There is a special camaraderie among fishing families. Especially with fishing wives. I’m sure it’s the same among many groups, right? Like Nurses seem to all ‘get’ each other’s frustrations and share in their knowing winks…Teachers, also are a good example. In the trenches is better when there’s someone along side you. For Fishermen’s Wives, we don’t hang out together all day or anything… but when we do see one another, we just know all of the little intricacies that each of our families have to deal with, enjoy, fear and love about being a Fishing Family. And you feel better. Just knowing that someone else knows, and gets it, and has been there is really, really good.
Switching seasons is always a tricky thing in fishing. There is SO much to do and to worry about. Everything in your world changes at once. The gear, the hours, the location, the storage and selling…the money… every aspect of our particular fishing operation changes 3 times each year. Our whole life, including every family member is sort of uprooted during this time. As one season winds down, the fishing (ok, the money) dwindles too. As your funds begin to wither, up springs great hope for the upcoming season, tempered by the familiar panicky-worry of having NO IDEA AT ALL if the season will be good and therefore if you will actually have any income at all.
You know what’s funny (and I don’t mean actually funny)? This is about the 42nd time we’ve done a ‘season change’ and the circumstances of this change have been by far, the most difficult. When your current season hasn’t been great… and your bank account is as dry as the Sahara, but you can’t fish for the next thing until a certain date, and your crew has bills to pay, and you have to invest in new (very very costly) gear, and on top of it all you have mechanical failures… ummmm, things can get real dicey, real quick.
It’s been a tough one this time. And, late last night I did what any woman would do who’s husband is gone when she’s stressed out. I got on Facebook. And this time, I’m grateful I did. I stumbled upon a blog from another fisherman’s wife. Ahhhhh. Just reading her entries helped so much. Then, I sent a message to my real life friend Becky, who is also a fisherman’s wife. Immediately (man I love the internet) she messaged back. She has been there, she gets it and she knows how it is. Yes! Yes! Yes! That is all I needed.
I’m lifting a quote from one of my fav musicians today to sum up. ‘We weren’t meant to do this alone’ It’s actually a biblical precept. We were made to be ‘in communion’ or part of a community of people, lives & hearts in common, that encourage and sharpen and love one another. It goes against the typical first glance at the Independent Fishermen. Unless you actually get into their worlds for a bit. Then, you see and hear those strong, fearless men reach out to their radios and call to ‘just check in’ with the guy who is fishing a few miles away. The fishing wives are the same. And so you find yourself on a blog at midnight, calming or being calmed by another fisherman’s wife ~ one who understands that not hearing a word from our husbands for 3 days or not having any idea what day he might be home is actually normal for us, and who completely understand what trying to be both mom and dad is like. Only these other fishermen’s wives would know how it feels to take the kids camping by yourself. And to wrangle all your kids and gear and set up the tent ~ and to attempt to explain to the other ‘2 parent campers’ that yes, your husband would have loved to be here, dealing with all of this, but he’s out fishing. Then the inevitable look of disgrace, the explanation that no it’s not ‘fishing for fun’ while my kids run amok and I nearly impale myself on a tent stake… he’s ‘working-fishing’. And no, he doesn’t ‘get weekends off’. I’ve learned to avoid the looks of disbelief (from the women, who are sure my husband is an ogre) and envy (from the men who wish they were out fishing instead). I’m so, so glad to know a handful of fishermen’s wives who get it. They wouldn’t question it. Instead, they’d ask how the season was going as they helped me drag an ice chest and without a blink would yell at my kids to stop running around and to help out. Then, they’d stick a mug in my hand and share their crazy stories and make me feel right at home. We are not meant to do this alone.