A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife {Part 2}

A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife-Part 2, Country Wife Chronicles

I shared the following in, “A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife {Part 1},” but felt it was worth re-sharing in order to set up this post.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are two seasons when living the Wildland Fire Life—fire season and not fire season, or the off-season.

These two times of year aren’t necessarily written in stone, they are a general guideline, but each year is different and the length of each fully depends on your geographic location.

For Wildland Man and I, at least currently, the fire season seems to out-length the off-season. Something I’m still getting used to. For us, the trade-off is more experience for my husband during the longer fire season. Then, eventually, hopefully, we can afford to move somewhere with a shorter fire season.

But for the purposes of illustrating how a day in the life of a wildland fire wife looks, we’ll examine my day-to-day in both seasons over the next two posts: “A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife {Part 1}” and “A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife {Part 2}.”

So, this is Part 2 of “A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife.” This is the part that will be exploring my day-to-day as a wife of a Wildland Firefighter during the fire season.

This is the part that gets hard.

It gets lonely. Real lonely.

And quiet.

So quiet.

But I vowed to be real when I started sharing my life on Country Wife Chronicles, so I’m going to share this part of my life with you in hopes of building a community of Fire Wives so that we no longer need to go this road alone.

Disclaimer: I live a pretty mundane life. I’m not a thrill seeker or even much of a social diva; I’m a homebody who does well with daily structure. So, if you are looking to read this post with the hopes of hearing harrowing stories of firefighting (that’s Wildland Man’s day-to-day, not mine) or some eventful, amazing daily anecdotes, you probably aren’t going to find it here. Sorry, not sorry. This is my real life…

Fire Season

Wildfire season is typically anywhere from spring to early fall across the country. That means as early as March and as late as October, Wildland Man could potentially be called away on a 21-day detail to fight a wildfire states away. And then, when wildfires aren’t a threat, prescribed burn seasons are usually underway, weather permitting. (Learn more about these types of fires in “Living the Fire Life.”)

As I mentioned in “A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife {Part 1}, our current geographic region allows for a pretty extensive prescribed burn season, pretty much when it’s not wildfire season here it is prescribed burn season, with September-November and February-May being prime weather windows for burning both locally and regionally. So that really leaves us with late November to early February as our off-season. That means most of the year I’m in fire season mode.

I also revealed in Part 1 that I am a creature who thrives on structure and routine in my life, so I try not to change up my schedule too much when the hubs is away. I just function better under some sense of normalcy, even when my other half is absent and there is a huge void in my life.

Yet, fire season is nothing if not unpredictable. Which means my schedule must stay flexible, especially considering the sleep-deprived combination of Wildland Man calling at weird hours and the fact that I don’t sleep well in an empty bed. I said it before, but I prefer to get my sleep these days, all 8½ hours of it, to feel fully rested. So I take fire season day to day. It may mean not setting an alarm or taking naps the next day. It may mean waking up to talk to Wildland Man when he calls in the wee hours of the morning and then crawling back in bed afterwards.   I currently have the freedom to get my sleep, however chopped up it may be during fire season, so I’m going to get it whenever I can.

A Day in the Life of a Fire Wife

7:00/8:00am—Depending on the sleep situation, I will usually wake up on my own in the morning by now. I’ll amble out to the kitchen, get the coffee brewing and sit down for breakfast with a little morning TV. I tend to keep the TV on a lot more when Wildland Man is away to temper the silence of an empty house. Then I’ll settle in for my morning quiet time. I love my morning quiet time, but during Fire Season, I find that it is something I need…like the air I breathe. It is what gets me through this time of the year.

9:00am—Once I’m done with my quiet time I will start a podcast, again to help temper the silence, while I go about picking up the house. Just like the off-season, I still take a moment to think of how I can be intentional in my marriage for the day. It’s not always as easy, and it can take some creativity, but I don’t stop being intentional just because my husband is away. I try to come up with something I could do from afar or I’ll plan something special for his return home. It may just be framing my mind around the need to be present to him whenever he does get the chance to call. Spending time being intentional in my marriage helps to guard against that feeling of loneliness that comes with Wildland Man’s absence. Finally, I take a moment to check out my meal plan and get out items for thawing if needed. As mentioned in previous posts, Wildland Man is the cook, so in preparation for fire season I’ll often start freezing leftovers for easy meals while he is away.

10:00am—I do my best to get my workout in for the day before noon. Working out releases pent up stress for me and takes my mind off the isolation. Though I must admit, it’s even harder to convince myself to wear something other than comfy yoga pants after showering when I know my hubs won’t be coming home at the end of the day! (Remember my struggle with yoga pants from Part 1?) So I cut myself a little slack and don’t try as hard when it’s just me at home.

12:00pm—By noon I’m fixing lunch and checking my calendar for any important items that need addressed during business hours. I’ll take care of them after eating before I get going on the blog. Usually by 1:00pm I’ve started working on the blog and will do so for a few hours before taking a break.

3:00pm—It is time for a quick break from the blog. I’ll work on my weekly cleaning chore and knock out a few tasks on the to-do list. Sometimes, in this afternoon slump, I’ll find that the loneliness begins to creep in. If it’s a rough day, I may just take a break and binge watch a couple of my favorite TV shows, or pop in a rom-com that’ll make me laugh. I like to choose shows and movies that I know Wildland Man doesn’t care to watch when he is around. Taking a mid-day break boosts my mood and helps me to get out of my own head when I need to.

4:00/5:00pm to 6:00/6:30pm—After a break I will often continue some work on the blog until dinner. I try my best to stick to regular meal times even if my sleep schedule is out of whack, so I’m usually eating dinner around 6:00 or so. I know it is far too easy to get completely out of sync with my schedule if I’m not careful. And it’s always harder to get back on track after that happens.

I have found that dinnertime is usually when the loneliness really sets in, I so love dinners with my husband and I miss having conversation with him. During fire season, our conversation is so sporadic and often short, it never feels like we get to catch up much. So, I make a point to write down things that happened throughout the day that I would usually talk to my husband about at dinner on a notepad. Then, when Wildland Man does call, even if it is 2:00 in the morning, I have that notepad in front of me to recap my day with him. We read the Bible together whenever we have time on his calls too.

My best advice for anyone with a spouse in this type of career, or anything similar, is this idea of keeping a notepad on hand at all times. No matter when he calls, be present (even if that means taking a moment to wake up enough to talk) and keep the conversation alive. It’s so easy, especially at weird hours, to just push the conversation off until next time. But it’s important to keep that connection alive. I want my husband, my best friend, to be the one I go to on these day-to-day things. So I work at it. And it has paid off.

7:00pm—After dinner I finish up a few tasks around the house, clean up the kitchen, settle in for some TV while continuing to do some work on the blog from the couch. I break my rule about no computer after 8:00pm a lot when Wildland Man is away. I prefer to stay preoccupied in the evening, when it’s hardest to be alone. And it doesn’t hurt that I put in a few extra hours on the blog, it usually adds up so that I’m a little ahead of schedule which then allows me to take some days off whenever Wildland Man does return home.

9:00/10:00pm—I do still try to shut the computer off a bit before trying to go to sleep and will transition to some light reading to shut my brain down before bed. When I’m all ready for bed, I meticulously create a pillow husband on Wildland Man’s side of the bed so it doesn’t feel like I’m sleeping all alone in the night. I throw on one of his sweatshirts over my PJs to feel close to him, set my phone and notepad on my night stand for when he calls, and attempt to get some sleep. However, many a night, I end up back on the couch, not being able to sleep in bed, with the TV on until I can finally drift away. Usually, at some point I’ll wake up and return to the bedroom. But wherever I go, so does my phone and notepad. Because I want to be available, when and if Wildland Man is able to call.

And that’s my life when Wildland Man is away on fires. This is my life during fire season. Again, I don’t claim to live an exciting life. I’m pretty much a loner. Especially when the hubs is away. But I don’t fall into a depression or anything, because I’ve been down that road before, and I refuse to slip back into it.

This is my typical day, but I do have wonderful folks who watch out for me where we live. Some days I’m running to town for groceries, other days I’m meeting a friend for coffee, leading Bible study once a week, or meeting church folks for lunch and fellowship. I’ll walk with my neighbor some mornings, go over to their house for dinner, or pick up the phone and call friends and family to defy the silence. I have some great friends that know to check in on me more often when it is fire season and Wildland Man is away.

So, while it does get lonely, I’m not alone. And I know that.

And, if you are a fire wife, you need to know that. You are not alone. We are all in this together. The struggle is real, but we can encourage one another while enduring the season in which our husbands are away the most.

Join the conversation below:

  • Are you a Wildland Fire Wife? How does your daily schedule differ between fire season and the off-season?
  • Do you have a spouse in another career field that presents some of the same obstacles as what I experience as a Wildland Fire Wife? How do you deal with it in your daily life?
  • If you can relate to this post, how do you recommend that we continue to build and encourage a community of wives in similar circumstances?

Be Still & Know…

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