there were other families living the same crazy lifestyle would have been sooo comforting, and it still is! I am very happy to have found this forum and am happy to be a part of a network of strong women who understand the challenges that come with all those “perks” of being a pilot’s wife. 😉

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      2. Thank you so much! I can’t tell you exactly when I’ll use it, I’ve got a full load, but I really want to. So much wisdom in your words. Though I have ‘only’ been an aviation wife for 15 years, I have been through so much. I, too, found myself wishing there was something like this in the early years. I found groups, one of which actually almost ruined my marriage with their bitter words and stale hearts. But I grew stronger and learned to love this. And I watched as other women were going through similar things and got the aching in my heart…and the notion that perhaps I could do something about it. So #thepilotwifelife was born and here we are!

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  5. So we should all just go ahead and share our pic of THAT spot in the house where the art projects/unopened mail/laundry/bunnies accumulate. For me, it’s the kitchen bar counter – great to turn the toddler lose on for treasure hunting, always the first place to look if I can’t find that THING anywhere else but, admittedly, a bit of an eyesore. A challenge for me to find mental peace knowing that pursuing being “caught up” is likely not realistic. We’re all in good company!

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  6. Camp Chaos. That is what my mother called my house when my kids were young. I am not certain it is much better now. But, my kids and I have survived 28 years as a pilot’s family and I think we are all stronger for it. The pile of dirty dishes left for one more day didn’t kill anyone. We all were able to find clean clothes even if they were still in the basket and mac and cheese 3 days in a row, 3 weeks in a row, didn’t stunt anyone’s growth. My friends ask me, “How do you do it, being alone all the time?” My answer, “You just do it. You figure it out.” I can’t imagine my life any differently. It is OUR life and I love it…most of the time. 🙂

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    1. All of these things, yes!! I do it by staying focused on the next step and putting one foot in front of the other. If I try to look at the giant picture I get stressed, but when I focus on doing what’s next, I breeze through. Mostly!

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  7. You live “my dream” always wanted, since I have memory, to be a stewardess and eventually a pilot’s wife…but in my hayday I did not meet the requirements! In spite of all the nastiness and airline blunders I still love to fly! If all the critics out ther fully understood how complex it is to move thousands even millions of people, their pets and their luggage. Those who’ve traveled in groups or with a large family know how easily all control can be lost with one minor glitch or key person who falls ill….I have TOTAL respect for the airline industry and we cannot judge the whole bushel because of a couple bad apples!! Hang in there….one of my fave sayings is: “Don’t let someone dim your light, simply because it’s shining in their eyes!”

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  8. Thank you for the encouragement! You are brave 🙂 I can only imagine how hard it is to do your blog…putting your heart & soul out there to support this community….but then exposing yourself to the horrible negativity of the internet. I so wish we could just love all the meanness out of the world….I just try to pray for all the people so full of hate. Keep on keeping on….your words are a ray of light & a gift.

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  9. I understand, and I’m so sorry people are so hateful still. They clearly have nothing better to do with their time. My husband and I had a moment recently where I had to remind him of something that happened while he was deployed. Then I remembered something that happened when he was TDY. Everything happens while they’re away.

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