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Airline Pilot - Captain
Industry - Aviation
A Little Bit About Our Family
We are a traditional family: Mom, Dad, three school aged kids. They all participate in school and rec sports and other community activities. My husband runs his own business and works from home.
A Lot Can Change Over Time
My work situation sees me returning to a regular flying schedule after an 18 month leave of absence. The leave was initially due to knee surgery. Then, after COVID hit, the company offered a partial pay leave. A typical schedule for me is 3 days away from home, flying a trip, followed by 3 or 4 days home.
Returning to work again is obviously the biggest change for all of us. Additionally, I recently upgraded from International 777 First Officer to Domestic 737 Captain. This meant an extended time away from family for flight training, which was needless to say...rough on all of us! This role change resulted in more pay but a decrease in seniority. It also means I have fewer options as to the trips I fly and a greater chance of having to fly over the holidays. I’ll most likely have to work more weekends as well, but as a mom it’s usually better for me to be home on the weeknights anyway. It makes dinner time and homework monitoring easier and it will allow all of my trips to be domestic. On the 777, I flew to Europe every few days. Flying domestically will enable me to get in contact with my family easier and feel less groggy my first few days back home.
I think women are just wired differently. It gets easier as the kids get older, but I still sometimes have to force a happy face as I say goodbye.
Balancing Career and Motherhood
I’m able to balance this career and a family because of my wonderful husband. He is a rock and really the only reason I’m able to do my job. He keeps things going when I’m away. On my days at home, I fall into a fairly boring but comfortable routine. A bit of laundry each day. A shopping list. Cleaning. Shuttling kids around. Just like every other mom.
The biggest sacrifice I’ve made has been delaying upgrading to Captain as long as I have so I could be home more and pick the best schedule for my family. This is pretty typical of all pilots who prefer (and are financially able) to spend more time at home with their families. However, being away is different when you’re the Mommy. I know I take it harder than the guys do when I have to leave on a trip or when I’m delayed getting home. I think women are just wired differently. It gets easier as the kids get older, but I still sometimes have to force a happy face as I say goodbye. The second biggest sacrifice I’ve made is being a commuter (which means I have to fly from my hometown to my base city before I even start work). We have a lot of family in this area and it’s important to me that the kids grow up here. It makes my days longer and shortens my time at home, but it’s worth it when I see the kids enjoying the company of their cousins and grandparents on a regular basis.
Transitioning into my new role as Captain is a big step. It’s something I’ve looked forward to and I’m proud of, and it’s also a different level of responsibility. I don’t worry as much about the kids dealing with my return to work so much. They all adapt very well to me being away. It’s all they’ve ever known. They also know that when I’m home, I’m really home. They have my full attention.
As I returned to work after having my children, I had a few airline moms I could call, but guidance and support is what I really needed.
As I returned to work after having my children, I had a few airline moms I could call, but guidance and support is what I really needed. Things like how to deal with changing hormones and changing body type. For example, you have to road test all your layover clothes to make sure they still fit week to week (with weight going up and back down!). Someone who told me to give myself time to cry in the car before going into public on those first trips leaving a new baby! And as children grow up, new stages of life emerge and needs evolve. Now the needs are helping me decide how to prioritize the time at home as well as while on layovers. As I reflect back, I now know the thing that would have helped most when I was a new mom would have been help and support to figure out how to balance work and home.
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