It was far too quiet.
I’m always careful about quiet in my house, it usually means that someone is up to something. I know this from experience.
Once my then two year old had allowed me to read too much of my magazine uninterrupted before I found he had decided to flood the bathroom by filling up the basin and washing his teddy bear with his dads toothbrush. Today I half expected to find something similar.
I knew the baby was asleep, so I wasn’t worried about him, but mr four, well he has abilities these days, and sometimes I underestimate those abilities. Creeping around the house I thought I could catch him in the act, but Instead I see him sitting at the front door. He seemed content, so I decided to leave him and carry on.
A load of washing, dishes and some vaccuming later I notice he is still there, sitting and watching each car as it goes by. Turning off the vacuum, I sat down next to him and asked him what he was doing. A beautiful smile came across his face and he said ‘waiting for daddy’. My heart sank.
‘Daddy won’t be home for a few more days son’. Tiny little tears of disappointment dropped down his cheeks and he put his face in his lap and said ‘but you told me he would be home soon!’.
This is one of the struggles of doing fifo, fifo with young children. Children that don’t quite grasp the concept of time, grasp the concept of weeks or days or what soon really means. This isn’t a once off moment, it probably happens at least once a stint. This doesn’t just affect Mr Four though, my now one year old currently thinks his uncles who are sporting similarly well groomed beards as Mr Fifo husband are his dad. He will crawl over to them, tug at their legs and cuddle into their shoulders.
So why would I share this?
Why would I tell you about how I overheard mr four telling his friend at school he couldn’t do the daddy/son day activity at school because his ‘daddy isn’t here’. Or about the time the baby crawled over to the turned off iPad and started tapping it saying ‘ Dadda Dadda’.
Why would I tell you that drop off days are super hard as I watch my husband attempt to not look back at the car as he walks to the departure lounge to avoid us seeing his tears. Or how mr four will write a letter to his dad and then ask me to fold it into a paper plane to fly to where he is.
Why would I share those moments?
Because recently I was asked if I understood the sacrifice we were making as a family, so my husband can work away. To me it was quite a profound statement. A statement I am sure a lot of other fifo wives have experienced or at least something similar. I wonder why they think as fifo families we wouldn’t understand. It hits us smack bang in the face every single day.
We are not complaining, or asking for your sympathy. This is something we have chosen. Instead for more understanding.
The understanding that we know we can’t get this time back, we know there will be hard days, sad days and rough days, and that we know no amount of money can replace this time. We know it.
But this is it.
We want you to understand those comments don’t help, they don’t change it, or make it easier. So many dads and husbands are out there working tirelessly for days, weeks and months to provide for their family to the best that they can. They do it for their families, for their children, for their partners. Some do it so their wives can be stay at home mums instead of putting kids in daycare, some do it to buy their family a home, or to become debt free. Some do it because that is the only place that employs their chosen profession, and some do it because they love it.
But this is it.
We want you to understand that those feelings of anticipation on pick up days are amazing, and watching your child run ecstatically into their fathers arms after a long separation are beautiful. We want you to understand that we are grateful for modern technology which allows us to communicate with our loved ones so much more, and that some days a giant phone bill is worth the extra two hour long video chat call. We want you to understand that our fifo workers need your support and encouragement, rather then criticisms and extra pressure.
But mostly we want you to know the answer is yes. Yes, we do understand the sacrifice we are making.
So with his head in his lap, and tears running down his face I asked mr four if he would like to ring his daddy. For the next 20minutes mr four demonstrated to his dad how he could backflip from the couch onto the cushions on the floor. I watched the tears fade from his face to be replaced by smiles and laughter. I watched the baby play peek a boo with his dad through the iPad, and in that moment I knew everything would be ok.
Tonight as we emptied the school bags we found an invitation for a fathers day activity at school, mr four handed it to me and asked who would come with him. Checking the date on the invitation with the dates on our fifo calendar, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Turning to mr four I said ‘daddy’. A giant smile filled his face as he ran down the corridor to tell his nana
‘my daddy will be here’….