A few months ago, my wife wrote a piece about the life of a fire wife, and mom of twins. I thought the article was amazing and shows the daily struggles of being married to a firefighter and raising twin 3 year old girls. Now, I’d like to give you my perspective.
I am a firefighter on a fairly busy suburban fire department. My shifts consist of 8 am till 8 am the following morning. 24 hours on duty, followed by 24 off. Then another 24 hours working, followed by 5 days off. The days off are great for many firefighters who often work a second job or take additional shifts to supplement their income. I can’t. I can’t because I have the most beautiful, smart, silly 3 1/2 year old twin daughters a daddy could ever ask for, and my wife is nothing short of a saint for putting up with all three of us.
It’s 8 am and I’m getting off my shift at work. It was an average 24 hour tour: 4 fire alarms, a brush (woods) fire, 7 medical emergencies consisting of everything from psychological transports for mental evaluation, to highly intoxicated folks who want to ‘sleep it off’ at the local ER, to a gentleman having a heart attack. This is what we do. We go into chaos and make sense of it. I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter because they help people by going into whatever craziness is going on in their lives and making order of it. Maybe an hour of restless sleep between “runs” (that’s what we refer to emergency calls as). I’m exhausted and the lines on the highway home can sometimes get blurry. I look so forward to seeing my wife and twins when I get home from work.
As I walk into my house, it sounds like the circus is upstairs in their room and a pack of elephants is running around, I swear! When I enter the house the dogs start barking uncontrollably… It’s no wonder the neighbors in the other condos surrounding ours can’t stand us. We are “that family”. I go up the stairs to see my family and walk into complete and utter chaos. One twin is completely naked. She took off her diaper and hid it somewhere in their room and won’t tell mommy where. The other twin is screaming hysterically for her one favorite toy that she can’t find, and refuses to look for. They have pulled out literally every toy from their toy-box and article of clothing from their closet is scattered through their room.
My poor wife looks like she has been in a war. She has, what we call at work, the “thousand yard stare”; the look of being completely overwhelmed. I give hugs and kisses all around and hug my wife a little longer, asking quietly how her night went. Before she can answer, the toy searcher is pulling on my arm crying for a bottle of milk because the juice mommy got her with breakfast isn’t good enough. She won’t stop screaming until I get her milk. I change the little nudist and put her jammies back on, before I can go get milk, she is on my shoulders trying to pull off my glasses. I can tell my wife just wants to tell me about how her night was but the twins are relentless. What was that about communication being vital to a marriage?
By the time we get this minor crisis under control, the aforementioned milk has been poured on the floor, and there have been who knows how many tantrums. My wife just wants time to be able to be a human and not the supermom our world demands. I tell her I will watch the girls while she takes a shower and she vanishes for two hours. I understand; its the only time in her day where she can be by herself and look mindlessly at her phone, or cry, or do whatever girls do when they take two hour showers. I’m exhausted from work, the girls sense my weakness and pounce on it… More accurately, they missed daddy and they love that we rough house and build forts out of blankets the things that daddies do. There are not nearly enough hours in the day to get everything that we need done, and before long it’s bedtime and the girls have finally settled down.. My alarm is set for 5:30 the next morning for my next shift. “I love you babe, how was your day yesterday?” I kiss my wife on the forehead.
For me the hardest part of being a firefighter and twin dad is balance. At work, no situation can phase me. I see humanity at it’s worst every day. I have seen things nobody should see; I bring order out of chaos. At home I am completely overwhelmed and turned into an anxious basketcase by two 3-year-olds, the very people I love more than anything in this world. Recently a magazine rated firefighter as the most stressful job in the nation, ahead of surgeons and military leaders. I would ask them to come to a morning at my household. I worry about the fact that in my line of work, some dads don’t make it home to their kids, and though I can’t dwell on it and be good at what I do, it secretly haunts me and keeps me up at night. I am sure this goes for police officers, corrections officers, and for service members too. Being a twin dad and firefighter is by far the craziest, most hectic, anxiety-causing thing I can imagine, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Written by Michael Brogan