Last night kicked off my entry into the world of night shifts. For two weeks I’m working from 7pm to 3am. I left the house just as the boys were getting ready for dinner. The three-year old Mini-Me didn’t like that. He cried and simpered as I got ready to leave.
As much as that was painful to witness, it wan’t, and isn’t the worst part of this.
When my wife and I were engaged to be married, she was visiting me at the apartment we would move into together after the wedding. At one point, a fire call came in for a search and rescue in the middle of the night. I kissed her goodbye, and told her I’d be back as soon as I could. The fire call was just up the road from my parents’ house, and ended up stretching into the very wee hours of the morning. When it was over, I crashed at the house, figuring on going back to the apartment first thing in the morning.
When I did get back, I found a very upset fiancee. The whole time I was gone, she worried about me. Then, as the night turned into morning, and I hadn’t returned or called, she worried more. When morning came, she’d not slept much, and I still hadn’t come back. We talked about it, and she told me about how she used to worry about her father when he went to work as a police officer every day. Even as a small child, she worried that something terrible could happen. Now I was doing it to her all over again. Of course I apologized, and promised I wouldn’t do it to her again, that I’d at least call the next time I was out.
Six years later I changed careers from IT, and entered into the exact same profession her father had gone into. I’d done it again, and I would continue to do it for the foreseeable future. It was worse now, with two little boys that I left her with each night as I went to the academy, or started a shift.
In spite of this, in spite of me forcing her to single-parent a lot of the time, as well as run her shop and maintain the house as needed…her support has never wavered. When things got tough and I missed out on a job, she didn’t try to sway me to something else, something safer. When I got hired at my first job, she was as happy as I was. When unfavorable circumstances led to me decision to leave the security of that job, she was the first to say “You’re better off without them.” She stood by me as I drove hours to interviews, and each time I went she scanned the web for school and housing for us and the boys, in silent preparation in case it came through.
When I landed the current job, which promised me weird night shift hours, mandatory overtime, and the probability of so many missed holidays, events, and family time….she still hasn’t wavered. Not even a little. Her support of me is as strong as it has ever been, in the face of….who knows what goes through her mind every time I go.
My biggest regret has nothing to do with the work. I love the work. My biggest regret is that I’m putting her through something I promised, and at the time very much meant- that I’d never do again. Instead of keeping that promise, I put her through it every. single. night.