When is Daddy Coming Home?
by Morgan Carver Richards
My husband is an airline pilot. When we found out that I was pregnant with our first daughter, the thought of my husband missing her birth drove me crazy. Fortunately, he was home when she arrived, and my other two daughters were scheduled c-sections, so he bid for a schedule that would allow him to attend the births, but he missed the two hospital visits where my labor had to be stopped weeks before the scheduled dates. My mom was the one who went with me.
He missed the first steps that our oldest took. When our third daughter was five months old, he left for training in London. The next time he saw her, she was ten months old and had no idea who he was. Every summer, my daughters and I spend six weeks in the US while he stays in Dubai (to fly). He wasn’t there when we all spent two weeks with bodily fluids coming out of every orifice of our body — but he did get a Facebook message from me when I ended up in the emergency room as a result. My kids always ask if Daddy will be there when they have something going on at school or sports, and more often than not, he won’t be there.
Our girls are the daughters of a pilot. When he comes home, he is home. No phone calls, no emails, and he rarely drags work frustrations through the door with his luggage. They ask constantly when Daddy is coming home. He has missed many firsts, and I am sure he will miss many more. Our life will always have to go on when he leaves, and his schedule is never set or certain, and does not accommodate late-night fevers or ballet recitals. But when he comes home, his is present.
He plays with Barbie’s and he allows them to paint his toenails. He cried when he saw our first-born for the first time. He does homework with our middle child because I lose my mind when I try to help. He teaches the girls about music and space and sings One Direction with them while they dance like little flailing pop stars. The man shows up when he is home and he tells them that he loves them when he kisses them goodnight. We travel together as a family when we can. At this very moment, he is watching a movie with all three of my kids because he is not only home, he is present. He is discussing things that are going on in the movie as I type. My youngest asks every time I pick her up from school, “Is my Daddy in the car?” When I say no, she responds with “AHHHHH, man! When is Daddy coming home?”
His job will always take him away but he makes up for the temporary absences when he brings them a snow globe from Thailand, or a piece of chocolate from Switzerland. They are forgiven, and always will be because when he comes home he makes them feel the love he has for them.
A lot of non-aviation friends have asked how we deal with him being gone so often. I usually crack open a bottle of wine after day three, and that deals with my frustrations. As for our kids? This is their normal. Their normal is a father who will always love them and never leave them guessing about how proud he is of them. Being the father of three daughters is not easy, but he is doing just fine. The way that men spend time with their daughters will shape the kind of women they become, and my husband is doing a damn good job.