On the nights that my firefighter is away, we follow the same routine pretty closely. I make dinner, the children sit nicely at the table to eat it, and then things deteriorate from there. After dinner comes the "storm before the calm." For some reason, the hour right before bedtime is always the craziest. Why is that?? The kids will run the circuit around the stairwell--from the kitchen to the family room, through the living room, past the dining room table, and then back through the kitchen--squealing and giggling and bumping into each other as they go. It's also the hour of the day when they're most likely to get scraped and bruised.
I get various drinks and loveys ready to go upstairs while they're doing their laps, and then calm the storm with the bribe of ice cream. They perch in their chairs around the table and settle down over their bowls. While they're preoccupied, I put the baby to bed and wait for the other two to trickle upstairs looking for me after they're done eating. Then we go through their nighttime routines. If I'm lucky, everyone's in bed by 8:00.
Once kids are tucked in and prayers are said, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I usually sit at the computer and unwind by kicking the trash of my Bejeweled opponents on Facebook. I pass the time, giving in to the allure of hearing nothing but the sound of the heater engaging and the clicking of the keyboard, waiting for my firefighter to get a chance to call me.
We give each other the daily run-down, discuss the latest gossip, and make plans for the next day. The longer we talk, the more abstract the topics become. I would point to that as one of the defining characteristics of our relationship--our friendship, and the amount of time we spend talking to each other. You know that date, at the beginning of a relationship, when you first click with each other and spend hours and hours talking about everything? I loved that date--I still do. I love that my firefighter genuinely wants to know how my day was and what's going on in my head. Even when things are going wrong with our family or with our relationship, we always want to talk to each other. I also love that, no matter what happens the rest of the night, he makes sure that I'm his last call (or text) of the day before he goes to bed.
The night hours are the wild card hours. I never know what kind of a story, if any, he's going to share with me on his drive home. The following morning, we swap stories about what went on overnight. Sometimes it's a blissfully boring call, if we both slept most of the night. Other times, we commiserate over how few hours of sleep we got collectively. On my end, there's always the nightly count of how many times I got up to get one child or another. At least getting no sleep on his end equals an interesting conversation.
Some of the more serious calls come in during the middle of the night. He gets medical calls where he is really needed, like shortness of breath or severe pain. And the traffic accidents, while there are fewer of them, are generally more serious since higher speeds are involved.
There's one kind of call that I'm really hoping doesn't make it in to the morning report this month. I don't want to hear about any families losing their home to a Christmas tree fire. This video (taken from my firefighter's blog--thanks, hun) shows how disastrously quick a dry tree burns:
We haven't put our tree up yet. We've always preferred live trees, but after seeing this video, I'm seriously considering getting a fake one!