My husband works for the railroad. This in turn has made me a railroad wife. I will tell you that this journey that we have started on since Don has been working on the railroad has been a tough one. The worst part is that people really do not understand what it is like to live with a railroader. At first for us it wasn’t so bad, even though he was working super far away from home for a couple of months. Then he was laid off for a couple months. Now that we are a couple years into this lifestyle I am finally getting it how crazy and hectic our lives and schedules can be. Sometimes he works really far away and we only see him on weekends. Sometimes those weekends become mandatory work weekends so we don’t see him at all. Sometimes he gets called in when there is a derailment to help fix the track and that can even turn into a 12+ hour ordeal. However, the pay is amazing, the benefits are good, and now Don loves his job (especially being a third generation railroader in his family.)
I will say that I am almost relearning how to be super independent for myself. Since Don and I have been together for almost 12 years now we had gotten pretty comfortable seeing each other all the time. However now a lot of times I do feel like a single mom since he is working a lot and sometimes has to work weekends so we really don’t see him for a couple weeks at a time. It really does take a strong woman to live this kind of lifestyle. It has helped that I have recently joined a couple Facebook groups with other railroad wives since they all know how hard it can be sometimes. I think the worst part is that you really can’t talk to anyone about it because they just try to come up with solutions to help you since they do not really understand this life.
At this point in time we are also always worried about him getting laid off and not being able to bid another position since he doesn’t not have enough seniority to get some of the positions. I will say we have been really luck this year and he has been working the whole year. Even though we only see him on weekends unless he is working closer to home. Ray, however, is at an age where he is starting to realize that daddy is only home a couple days and then he leaves again. As a mom that is hard to deal with especially since I don’t like him leaving either. But I am learning that I have to push down how I really feel about it so that Ray does not learn to resent his dad for working and giving us a better life. We have already been able to let me quit my job and be a stay at home mom. We have been able to spend most weekends together which we never did when we both worked retail. Ray and I even go and see Don at least once every month when he is on the road which for Ray seems like a fun little vacation. It is not ideal but it works for us.
I am super glad that Don has found a job that he loves to do. I know that it is hard now but the longer we stick this out the better it will get and hopefully he will be able to work closer to home more often. But until we will stand behind him through it all and make him know that we are doing just fine and will see him again when he comes home. Distance does make the heart grow fonder even if, in the moment, it doesn’t seem that way.