When Staying Calm as a PW Matters.

staying calm (1)My daughter was two-year-old, and I’d made plans to meet my girlfriend, Melissa, for dinner. Within minutes of having drinks delivered to our table, my beautiful little girl spilled a full glass of coke and “something” all over my side of the table where the whole drink made its way to my pants and the seat I was in.

So what did I do?

I immediately grabbed a few napkins and moved my daughter out of range of the spill and began cleaning up. When I finished, we were both wet and sticky from my drink. Our excellent waiter immediately brought me a new glass along with crayons and a coloring book. While my daughter entertained herself with her new toy, Melissa and I chatted, laughed, and shared our frustrations of having our then Navy husbands gone.

Despite the earlier splash adventure, we managed to enjoy the time we had together.

The next day Melissa called me and said she was impressed with my calmness and patience when Paige spilled my drink. “I don’t know how you do it, and I would’ve gone crazy and want to leave,” Melissa voiced to me. 

Say What?

Looking back on that day, all I wanted to do was run away from the restaurant and hide in a corner to question why I didn’t bring toys, even if it was just a coloring book, for my child.  A good mom would have done that.

Yes, I was seriously thinking this.

In my eyes, I had failed at keeping my child distracted so she wouldn’t spill my drink.  I was anything but calm at the moment.

I know I can be calm in a situation. But I fail on many occasions.

Can you relate?

Winging it as a Mom

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In those moments when calmness eludes me and panic sets in, all I want to do is call or text Jeff with my aggravation. ( mind you this happened 23 years ago, there was no texting or emojis) If something like that would’ve happened now, I would’ve expressed myself on the phone or texted him with those little emojis.

But aren’t we all like that?  As a mom, I will get emotional, state my reason for getting upset and look for a solution anything from grounding to something that will bring unhappy consequences.

Even today, raising two adult girls and a teenager, I’m on a wing and a prayer when it comes to motherhood and life. My take-off and landing percentage is about 50% between smooth and rocky. But in my struggles and many seasons of motherhood, I’ve learned a few things about myself:

1. Take time for yourself. Do something every day for you. When my child spills a drink, or my teenager acts out, it’s then when I go hide in my bathroom or go outside, breathe, and remind myself that this too will pass.

2. Do your best. Try not to nag yourself with thoughts of “I messed up.” I’ll give all my best in this season of my life.  I also look to others for help and support because I’ve learned my best isn’t necessarily a solo job.

3. Laugh. Laugh at those spills, those arguments. I’m not perfect, and I make mistakes. There are days where I want to cry and be mad.  In the end, all that stuff eventually works its self out.

I’m glad I’ve learned these things about myself as I’m constantly putting them into action. Just last week, I  got upset with my son, raised my voice and threw a shoe. Don’t worry I didn’t throw anything at my teenager, but oh boy, I wanted to! It was about respect, homework, and boundaries. All the big issues that are at the forefront of raising a teenager.  I was anything but calm! ( Melissa are you reading this?)

When my rage passed, – a couple hours later- I used these things I learned of walking away, telling myself I’m not perfect in the way I reacted, and eventually laughed to calm myself down.

Packed with Expectations

Although there are days when I’m calm, whether it was sitting in that restaurant many years ago or today, I still struggle as a mom:

  • The expectations I put on myself.
  • The comparison game I play against other mothers.
  • The guilt I carry in my less-than-calm reactions.

But to hear my friend say she didn’t see me freak-out or scream gives me hope and encouragement. That maybe, I’m not a bad mom after all.

So hang on to that. Whatever season you’re traveling in remember to carry with you a bag of grace, hope, love. You might even bring a shoe or two to throw at something, not a someone. LOL!

We all fly a plane packed with mom challenges. I’d love to know what your challenges are and if you’ve been encouraged by someone. Leave a comment and let’s start a mom conversation.

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fullsizeoutput_4b1 Take-off and Landings, Always, Tiffany

How I Found my Window Seat of Confidence

How I Found my Window Seat of Confidence

I’m usually not the one who does the travel planning for a trip. I leave that to the experienced travel companion of mine. I just layout where I want to go, the dates we are available and the sights and restaurants I would like to visit. Once I communicate the desired plans to my husband, I can focus on the more important things. Like what to pack! Hey, I have my priorities in check.

A few months ago I took the left seat in planning a trip that was just my daughters and me. It was my youngest daughter’s, Jillian, 21st birthday. She had asked if we could plan a trip to Carmel and Monterey area of California and visit a winery. Once I said yes, I received a detailed list of what my daughter wanted to do and see. With wishlist in hand, it was time for me to get my wheels turning and planning.

My doubtfulness made its arrival

Have you planned something where you have it all mapped from start to finish? Well, I had the arrival of her best friend, Rebecca, to come hours before Jillian was going to get to the house. I envisioned the look of shock as Jillian witnessed her big surprise as she walked into the house.

Unfortunately, that ideal surprise did not play out the way I had hoped. At midnight Rebecca arrived, twelve hours later than expected. I had to adjust a few things to make Rebecca’s arrival a secret and make up an excuse to have Jillian go with me to pick up “a friend” at the airport. Let me just say, Jillian was super surprised! “Mom our family doesn’t do surprises, cause no one can hold a secret” she kept telling me. Little did she know!

IMG_1170With just three hours of sleep that night we woke up excited and ready to enjoy our girls trip. When we finally arrived at our destination, got our rental car and googled mapped our way to our little Air B&B, Jillian said, “Mom, you’re the airport travel queen, you’ve got this down!” What? What they didn’t know was that I was sweating, and my stomach was in knots. The fear of having to do this all by myself scared me!

Why?

1. I didn’t have the security of having Jeff with me.
2. I had to google map everything. I know I can do it, but there is something about having a husband that deals with maps on a daily occurrence.
3. Jeff can navigate his way through any airport all I have to do is follow him.

For me, this trip was a life lesson that I will never forget.

Unpacking the courage I’d been looking for

I’m sure at some point in your life you have heard someone say that they had to travel the world to discover themselves. We all have that desire to find out what it is that makes you, you.

Before this trip was in the planning stages, I found myself praying of what would bring me joy, and renew confidence that I’d lost somewhere between raising kids to having adult children — now. What dreams or goals do I want to accomplish for myself?

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Ever had those thoughts?

I know that I’m not the only PW that struggles with longings of joy and looking for that once lost desire to reach a goal. I know that many of us can’t exactly runaway to California in wishes to discover a new found confidence or yearning we have.

I will say this: I learned a few things about myself, including ~

1. I know that I’m capable of planning a trip from point A to point B. Setting some personal goals that I want to do.
2. Navigating is not as hard as I make it out to be. Just gotta write it out.
3. Don’t be fearful of taking the lead when things are not going as planned.
4. Be flexible in the plan. If what you’re hoping for doesn’t happen as expected, try another way.

With all that being said, doing something that was entirely out of my comfort zone made me discover courage that I didn’t think I had.

We all have that within us, what about you?

Whatever it might be my hope and prayer is that we never stop traveling to find those little discoveries that are deep in our hearts and continue to grow in what God has for us.

I challenge you to find something that will make you get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you need to…

Call a friend that you would like to get to know more.
Start that exercise program that you keep telling yourself that you’re going to do.
Plan a little getaway with your husband.

 

If you are thinking about something, do it! Tell me what it is. I’d love to hear about it.

fullsizeoutput_4b1 Take-off and Landings Always, Tiffany

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Coffee in the Air

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Coffee in the Air talk (1)I’ve had the privilege of talking with a few PW’s about their window view of what it’s like being married to a pilot.  I’m calling them “Coffee in the Air” and it’s a series I hope to share at least once a month with you and that you hear from different PW’s on how they navigate this crazy, sometimes turbulence yet, wonderful, life we live.

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For my first chat, I had the fun opportunity to visit with my friend, Lisa North who I met a few years ago when Jeff and I were in the beginning stages of moving back to Texas.  As soon as we met, Lisa and I connected as if we’d known each other all our lives. 

So let me tell you a little bit about this amazing lady. Lisa lives in Dallas with her husband, Jacob, and their 14-year-old daughter, Sarah. For over five years, Lisa has been a Real Estate agent, handling residential and commercial properties”, as well as dabble a little in investment properties. Lisa is also the Cheif Operating Officer of the North Household, and she represents her title with honor!

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A dose of southern charm and Texas strong, Lisa is a woman full of love, strength and a heart full of passion for God! So listen in as Lisa, and I discuss the ever-changing flight plan of a Pilot Wife.

As we were catching up and talking about our husbands and flying, Lisa shared that her family is in a different season right now with Jacob’s job.  A few years ago, he flew over to “the other side” and now works at the SWA Headquarters in the Communications department.  “I miss him flying…just the other day I said, ‘I hope you fly soon!’ You get used to your husband gone for three to four days at a time; I needed me time!”

I had to laugh (and could relate) when Lisa told me, after sipping her coffee, that when he starts to get on her nerves he leaves and when she starts to miss him he comes back.  I’m sure you could relate! I know I can!

When I asked Lisa what she enjoyed about having Jacob take-off for a few days, she cheerfully stated,”I have complete control over the remote. I don’t’ have to cook dinner. I have time where it’s not distracted.”

With Jacob working at Headquarters he doesn’t fly as much — he only flies once a month to stay current. “Right now it’s been three to four months since he last flew. He’s been home every night,” Lisa says. One of the most important things about having her husband home every night is that he is there when their daughter has a special event or birthday.  Lisa opened up and said, “That’s something not to take for granted. He doesn’t fly as much, and that’s okay.”

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So what does Lisa say is her biggest struggle after all these years? As long as she and husband have been married, Jacob has worked in the office more than flown combined. “I still experience those PW’s challenges of trying to do it all. I feel everybody needs me and I’m running around crazy! The most significant challenge for me is balancing.” Can I get an Amen? I can totally understand that! 

Lisa continued to open up to me about another challenge she goes through which is maintaining and developing friendships. “Friends are essential in my life. “Over the years, I’ve realized that friends change throughout our seasons of life. Right now I’m in a season where I’m don’t have a close-knit group. I’m 47 and friendships are harder,” she tells me after taking her last sip of coffee. Lisa has two best friends that live in Georgia and when they reconnect it’s like as if they had just spoken the day before.  Those type of friendships are worth more gold!

I asked Lisa what advice she would give to other PW ’s, and I have to say I will fly away with some of her suggestions:

1. Try not to beat yourself up feeling as if you have to do it all yourself. It gets better cause you to learn to adapt to each season. You find a new way to cope!

2. Communicate constantly. Keep it open at all times, especially when he is home.

3. Cling to the Word, or find a devotional, that you read to get through those challenging times as you are navigating your way through family and raising children. 

4. Learn the art of adjusting. Especially in areas of raising kids. We must learn to grow with the changes and roll with those unexpected flight plans of life.

As I was talking with Lisa, she said something that was so profound it has stuck with me ever since, “Just remember it does get better cause you get better dealing with it” I don’t’ know about you, but that is excellent advice!

As we started to fly into our final descent, I had to ask what sort of things she enjoys when she’s not selling properties, maneuvering teenage life, or sharing the remote with her hubby. Surprisingly,  we discovered we both like shopping, taking walks, the chance to read in solitude with a nice warm cup of coffee —and hanging on a wing and prayer raising a teenager!

Lisa loves her coffee! She almost made me spit out my last sip of coffee when she told me that she loves going to Starbucks with her coffee and stare aimlessly at her laptop and do mindless thinking. What PW wouldn’t want to do that?

When our “Coffee in the Air” time landed, Lisa and I said our goodbyes promising not to let so much time go by without taking again.  I’m sure we could have kept on talking. But we both had responsibilities that require our attention and love. Until next time!

Love to know what connected with you in our conservation.

What kind of future “Coffee in the Air” chats would like to know more about it?

 

Take-off and Landings Always, Tiffany

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Daughters of a Pilot…

IMG_6289Raising kids and having my husband travel comes with its challenges. There have been times that I’ve questioned my mothering skills and have become so frustrated that I would cry if his trips were one day too many.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my adult daughters how they felt about their dad traveling. More importantly, I was curious how they saw me as I was carrying that extra parenting bag on my own.

Paige, my oldest daughter, was little more descriptive in her answers. I guess you could say the firstborn view came out in her. Paige was born into the military life with Jeff who was gone for 6 months at a time and was surrounded by other kids who had their dad gone for long periods as well. Paige was a strong-willed child and still is. She would let you know if she was unhappy and she was definitely not afraid to speak her mind.  Now that she in her early twenties she has become an amazing young woman. She is independent and strong, like her mother. She works full-time for a start-up company in Austin.  Surprisingly, she and her sister, Jillian, live together!

My youngest daughter, Jillian, has always been the wise, old soul kind of girl. She often tells me to settle down, or says, “Mom, you gotta pick your battles with Tobin or Adin.”  Jillian helped me a great deal when I was dealing with health issues, and she immediately stepped up and helped out with family responsibilities that I couldn’t handle at that time. I will always be grateful and blessed for her help and attitude. She is in her early twenties now and works at a Flour Mill. In addition to her job, she is a part-time student at a Junior College in Austin studying  Organic Farming.

Here are the five thought-provoking questions I had asked my girls….

  1. What’s it like having a dad who travels all the time?

Jillian: I’ve never thought it was that weird because that’s how it’s always been! It’s cool that any city I go to he has recommendations. The opportunities to travel both as a kid with the family and now as an adult is amazing and all the trips we’ve been able to take because of his job is incredible… not something to take for granted!

Paige: Kind of annoying. But it just becomes life. At some point, I realized how weird it would be if dad was home all the time and how annoying that would be. 

As a little girl, teenager and now in my early twenties?

  • Because everything was about ‘me’ when I was little, it felt like a personal thing. Like “oh dad doesn’t care if he misses my birthday.” – not true 
  • As a teenager, I started adopting my own independence. I didn’t take it as personally. It was just the way our house worked. I got to have his car when he was home. 
  • Now, I’m an adult. It doesn’t bother me. I learned to crave the space from growing up the way I did, watching mom and dad orbit around each other to an extent. Occasionally, I’ll call dad and the call with go straight to voicemail and I know he’s flying; I just know to call him in an hour or two and fix problems myself. 

2. Did you learn to play-off on Dad and I when he was on a trip? How was I when dad was gone?

Jillian: Mom is the person to ask about most things but for the “big” decisions you talk it through with mom and get the final vote of approval from dad. Dad’s harder to talk to sometimes and sometimes more strict… but I think that’s based off military experience, not pilot life. Mom was always firm on “I’m the same person no matter if dads here or not” so not much of difference.

Paige: Not consciously? Mom, obviously, took the brunt of the parenting just because of proximity. 

  • Was I scared of Dad for a long time? Yeah. He was the hammer. He would get home and whatever trouble I got in 3 days ago was suddenly remembered. It was like “ah I love my dad but he’s scary.” He’s really tall and his voice is really deep, it as a lot for me sometimes.  
  • Mom was a little more stressed out with dad gone. She had 2 kids to take to school, a dinner to cook alone. Then, we decided to add another lil baby in the mix. At a few points, mom had a job so she was doing all that plus working with dad being gone. She constantly had to tell her friends “oh Jeff is flying, he can’t be here.” In a world where a women’s place is based on her husband’s success (and arguably, availability) I think that was hard. Some of mom’s friends just didn’t get it I think. 

 

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3. Did you enjoy your dad being gone? Cause I recall a few times you girls asked when he was leaving.

Jillian: Sometimes! Because he gets antsy when he’s home too long! But also sometimes I’d think “hmm when is dad gonna be home for longer than a day or two?” when we were working on a project or he got called in semi-unexpectedly.

Paige: Yes, sometimes. We were a house full of girls. He was (and is) this giant man who booms around the house. I’m making him sound like a giant, but he’s not. He just takes up space. Like any human does. 

  • Me and dad butted heads a lot as I got older. When I was mad at him, it was great having him gone. I didn’t have to deal with tip-toeing around him trying to be nice when I was fuming. 

4. Were you ever worried about Dad flying? If so, Why?

Jillian: No. I think flying with him in smaller planes 1-on-1 and seeing his knowledge really solidified how much knowledge he has about flying/air safety that I can’t even grasp.  He’s also an observant guy who always talks about issues in the news/scary stories openly and I’ve never doubted he can think smart and quick to manage any situation.

Paige:  During 9/11 yes. I remember that day. 

  • When your dad is a pilot, there’s just always a certain amount of fear associated with the profession. Being 30,000 Ft. in the air in a metal tube isn’t a natural place for humans to be. So, of course, it’s a little scary. You have to become comfortable with accepting the fact something bad might happen. You have to trust that things will turn out. 
  • When dad started flying with a gun and going to the shooting range, that’s when the danger of what he did set in a little bit. 
  • When I was little I remember sobbing when he left. I thought he was never going to come back. I totally just neglected the fact that he already flew airplanes every day. 
  • There was a night in college when I woke up from a dream and dad had died in a flying accident. It was 5am and I called mom and dad. It’s a scary dream, my worst nightmare, but it’s just a fear. 

5. What have you learned by having a dad who’s a pilot?

Jillian:  Airports aren’t scary or stressful unless you make them that way. Time management is the key to life.

Paige: Traveling is fun. 

  • Traveling is stressful. 
  • Traveling is taxing, emotionally and physically. 
  • Traveling is worth it. 
  • I will forever have a love for aviation. If I get to retire early, or ever get to have time in my 30s, I would like to learn how to fly. Just for fun. 
  • The space mom and dad had in their relationship is rare, and they made space work for them. They had to establish a lot of trust. As an adult, I’ve realized I couldn’t live with someone who comes home and lives in my world every day. Having a dad that traveled and a mom that stayed at home made me live with 2 very independent parents. They trusted each other and were really a team in both providing for the family and raising us. For the most part, they made it look easy, even though I know it wasn’t. 

Just for fun, I asked the girls what they told friends if they asked what their dad’s job was…

Jillian: My dad flies airplanes and its cool. My friends thought the same thing. Plain and simple.

Paige: What he did for work and what he did in child rearing are 2 different things, but related. 

  • When I say my dad is a pilot, people think it’s cool. It allowed him to do adopt a pilot with my 5th-grade class. Now when I say my dad is a pilot, it’s usually followed up with explaining how much training he had to do to get there — I have a lot of friends who are scared to fly. I’m like “get over it, my dad is a pilot. He literally has to go through so much training.”
  • But, raising us, he made me f*** work for s***. Sorry for the profanity but it’s true! 
  • When I left for college and didn’t have a car, was living with 14 other college students in a house, and had little money my friends were like “Wait, what? Won’t your dad help you with school? Why do you have to have a job? So mean.”
  • Now I describe him as an airline pilot, highly intelligent, if not conservative-leaning, hard-working dad who worked really hard so we could live comfortably growing up. He loves me, he loves our family, but he’ll also give me advice + compliments sometimes at weird times. Imagine being home although Christmas and having your dad say “Have your own finances together before you get married, you should buy your own house.” Or running a half marathon and at mile 8 having him say “Just so you know, I really like who you are as an adult.” Dad is a low-key feminist, but he wouldn’t say that. But he is. He has always prompted us to provide for ourselves, be able to be independent, to not need to depend on anyone else. 
  • When I tell my friends those stories, they laugh. You never really know what dad is going to say or do next. He might rent a plane and fly to Tampa, he might buy a tiny boat, he might have to have an emergency landing on a trip. His life is more exciting than he thinks it is. 

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WOW! After reading their honest answers, I cried. But a proud cry.  As a mom, I felt like I wasn’t there for them as I wanted to be. I was surviving from sun-up to sundown. I yelled, slammed doors from time to time, and I’d cry in my closet or behind a locked door.locked.  I tried hard not to reveal the ugly side of me, but more often than not, I did just that.

Lest you think I forgot about my son for this interview, I promise I didn’t! I was going to ask Tobin these questions as well, being a teenager I knew his answers would only be one-word sentences. So I’ll wait a few more years to ask.

If you’re a young mom, a mom in the teenage season or have adult children just remember that you’re doing a great job. Your kids see that.  I had a friend tell me, “The seasons you are in with motherhood become different only cause you get different.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

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Take-off and Landings, Always Tiff