Life with your husband gone six months out of the year and how it affects the family.
Image via Wikipedia
I have been a tow-boaters wife for 27 years and its a way of life that takes time to get used to. We have raised four kids in rural Kentucky and at times we both wonder what we are doing. My husband of 27 years became a pilot soon after we got married and has worked almost every shift that a towboat company works-2 weeks on,2 off- 3 weeks on,2 off- 30 and 30 and now 28 and 28. Over the years we have discussed the pros and cons of our lifestyle and with the better pay involved, decided this is the best way for him to support our family.
First and foremost my husband DOES NOT WORK ON A BARGE!!! He drives a TOWBOAT, he pushes barges, and does it well. Normally he pushes around 15 barges up and down the Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi and the Cumberland rivers. The boats generally have 6-8 workers (deckhands, mates , and a cook) and a pilot, who works the back watch and the captain who works the front watch. They work in six hour shifts, fitting in meals, leisure and telephone time in between.
Life is different when your spouse is on the boat. First of all- you are basically on your own- you have to be the mother and father to the children and all the household chores and problems fall on your shoulders. My husband has always been great about being there for me on the phone and helping me in any way he can and he tries to do as many chores around the house before he leaves for the boat. Of course the kids realize dad is gone and he can’t punish as easily from the boat like he can when he is home. so kids have a tendency to push you more and try to get by with more. Also as a wife(spouse), unless your children are small, you don’t feel the need to fix the meals at certain times like you do when your significant other is at home.
It is a hard life, one shared by spouses of truckers and other professions that one has to travel from home. People ask me all the time how do we do it, but if this is what you are used to, you don’t think about it as much. I have always told people that i feel like my husband is with our family more than most fathers who come home every night because when he is home he is there day and night for 28 days straight. Parents who work at a “normal” job normally work 8-9 hours, commute 1 hour each way and maybe make it home around 6 p.m… you get to eat a meal with your family, then its time for bath and bed and homework if the child has to go to a sitter or daycare. So quality time is greatly reduced and the weekends are took up with running, shopping and church if you attend. Oh and by the way, free time is a no no for a couple who works the ‘normal’ job.
Published in: Family