This week my automatic gate stopped shutting. It’s a big, green monstrosity constructed of a wood-hung steel frame that weighs about a million pounds, and I was growing weary of slogging out in the pouring rain to force it closed. In my humble opinion, that totally negates the point of having a mechanical gate opener in the first place, doesn’t it? As it turns out, the gate was sagging slightly due to the weight causing some dillimajigger to bump into a metal thingy-a-whopper, subsequently causing the whatumacallit to malfunction and abort closure. Clear as tarmac?
There’s really nothing my husband could do from a hotel room in Who Know’s Where, so I hated to bother him with the mundane details of a renegade gate. Therefore, I handled it. I took an old piece of cut cpvc pipe that I found in the farm trash pile, a metal bracket from the shed, and of course a good ol’ hammer (my fix-it staple!) and Angelia-rigged a viable (albeit not so pretty) solution. Guess what? It closes! Ka-Chow!!!+
I fix stuff. I have to or I would abide in a world of continuously broken chaos.
It never fails. He walks out the door and two and a half seconds later the water heater explodes, a tree falls on the fence, the dog escapes his inescapable confines and runs away, the kids start projectile puking, an 18-wheeler gets stuck three feet deep in our quicksand excuse of a yard (seriously, enough with the rain already!), and the car has a flat tire. Again. And that’s on a quiet day! I swear I’m on a first name basis with half the plumbers, electricians, tow truck drivers, and emergency room staff in my immediate vicinity!It never fails. He walks out the door and two and a half seconds later the water heater explodes, a tree falls on the fence, the dog escapes his inescapable confines, and the kids start projectile puking. Click To Tweet
It’s called ‘Pilot Wife Law’ and, people, the struggle is real!
If I had a dollar for every flat tire I’ve pumped, leak I’ve plugged, urgent care I’ve sat in, storm I’ve weathered (both literal and proverbial), creepy attic I’ve crawled through, construction woe I’ve managed, and debilitating sickness I’ve lived through that he never even knew about…well, he could probably retire from aviation for good and stay home to fix it all himself! Of course, nothing would break then, right? Right! **Insert dramatic eye roll.**
When ‘it’ breaks (as it inevitably will!), we kick the wall, mumble some choice words, take a deep breath, and figure it out. We strap on the tool belt, consult YouTube, and get ‘er done the best we know how! Let me tell you, Pilot Wives can change tires, diagnose electrical problems, wrangle venomous snakes, and stop gushing water leaks with the best of them…all while nursing a bad case of the stomach flu. And if we can’t, we have accrued some amazing people in our back pockets that can. I love this about my ladies – their inextinguishable spirit of tenacity. We are beautiful and able! No testosterone necessary.
Then when he phones home during his 10-minute turnaround from some faraway airport to rhetorically inquire as to how my day is going, I stand in the knee-deep muck with a lug wrench in my hand and the rain pouring mercilessly on my head and cheerfully answer, “Oh, don’t you worry. Everything is fine here, honey. Juuuuuust fine! Have a safe flight.” It’s our little secret contribution to keeping the skies safe. We hate burdening them when they are flying, so when life (or the refrigerator) falls apart, we just fix it!
Let me tell you something… Men and women do not fix things the same way! Our brains are wired very differently, and it shows in everything – from the way we receive and understand love to the way we approach problem solving. My husband has job specific tools, a checklist, and a Lowes card; I have whatever random free items I can find laying around the house, duct tape, and some good ol’ farm girl ingenuity!Men and women do not fix things the same way! Our brains are wired very differently, and it shows in everything - from the way we receive and understand love to the way we approach problem solving. Click To Tweet
He has come home from a trip to find the chicken fences mended with electrical ties and old PVC/rusted rebar/fallen limbs, the windshield wiper replaced with a sock and a hair Scrunchie, and the mailbox reattached with a bike hanger, some metal pipe clamps, and a bunch of mismatched bolts. All true stories.
Okay, about the windshield wiper… in my defense, I was driving down the highway in rush hour traffic through one gale of a storm to pick him up from the airport when my driver’s side wiper completely snapped off (I mean, seriously…does that even happen???) and went flying into the great unknown. The only remotely absorbent thing I had in my car was a pair of socks that I kept in case I encountered a homeless man/woman, so I attached them to what was left of the wiper shaft with the only fastener I had available – my hair thingy! If you ask me, it was actually quite ingenious considering the circumstances and most certainly got me where I was going, but the confounded look on his face when I drove up to the terminal with a sock and Scrunchie swishing cheerfully back and forth across the glass was, to say the least, priceless.
And yeah…he stopped at the nearest Wally World on the way home and bought and installed a new wiper. Pronto.
The point is, it worked! Was it the way he would have handled the situation? Of course not! I mean, not everyone is blessed with that type of raw genius (snickers). Did it look pretty? Mmmm, not so much. But did I handle the situation that life threw at me instead of having a mental meltdown and calling him crying and cajoling when he had no feasible way to assist me? YOU BETCHA! That’s Pilot Wife strong, people.
We have this very misconstrued idealism running rampant in society that says different is somehow lesser. It’s not! Different is just…well, different. There are an infinite number of viable solutions to every problem that we encounter. We don’t have to pack everything into a neat little box that fits our own personal idea of ‘right’ – unless of course that box is made out of empty toilet paper rolls and duct tape, that is. Because a box that falls outside our limited mental parameters of the universally conformed definition of a box…is still a box!
Look (and I’m talking directly to you here gentleman), here’s what I’m getting at today. I get it, I really do; she fixes stuff when you are gone and it’s not how you would have done things. In your mind you could have done it much better, way more efficiently, or what you deem ‘the right way’.There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, more disheartening to your wife than negative criticism from the man she adores when he walks in the door. It is truly like a flaming arrow to her heart. Click To Tweet
But there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, more disheartening to your wife than negative criticism from the man she adores when he walks in the door. It is truly like a flaming arrow to her heart. Because she does it all for you! Believe me when I tell you, she doesn’t sit around thinking, “Golly gee, I sure hope the whole world implodes while he’s gone this week. That will be sooooo much fun!” She doesn’t fix it ‘that way’ to annoy or exasperate you; she does it because it’s the way she knows how to do it and she loves you fiercely enough to support your dreams of flying! True story.
That ugly rear view mirror held together with a repurposed coat hanger and some hot glue is a beautiful and perfect picture of just how much she is willing to sacrifice, just how much she tries to handle, just how hard she works to protect you from the burdens back home, just how determined she is to hold it all together no matter what. It is an ode of her deep and unwavering love for you!
Just some perspective.
Next time you walk in the door and the words, “Why the… You should have… What were you thinking… I can’t believe…I would have…Why didn’t you…,” jump to your lips, stop and consider what it will do to her spirit and why she did it in the first place. Then hug her tightly, kiss her on the forehead, and tell her how freaking amazing she is!
And just say thank you.
Thank her for being willing to shoulder the burden at home alone so that the man she loves can pursue his lifelong dream! Thank her for being the kind of woman you know can hold down the fort when you are away. Thank her for fixing things because she doesn’t want to burden you when you are a thousand miles from home or distract you from keeping the skies safe. Thank her for her tenacity and for not just giving up and walking away when life is hard and falls apart. Thank her for loving you enough to stand knee high in the muck in a raging storm with a tire iron and casually tell you she doing ‘just fine.’
She loves you that much. And brother, that is nothing less than fantastically beautiful, no matter how much duct tape is holding it all together.
I love you, aviation family. Keep FLY-ing.
Angelia (a Pilot Wife who can fix stuff with the best of ’em!)
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Just Winging It: Prayers for My Pilot Wife (autographed)
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