Two years ago, I felt it was time for a change in my career. So, I applied for a totally different position at an amazing company. I was overjoyed when I was offered the job, but there was one part that scared me — 12 hour swing shift.
Now don’t get me wrong, I knew the schedule when I applied. But I also knew it would only be a couple of years and it would be so rewarding for my future career and, in turn, my family. So I was sure when God aligned it all that I would be able to get through a couple of years on a crazy schedule.
What I didn’t realize is that when one parent works a 12-hour rotating shift, it is not just the parent working that shift that is affected by it. The inconsistency and schedule (or lack thereof) can be felt by the entire family.
When I started the position, my babies were 2 1/2 years and 7 months old. You know, the time when routine is so incredibly important. But there was none. I mean we tried to be similar but Mommy and Daddy are just different. There were many nights my girls didn’t know who was putting them to bed and which one of us would be getting them up in the morning.
Although we never regretted the move (at least out loud), there were several text messages early on that made me fear the success of the new position. Yes, I was the one whose body wasn’t sure if it should be awake or asleep, but my husband had to dive head first into being a part-time single dad to two girls who wondered why Mommy wasn’t always there for dinner or bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like he did nothing before, he just never had to do EVERYTHING.
I mean he had to find a rhythm with a reflux babe who never slept and a toddler who was just hitting the tantrum stages. We went from taking turns sleeping in on the weekend to him having every other weekend full of bedtime struggles and early morning (or middle of the night) risers.
But we pushed through, we kept the light at the end of the tunnel in our vision. Sometimes, I would make him stay up with me on Wednesday nights because that would be the only night I would see him for the week. And many times, he let me sleep in on my weekends off because he knew I was only averaging four hours — and by then he had the hang of getting up with the girls anyway.
That part wasn’t all bad. I don’t know of a dad who is closer to his girls than my husband. You see, it was crazy and chaotic but he established a strong relationship with his girls. He learned that Maylie will eat cucumbers and hummus for every meal and cuddle for a TV show while Reagan could simply snack all day and doesn’t sit still for more than 2 minutes. He figured out that he can lay next to Reagan at bedtime and still hold Maylie’s hand from a bed away. In doing so, he built a bond that these two girls will never forget.
On the other hand, I had almost an additional 200 days off with my girls the last two years. Mind you, some of them I was a zombie, but coffee was my friend. We were able to spend many weekday mornings cuddling, having dance parties or paint sessions, and even got to spend a ton of time with my sister and her kids. We made many memories, and I cherished our time together.
But it still wasn’t easy. Having two babies is hard enough but throwing in the inconsistency made it rough. Which is why I am so happy to announce that we have reached that light at the end of the tunnel. Come the end of January, we can finally start a routine — a consistent schedule for our girls — for our family. All together, we can do dinner, baths and bedtime nightly. I can be there every morning to wake them up and even make sure Maylie’s hair is done for school every day.
Sure, I will miss my extra days off with my babies, but I will thoroughly enjoy the quality of our time together even more. And I am certain that the bond built between Paul and the girls is everlasting.
Yeah, it has been a whirlwind of two years — but we survived. I truly believe we came out even stronger than we were before and for that, I am so thankful for the experience.
We made it. You hear that, babe? We made it!
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.