I’m sure many people believe I live a pretty exciting life these days living a fly in/fly out lifestyle with my husband. In many ways that is true. Flying across the country between Canberra and Darwin and everywhere in between. I do have the opportunity to see and explore many parts of our beautiful country that so many other families never have a chance to experience and I do very much appreciate it. This can only happen now that our boys have grown into such independent young men, two of which are now married thus leaving only our youngest still in the proverbial nest.
Last week we finally managed to have son no 3 come visit us in Darwin for the first time, but as I watched him depart on his return flight to Canberra my heart broke. A lump developed in my throat, my stomach churned and tears swelled in my eyes. He was no sooner here and he was gone, I missed him already. I won’t see him again until we head home for our Christmas break. Seven weeks on in Darwin and only one week home in Canberra at a time after eighteen months of fly in/fly out life is obviously taking its toll on my emotions.
We had a wonderful week together. I was able to show him some of my favourite places around town and introduce him to my new friends. My husband took him on site and gave him a tour of the plant they are building, giving him an insight to what the construction industry is really like. We even took him out to Litchfield National Park for a swim under Florence Falls. It has taken me a lifetime to tick swimming under an outback waterfall off my bucket list and he has now checked it off at age 21! My first opportunity to swim under an outback waterfall was only a couple of years ago when my husband was working in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and we visited Python Pool in Millstream National Park.
Herein is where my dilemma lies. As a mum, he will always be my responsibility and I feel he still needs me at home while he continues his university studies. I understand it is natural for our children to grow up and fly the coup, but it feels somewhat unnatural when it is me that has left the nest, not him. I know he isn’t ready to leave home just yet and by following my husband I am the one who has left home and him behind. That being said, it is my husband who has for many years done the hard yards of FIFO on his own. Isn’t it about time he had the company and support? So far son no 3 has had son no 2 and his wife living at home with him. That all ends within the next few weeks as they embark on the next exciting chapter in their lives and move into their new home. This is a step forward for them and I am so happy that they have reached this time in their lives but it leaves our youngest at home to study alone and look after our 13 acres. Am I asking too much of him? However I have a Celiac husband to consider. With the long 12 hours of work plus an hours drive each way six days a week, I know without me there to provide his meals his health will suffer as he is too tired to come home and cook of an evening. I am at a crossroads, two men in my life whom I love dearly, both need me. Do I continue the FIFO life and support my husband or stay home more often and support my son?
My heart goes out to all the FIFO workers living week in, week out without their families and vice versa. It is a difficult situation no matter which way you look at it. The construction/mining industry is riddled with broken marriages and torn apart families who do it tough. Some of us survive it, many don’t and many are filled with guilt and depression. It may appear to others that we eat out or entertain a lot, but it is essential to be there to support our fellow FIFO colleagues, wives and partners.