I don't think I truly thought this whole firefighting thing through when I decided to take on this job. One of my blessings that is also a curse is that I don't think too far into the future and I make decisions based in the now. This helps me in the fact that I don't worry too much about what's going to happen a decade from now, but is also a hinderance because my choices can create some problems. For example, I am not the first female firefighter who is a mother, nor will I be the last. But I have to say that it has been a challenge and a juggle and I have had to make a lot of compromises in my life. It is not easy being a woman in the fire service. The gals I know on the job make it look easy but trust me, it's not. It is certainly fun and satisfying in so many ways but it is a tough, challenging job that takes its toll the more years you have under your belt. I pray menopause doesn't hit me for another 10 years and osteoperosis never kicks in. There are days that, mentally and physically, I do not thrive. As much as I am determined to keep my two 'lives' of motherhood and firefighting apart, recently, my two worlds have been colliding and I have been spinning on my axis at warp speed. I have been bringing my job home which is something I rarely ever do. Some of the calls have hung over me like a dark cloud and some decisions made at the scene by others have left me shaking my head in frustration and left me irritable beyond words. Normally I doff my firefighting job the minute I don my civilian clothes. And normally when I get to work I can push aside the responsibilities I have at home and just enjoy my 24 hour tour at work. But lately home 'stuff' has been nagging me: I've been snapping at my husband and children and feeling resentful at the lack of 'me' time. I know these feelings are normal being a working mother but still...... there are some days I wish I were superhuman and could do it all with a smile and nary a complaint. The guys at work can see the wrinkles beginning to fracture my face. At least I can talk to them about what I feel. They've been a great sounding board.
Not sure why I'm writing this post but perhaps it's because I met a gal who was bubbling over with enthusiasm about wanting to become a firefighter. I was faced with making the decision of telling her the truth of the uphill climb and struggles she will face or of painting a rosy picture. I could tell her the benefits are great, uniforms cool, shifts are decent, or I could tell her she will see things that will rattle her to the core and be under physical duress that is at times unbearable and the intensity of the heat and physical exertion will make you want to throw up in your mask. I decided to tell her my truth... that firefighting is as much a part of me as the children I birthed and the air I breathe. And that I have fire for blood. I told her my truth because looking back a decade ago, I was exactly this young woman. And nothing would have stopped me anyway no matter what anyone could have told me because my journey to becoming a firefighting mother was my own to discover.