I posted a blog a few weeks back sharing some of the up sides of FIFO in my opinion. Today I wanted to share the single hardest thing I experience being a FIFO family and that is the overwhelming and all-consuming feeling of loneliness.
My husband hasn’t been on his normal 2:1 rotation for nearly 6 months, he is currently in his 3rd week away with still no indication of when he will be flown home. I won’t mention his employer but just want to send out a big virtual FUCK YOU to them. They have been putting him through the ringer lately and although he wouldn’t admit it he is breaking and so am I. Apart from not having his family with him each night he works in an office alone (the company he works for is relatively small so it’s just him and one mechanic) and he stays in a unit alone not a camp so it’s not just me experiencing loneliness. And of course I have Chloe here, Brett only has pictures and the occasional FaceTime.
I have to admit that sometimes I don’t want to talk to my husband after he’s had a long day at work because I can’t stand to hear the sadness in his voice. Sadness that he gets back to an empty unit after a 12+ hour day and phones me and longs to be here with me juggling dinner prep and a sulky baby, the sound of the washing machine whirling in the background as there are no clean clothes in the house, watching The Project whilst shushing the sulky baby so I can get updated on current events and telling the dog off for the one hundredth time for licking Chloe’s face non stop. It’s a crazy time for me and sometimes I just want to press pause on life so I can catch a breath for a second but he wants nothing more than to be here amongst the craziness rather than alone in a half empty house by himself.
Chloe has been relatively content the last few weeks, a welcome change from her usual uncooperative and gremlin like self (the one that gets fed after midnight and turns into a monster, not the cute fluffy one). But I haven’t really enjoyed this time as its been overshadowed by solitude and a desire to share this amazing time with my husband. A lot of people think I don’t like being cuddled, I think it stemmed from me not liking my neck and shoulders being touched and that gave the impression I don’t like being touched at all. But I really do love a good snuggle and Chloe doesn’t really enjoy cuddles so I’m often left to embrace a pillow at night. As gross as it may sound I usually don’t wash Brett’s pillow case until the day before he returns home so I can curl up with his pillow that smells of him. I’ve been tempted to get his face printed on a pillow slip but I’m not at that level of creepiness yet.
I was always a shy person but since finishing work, becoming a mum and spending a lot of time alone I tend to open up a lot quicker when I get the opportunity to interact with other full-grown humans. I don’t get the chance often as I live quite far from a lot of my friends and babbling and squealing with Chloe doesn’t always quite cut it as a conversation. I used to cherish quiet time before I had Chloe, I worked in recruitment so I was always talking to someone so at home I enjoyed not having to talk to anyone and just be. But being in your own head for too long can be very lonely, no one to unload to when I’ve had a really shit day or confide in when I just need to let my feelings out – it all just bottles up inside. I know I could express it all via phone but the last thing Brett needs to hear is how I’ve struggled all day looking after his daughter that he hardly ever gets to see.
Some days I honestly feel like a single parent. It’s scary to think that at one time I couldn’t think of ever being without my husband but now I still don’t want to imagine it but I know I would manage. Chloe has started to say ‘mama’ knowing it means mum and that I am her mum but she still doesn’t know that ‘dada’ means dad and that hurts my heart so much. I try to show Chloe pictures of her dad as often as I can and talk about where he is and what he’s doing even though I know she doesn’t understand yet. We FaceTime when we can too but she doesn’t quite understand the concept, she is usually more excited to see her own little mug in the corner of the screen. When Brett gets home from work she is always a bit cautious but only for a few minutes, she very quickly warms up and their bond starts forming all over again which is so beautiful to see. She is definitely going to be a daddy’s girl as she grows up!
How I’m feeling right now honestly makes me want to just tell him to get his butt home, I’ll stop my crazy online shopping addiction, we’ll buy only Home Brand food and we’ll figure it out. I’ll even switch to instant coffee, it will be the ultimate sacrifice (kidding) but I’d do it to be able to cuddle with my daughter and husband each night (for those of you not yet accustomed to my humor I am not a food snoot, cheap cheap is good good). I usually find my way out of this feeling after a few days and lots of forced cuddles on Chloe, I know it’s not so easy for Brett but it won’t be forever. We’re doing this for Chloe and I’m so incredibly proud and grateful for everything Brett does for us. He is our number 1 and we miss him every day and count down the days till he is home with us again.
And a big shout out to any FIFO mammas out there with partners working away on horribly long rosters. 3 weeks isn’t that long in comparison to some crazy construction rosters out there at the moment. You’re amazing and your allowed to feel lonely, but just know your never truly alone.