30 Aug 2011

Hestia hates...Tartarus's job

Yeah - but you're all divorced drunks
It was around my birthday earlier this month when I got the telephone call from Tartarus:  'They need me to work another week out here.  Is that a problem?  BTW - happy birthday.'

At the time, it wasn't a problem. Indeed, I need a lead in of about a fortnight to get the house suitably tidy for him coming him coming home from sea and with all the work flooding in for websites, I was secretly glad to have a bonus seven days at my disposal to get the hoover out to suck up the dust wildebeest from the darkest corners of my home.

But working an extra week has its complications: Sonshine has another seven days without his dad.

I broke the news and he was not a happy camper.  Cue much stomping of feet and 'preenage' sighing (that's what I'm calling him - a preenager).  But it was just disappointment that was making him feel like that. He'll get over it, I found myself thinking.

Just disappointment.  He'll get over it

That brought me up short; I have spent my whole life coping with similar 'just disappointments' due to Tartarus's working life.

Want to get married in December? With the Watchnight Service as a precursor to your actual wedding ceremony?  Want to get married in a white cloak? With a fake fur muffler?  Suuuuuure you can. As long as you don't want to marry Tartarus, because he's already married to the merchant navy.

My Christmas wedding had to become a February wedding.  Who the hell wants to get married in February?  Still, the hotel was happy as there isn't much in the way of good celebrations in the middle of winter.

After we got married, the deal was that he would change company - at least change the type contract that he was on so that he was no longer away for six months at a time.  But as the youngest Chief Engineer in his company, he found it very hard to let go of his new power.

And so the six month trips continued.

I suddenly found myself in a twilight world, without sexy vampires, but equally invisible - a married woman with no husband.  How did that work out at parties? Badly.  How did it work out when out on the town with my single girlfriends? Badly.  What happened if I met a nice bloke when I was out with my girlfriends? I was, as Juno (my mother) memorably called it, neither fish nor fowl.  Not part of a couple, but not single either.  It was grim.  So I sat in for months on end and waited.....

And when he came home?

All he wanted to do was go out and party with his friends.

And so our relationship spun apart.

Years later, when we had restarted dating, I promised him that I would NEVER sit around waiting for him to come home again.  We only have one life and I was not going to waste mine.

And yet, here I am, telling our son to get over exactly the same sort of disappointment with his father.

I realise that I am waiting around again.  Back down the list of priorities.  Only this time it affects our son.

I am not a happy camper either.


  1. I remember Sarah Fergusson (of all people, I know!) saying the worst thing was having to be responsible for everything and run everything, then when husband comes home after being away he assumes that head-of-household role and your wifely opnions are discounted. Must be difficult. Is there any support for children/wives of Merchant seamen as there is for RN & Army families? I feel for you, and sonshine. xxx

  2. *you* knew beforehand what you were getting, and what the deal was; unrealistic to expect him to change. Tartarus needs to sort himself out with Sonshine, however ...

  3. Dear Ali, I do hope you are ok, you sound very sad and fed up. You have a really tough gig there. I do not like it at all when Mr B pulls one of his mammoth work stunts - working late late every night and then all weekends, so that the boys never see him - off out before they wake up and back long after they are in bed...like living with a ghost. And the boys really do miss him as do I. And you have this x 10000 times worse. But you sound like a fab mum to Tartarus, he is a lucky boy, and you seem a very resourceful, capable lady so I am sure you will get through this with your customary humour. Oh, and you can always declutter his motorbike DVD collection xxxxx

  4. I wish I could wave a magic wand and sort it out for you. Thinking positive thoughts and sending them your way.xx

  5. So, 15 odd years ago his excuse was that he'd just got a huge promotion and it was really cool. Now, I'm guessing if you brought up changing jobs it'd be "Oh, but in this economic climate..." At heart, though, my sense is that he likes the freedom this life gives him.

    Maybe he needs to understand what the consequences are for Sonshine. I'm sure when he's home Sonshine is so excited that he doesn't tell his dad how disappointed he's been. Does he ever write to Tartarus? And if so, do you encourage him to "write about the good stuff"? As Sonshine gets older, his dad's absences may weigh more since he can understand them, and understand he's being put low on his dad's priority list. Though he's likely to brush it off with "pre-nager" cool.

    I don't know if there's a solution, but I really feel for Sonshine, and for you.

  6. Perhaps you need to remind him that Sonshine will only have one childhood and now is the time when he actually looks up to his Dad, so he'd better make the most of it before Sonshine goes off to live his own life and he regrets the missed opportunities.

  7. Oh Ali, I really feel for you. It must be incredibly tough for Sonshine and for you dealing with his disappointment.
    My dad worked abroad for most of my childhood and as a consequence we've never been very close. It makes it even harder to deal with his dementia.
    I hope you can work something out, you know you've got lots of friends out in blogland who love and care for you (me included). xxx

  8. Vix - thanks (((hug))

    Ania - yes, I point that out to him regularly, but nothing changes.I don't think that being part of a child's childhood means as much to him as it does to me. Maybe. Dunno.

    Inner Whispers - you've pretty much got it there. Sonshine CAN send him e-mails, but isn't that keen on sititng down to the effort of typing and when his dad phones from abroad, the line tends to be a bit dodgy and they talk over each other - so Sonshine doesn't really want to talk to him.

    Legend - thanxoffly ;-)

    Blighty - thanks! I might just clear out his DVD collection as you suggest. Or perhaps his ancient t-shirt collection.....*rubs hands together in secret glee*

    Viv - I know I knew and, on the whole, I'm ok. But it's tricky being the good and bad cop for long periods of time and, frankly, he needs to change his job - back up the North Sea - 4 weeks on 4 off. That will be better as Sonshine gets to the proper shitty teenager stage!

    Mrs E - I don't think that there is. Merchant WAGS fall into two camps. The ones that can cheerfully design and build home extensions with their own bare hands and are very jolly. The others are more like me, living two lives. The problem with WAG A is that when the men come home, they feel redundant and go down the pub/golf/get a mistress. The problem with WAG B is that you have two lives - one of which has to go on hold when hubby comes home. Otherwise, you just end up divorced.

    Thanks chaps - I feel better after getting it off my chest lol! All will be well..... :-)

  9. It must be tough and I agree you really will need some back up when Sonshine gets to the rebellious teenage stage.My sister has spent most of her married life alone as her hubby works abroad,very much like you describe.I hope Tartarus doesn't leave it too late to make a change.Life is too short:)

  10. Dear Alison, My husband went to Afghanistan - 2 months on, one month off for a year and I remember almost running myself ragged with a full time job, two little girls and the worry of it all. It is hard and I feel for you. Sadly, we are what we are. Tartarus is a seafarer. It is up to him to explain his choices to Sonshine. But can I say Sonshine is lucky because while his father is often away, he has a warm, engaged funny mother. Love Lindaxxx

  11. Oh Ali it must be tough for you .. my friend was married to a Cpt in the Merchant Navy and before she had the kids she would often travel with him.. when she had the kids she almost lived at our house.. (she is a little older than me so my mothers friend too} Unfortunately she suffered with depression so badly in the end that she had ECT ...nightmare...

    Although now he is retired they are very happy... now thats the bit that I am personally struggling with ..
    The 24 hours 7 days a week... and too young for it xx

  12. Another thing that I meant to say is that often people don't really 'get' why folks blog. That people you meet on the internet aren't proper friends. Well, I beg to differ. I think that blogging is a bit of a lifeline for me and I am very pleased to have met such lovely, clever, considerate people through blogging. *hugs everyone like a mad thing*

    Ruth - has your D taken early retirement then?

    Linda - wow, my predicament might be irritating, but it's nothing like having your loved one in the front line *salutes you*. How did you cope? Was it sheer busyness that kept you going? And thanks for the nice words about Sonshine's mum lol!

    NS - I hope that he makes a change soon. It's putting a strain on all our relationships, to be honest. But at least it's just the merchant fleet, not the actual navy. I don't know how I'd manage if he was away for long periods AND in danger of being killed or injured. I mean, killing or injuring him feels like MY job ;-)

    Got this in from Tartarus today: 'Have requested flights for Friday, so should be home on Saturday. Really want to see my wee boy before he goes off to Castle Toward.'

    We'll see what flights they actually get for him though.....

    Ali x

  13. This sucks. Both of M's Dads work these patterns (oil industry so similar) and it means he is very determined to be a presence in my life and that of any future children we have. I know that is no comfort but..

    I hope Tertarus can change his job or path but I have faith in Sonshine and faith in you.

  14. Hi Ali, I read your post last night after a glass or two of wine and thought better of commenting at the time. It must be and have been awful for you, but I do think from reading your amazing posts that you are doing a brilliant job with Sonshine. The working away from each other is hard, you spend the first day or so back together behaving like strangers don't you? And it is very easy for resentment to build when you don't talk about how you are feeling (then again not many men are great talkers are they?) I do think that time apart when your children are young is time you don't get back, but this is only something you can realise for yourself. Keep on keeping on xxx ps won't be commenting for a couple of weeks as of on hols

  15. Oh dear that does sound rough. I quite like the idea of a girlfriend who disappears for a week or two at a time (after the first six months of non-stop bonking dies down a bit) but six months? That's a terribly long time. I hope you can work it out and that T can find a better contract, because that just isn't fair on your or S.

  16. Hello Alisaon,
    I've been missing in action most of the year thanks to the cyclone back.
    Blighty and Linda in Chile gave me a nudge to visit you.
    gosh, what a bloody dilemma! It's a real no-won situation isn't it?
    I know that fellas can find it a bit difficult to put themselves in other people's shoes, but I wonder if the Sailor can remember his own childhood and imagine how Sonshine must be feeling without his dad around a lot, or even with predictability?
    Could be worth a go.
    I'm sending you a North Queensland cheer up hug and the dodgy Brothers' Seal of Approval as a Wonderful Mum.

  17. Louise - how is the cyclone back these days? Am honoured to have the dodgy Brothers Deal of Approval (((hug)))

    Looby - It HAS crossed my mind that I COULD get a man in while Tartarus is away, but I think my friends would grass me up to hubby when he came home *grin*

    Mrs P - ooooh commenting whilst vino in hand is quite dangerous! I have some Facebook bruises that I could show you lol! Thank you for your kind words and I hope you have a BRILLIANT time away your hols!

    Siobhan - it can be grim. Most of the time it's ok because we keep busy. But school hols are VERY grim when you are a parent wondering what to do with a fed-up kid. And extra week of being dadless just finishes the whole thing off lovely - not! Sounds like your chap will be a lovely dad :)

    Ali x

  18. Hey Ali, I s'pose you're now tearing round tidying up ready for Saturday?

    I reeeeeaaaaallllly want to type that T is being a PIG, but its obviously not as clear-cut as that.

    Could you look at it together financially - does he HAVE to do these 6-week-away contracts??

    Like other peeps have said, life is short.

    btw errant father of my 2 is up in glasgow - he hasn't seen them for 18 months... give him a glasgae kiss from me next time you're in town, would ya? ;) xx

  19. Alison, if your photo is even roughly representative, I'm sure you wouldn't be short of offers to warm up those chilly night on Ochterjockterwhiskymuckty or wherever it is you live. Anyway moving swiftly on...

  20. looby - as my friends will testify it's not even remotely representative. It was taken one day directly after the hairdressers had been visited. But I appreciate the sentiment ;-)

    Trashsparkle - want me to go and Give Him A Visit when I'm up in Glasgow this week? Tartarus has been hit in the face by a baseball bat. Twice. Neither of which was by me, so he's got quite a unique 'look' going on....which some find a little intimidating ;-)

  21. ooh, would you? ;) even better if you popped along with Tartarus, and his odd-looking face...

    glad to hear he hasn't driven you to bat-wielding yet. ouch that he's been hit, especially twice. we've just done a talk at work about handling aggressive behaviour - left me feeling its so much more likely to happen now! x

  22. Oh Dear, I seem to be the only bloke here.

    *scrotum immediately shrinks*

    Harden up.

    Your man is doing the best he can to earn a good wage to keep you in a comfortable style.

    Ignore Consuella and the numerous offspring scattered across Mexico and most of S. America, it's you and Sonshine he comes back to every time.

    Regardless of his absolutely idylic male lifestyle, doing blokeish things when he wants, secure in the knowledge of a warm and loving family to return to, feel sorry for him.

    Does he really want to sit up every night drinking beer and watching sport and porn?

    Does he really want to go to bed every night with a slight buzz-on without having to discuss the "relationship"?

    Does he really want to be able to use the toilet without being reminded to "Put the bloody seat down"?

    Yes he does.

    But he still misses you.

    A lot.

    That's being a bloke.

    Love him as he obviously loves you and Sonshine.

  23. Oh Hestia, you are very definitely not alone! There is a whole group of us Merchant Navy WAGS (both A and B types) who chat daily through our Facebook group, creatively titled "Merchant Navy WAGS". You can just search us out on Facebook or send a message to Ellie Leader. It's a closed group so our friends, family and coworkers are forced to hear all of our daily rants but those who understand are always available to listen. Big hugs! http://www.facebook.com/groups/54680200716/


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