Friday, February 8, 2013

Quality Over Quantity

When my husband first joined his volunteer department, I really wanted to fit in with the all of the wives. Our first few events at the station - pancake breakfast for Easter and various soup and sandwich suppers, the kids and I usually sat by ourselves and would be joined by 374 when he took a break from serving to eat. While we were there, I would see the other wives sit their kids down together, and they would chat and eat and play. I was never one to be overly social, so trying to break into the group was quite daunting.

As we attended more events, I go to know more wives. There were even a few that we would have cookouts and get togethers for birthdays and such. I was proud of myself for breaking the ice and trying to find my place in the group. 374 was equally thrilled that I was making friends and being an active supporter of his new venture. I was glad to have these new friends who were in the same boat as me. They'd be able to understand my fears, and shared the same lifestyle. I wanted them all to like me - I just wanted to fit in.

The longer he's been on the department, the more I've learned that the motivation shouldn't be quantity, but quality. There is a big age range for the volunteers at his station - from younger guys in their 20's and early 30's to older guys in their 60's. Families are at various stages in their lives. I wouldn't necessarily be friends with all these wives if it weren't for the fire department. I spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn't as close to some wives as I was others. I worried that I was doing something wrong because there were events that most other families were invited to, but we were in the group that wasn't. I started to realize that just because our husbands are on the same department doesn't mean I have to try to be friends with everyone. It was in that moment that a lot of the stress of fitting in was relieved.

I began concentrating on those few wives who I would choose as friends outside the fire life. There is one wife in particular that I have become pretty close with. Ironically, we live right across the street from each other. Our kids are roughly the same age and enjoy playing with each other a lot. Our husbands joined the department around the same time. We are learning to deal and cope at the same time. When the pager goes off, our husbands are usually in the same truck together. While they are gone, we are usually texting each other to keep our minds busy, or we are at each other's houses so the kids can play and stay occupied while they are out. It is so helpful to have someone that understands exactly where you are. I don't have to feel crazy with my fears because she's usually feeling the exact same thing.

It is so important to have someone there for you who understands this lifestyle. Most of my friends that I had before we became a fire family aren't around as much as they used to be. It's a huge lifestyle change. Certain weekdays are reserved for trainings and meetings. If he's out on a call I would rather stick close to home than be out shopping or at a function. If I didn't have my neighbor and fellow fire wife to walk this journey with, I'm not so sure I would be as comfortable as I am with him as a firefighter.

374 has his brotherhood at the station - but us wives need to find and develop a sisterhood for ourselves. In my opinion, it's crucial. People who don't live the lifestyle don't quite understand the ups and downs and the obligations that it holds. The stress and the fears are not ones that you'd understand or relate to unless you have walked in a fire wife's shoes. This is why I'm eternally grateful for those friendships I have formed - and for me the few I have formed are just enough.


  1. I have a huge issue coming out of my shell, especially around the other fire wives! My hubby has been on the department for 10 years, and I still have a hard time talking to most of the women. I'd love to be close with some of them! I've learned that life around the station usually involves people with BIG personalities (wives included!) and I'm so not like that!

  2. Thank you for having this up so other FFW's can have someone to relate to. My hubby has been a full time FF for almost 6 years with 3 different cities and it is really hard to find some support.

    Thank you.
    Ashlee Vee