Withstanding the Heat

These times with COVID-19 are trying. It can be tough to feel like you’re locked up in house with no place to go. I’m a stay at home mom, which means I’m more used to being home than most and even I am ready to get back out.

COVID-19 also means a lot of people are temporarily out of a job. That, of course, is stressful on a marriage when you have no, or only half, of your usual income coming in. On the flip side, there are those of us who have spouses still on the front lines of this pandemic that bring along an entirely different set of challenges.

For me, my husband is a firefighter.

I never know from day-to-day if my husband has been exposed to someone with this awful disease. Where the money may still be coming in, my stress level is at an all-time high. Maybe you’re the person in your family still considered “essential” and the “at-risk” individual in your home. It’s super scary!

So how are we navigating these uncharted waters?

For us, it’s being hyper aware of what my husband is coming in contact with. If there is the potential that he came in contact with someone infected, we have to be ready at the drop of a dime to head to my parents home so that he can quarantine himself in our house, away from our kids and me.

In many ways, however, we don’t know exactly what this looks like. I don’t know if he’s going to be called in to work more because co-workers are now out sick. Or maybe he will be asked to work less to avoid cross-contaminating crews. It’s all new, and much of it is scary.

But with heightened stress levels surrounding the pandemic as a first responder’s wife, as well as the everyday stress of parenting a mobile baby and toddler, marriage can sometimes feel like it’s on the back burner.

As a fire wife, you have to be willing to give a little more of your husband. When the tones drop and they need extra hands, you may need to let him go. If he’s called in for overtime, or asked to stay over for a fellow firefighter, you say, “sure,” because you know the fire family is a family and they would do the same for you.

So although our marriage may look a little different right now with the pandemic, it also looks so much the same: being willing to give a little more of your husband to allow him to follow his calling, helping others in need.

My husband, of course, knows I need him. But he also knows that I am self-sufficient and able to get the kiddos fed and put into bed no problem. He knows I can handle a grocery store run or a toddler tantrum. And although he knows it, it’s still so important to tell him. Let him know you’re doing ok, that you love him and still need him, that you’re praying for him and his crew, their safety and their sanity.

And as hard as it is for him to be away, that makes our time together that much sweeter, but only because we’re putting forth an effort to make it so.

We’re finding it so important to just sit down and chat. Sometimes, of course, about things that need discussed, like how our budget looks now that he is unable to work his side job. Other times we are just getting back to asking the silly dating questions like, “Is your favorite food still steak?” We’ve been surprised how much we’ve learned about each other these last few weeks. We’ve been able to dream together, which in such a scary time is so incredibly fun. We’re using our phones a little bit less and opening up each other’s minds and hearts a little bit more.

We’re allowing our marriage the ability to stay connected, lower the stress level (even if juuuust slightly), and enjoy the time that we are spending with each other.

With a national pandemic, sometimes it can feel like my husband is fighting more “fires” than literal ones (although he’s of course doing that too). He knows I’m hear to listen if he needs to talk, to keep the kids quiet a little longer so he can sleep, or to let him play some video games to decompress instead of mowing the lawn.

We’re a team, now more than ever.

So maybe ease up on the honey-do list, and instead sit down and connect, dream and love a little more.

And to all you first responders, military, doctors, nurses, and other essential personnel, THANK YOU! You are heroes and we are so thankful for your selflessness and willing to risk yourself for others. I am praying for you. AND thank you so much to their families, for being willing to give up your loved ones to, what feels like, everyone else. I see you and also appreciate all of your sacrifices!

All my love,

Chelsi

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