Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Life as an oil drillers wife

I have grown to love Wednesdays. They usually mean that either:

A. My husband is halfway through his hitch.
B. My husband is coming home
 Nate and I right after he got home in Jan.
For those that don't already know, Nate (along with pretty much every other able-bodied man in our region) works as a floorhand on an oil rig in North Dakota. When he first approached the idea of working in a State 12 hours away, I was pretty serious about telling him no way in hell. I had watched the reality shows that portrayed a job that was comparable in danger to fishing on "Deadliest Catch." After some prompting from Nate (I think begging may be a more suitable verb) I did my own research. While his job is dangerous in comparison to the comfy desk job he held before, he works for a drilling company that holds very high safety standards...for a drilling company at least. I actually worry more about his drive to and from work than the hours he is out in the field. 

When I finally started to come around, I had other concerns. He was leaving a secure, good paying job.  Most other people we know taking work in North Dakota were unemployed and fleeing a local economy where the "Help Wanted" section of the newspaper often lists a measley 4 or so ads. 

I was worried about his time away from Eldon. Ever since Eldon was born, Nate and I worked alternating shifts in an effort to keep from placing him in daycare. We never saw eachother unless we exhausted ourselves by staying up late, but Eldon was used to Dada being his sole caretaker for 4 hours a day and more on the weekends.

Also, I was quitting a job I loved with coworkers who had become my best friends. Slow nights at Starbucks were my escape where I could bitch about chores, money, family, diapers, and more and know that I was in good (the best) company. I knew I would miss that outlet and I do. Alot.

I was reluctant to be alone so much. I have always considered myself independent, but when you get into a routine and are comfortable with having a live in spider killer, lightbulb changer, and high things reacher, it takes awhile to realize that those jobs are now your own. The first night Nate was gone, I put the garbage outside the door like I always did. Up until then, it had been my job to put the garbage outside after dinner.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Nate took it to the trash cans in the morning on his way to work.  Imagine my astonishment then, when I opened the door to run errands the next morning and it was still sitting there. I have learned that our garbage cans are reaaallllllly far away and that taking out the trash is not easy when you are home alone with a toddler. Oh well, we adapt. Single mothers make me look weak.

It seems that every day I am approached by a friend or family member that is interested in the money they  could make for the trade off of a 2 week on, 2 week off schedule. I thought that I would write this to answer  the questions we hear alot of and offer an honest inside look of what life is really like as a wife whose husband is gone as much as he is home.

The ups? (overall, the arrangement is an "up") The pay, obviously. We also get incredible incentives, bonuses, and benefits. Thanks to the boom, we can count on some job security for the next few years as well. The time off each month opens up opportunities for family trips, outings, and other fun things.  We have been on alot of trips lately and are able to stay for longer periods of time. Even the day trips are no longer limited to weekends.
Also, it is true what they say: distance makes the heart grow fonder.  This job has been more positive than negative in terms of what it has done for our marriage. 
Eldon has adjusted incredibly well. He spends more QUALITY time with both Nate and I than he used to. The result is a secure kid who literally waves us out the door on date nights. I can't describe how great it feels to know that our son is comfortable enough to know that we will be back soon. He loves having his Daddy home but understands when he is gone at work.

The downs...the downs come in moments. It's that moment when I have something to tell Nate and then realize that I can't call him until 3:00 the next day. Or the moment when I realize that due to his schedule combined with other obligations, the only weekend close enough to Eldon's Birthday to throw him a party is also our Anniversary. Nate also missed the last Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  He is  set up to miss them all again this year. Again, we adapt.
The evenings are the worst. Eldon is in bed at 7:30 and (we don't have cable) so I am left to my own thoughts and the company of a glass of cabernet sauvignon. I read through books to pass the time and text Nate good night even though he wont get it until he is off work or wakes up. (He works nights one hitch, days the next and so on.)
Even though his particular company takes good care of him, there is still a danger aspect. There is gas, heavy equipment, and mistakes that would be easy to make but with very serious consequences. Random drug tests are crucial as I don't want the crew crackhead swinging beams above my husband's head.

What does Nate think? He loves it. Honestly. He is in the best shape of his life regardless of his claim that the labor part is nowhere near as intense as people make it seem. He thrives on the hands-on work and has told me that he could never return to a desk. His shrinking waistband has left him with incredible energy and inspired me to get into shape as well.

This is where we are at right now. I have decided to return to work this summer and place Eldon in daycare (which he is going to absolutely LOVE.) This will add a whole new aspect to our lives and my thoughts may very well change. But like I said, we adapt.

No comments:

Post a Comment