On this #klsdmamamonday we talk to Candace Wittwer, a seasoned fire wife and mama about her side of the bed as the wife of a fireman and mama. As we start to come out of a very intense fire season here in the central valley, I thought it would be a great time to share this interview! She shares her experiences, struggles and advice for those struggling through this season..
I personally have ZERO experience in this area, but I have many many friends who are fire wives, and I listen to their struggles, and my heart aches for them. The challenges they face, while taking care of the home front while their husbands take care of our cities is so often overlooked and misunderstood.. These women will go weeks and months without seeing their husbands. They are both mom and dad at this time.... They wear all the hats, and it is certainly not easy. All the mean while worrying about their husbands well-being as he battles fires. SO, I hope you enjoy hearing Candace's story and feel free to comment on how you cope if you are a fire wife yourself!
Please describe to us what your husband does:
My husband currently is a Battalion Chief/ PIO for Fresno County fire. He luckily comes home every night right now. But it wasn't always the way it was. We've been together since high school, so he started callfire pretty much right after high school. So we've had station life since we were 18. He's been with cal fire for 16 years, He will be home some days, gone summers, completely gone months at a time, sometimes weeks at a time.
Can you explain what fire season is:
Well, it's evolved...we don't even have a fire season anymore. ]California doesn't, They've taken that whole verbiage away for the most part because it starts sooner and it goes longer. So it typically used to be between May-October/November. Now it's all year. Like he was gone in January at the floods and mudslides. He's a part of a rescue team, so he got sent up there actually to go do search and rescue for people in their homes and people that are missing in the mud slides. So it's, it's an all year thing at this point.
What's the struggle with this family dynamic that you do have? What would you say is your biggest struggle?
When they're gone for weeks at a time, up to a month, it just... it takes a toll. You're just like, I just need to see you, I need to touch you, just feel you there for even five minutes. I don't care. He hates being away, but it's his job and he loves it . And we love him so it's kind of one of those things. It's worth it, and we would do it again over and over and over, but it still doesn't make it any easier. But, it's life and when you love somebody you let them do what they love and what makes them happy.
Do you remember your first fire season with your first daughter?
Yes… He actually got promoted when we first had her..When she was 8 weeks old he had to go to training in Ione.. So he was gone all week when she was 8 weeks old. He would come home on the weekends, try to cram for his tests…..plus try to get in anything he can get with us..Then go back..And then got hit with fire season on top of that..So it was rough… but we don’t know anything different at this point.
What's the difference between fire season before kids and after kids. Did having children make it harder?
Yes, it makes it harder and I actually think, I mean it's hard on us but I think it's harder on him because he's away. Especially when they're young. They changed so much, so fast. He would be gone. They would like to do one thing and then he'd come home and they'd be totally different and it would be a struggle for him because he missed that. So, I think it's rougher on him than it is on us. The girls have adapted well amazingly, as they've gotten older, they understand it. Early ages are a little harder because they don't understand where's dad? Why isn't dad home? Now it is easier, they get it. And, it's the only thing we know.
Friends that aren't in this life will constantly ask, how do you do that? You just go, you just go forward.
Plus, he loves his job. I don't know anybody that loves their job more and has as much passion for what he does. He's literally want to be a fireman since he was two. So why would we ever take him away from that? If you love going to your job, you do it, right?
How does his schedule play into your parenting, your kids behavior?
Thankfully they don't act out because they are so in tune with it now. But they know if dads home, you don't jack around..
SO you seem to have your Ebb & Flow..... Let's speak to the woman who doesn't have it yet .When did you feel like, whew, I've got this?
When they could start doing things on their own it made a huge difference. As they've gotten older, it's gotten easier . There is a light .Sometimes you don't think there is. .But my saving grace was always having a strong core of other fire-wives. They got it . We would all get together and have a cook out every week. Or take them to pizza and let them run crazy so we could have a beer together and not lose our shit..
But it's get easier..... somewhere along the way.....
So what advice do you have to give to other women in each stage? I mean, we talked a little bit about it already, but what's your, what's your number one piece of advice that you would give to say.. a new mom. Just starting out this journey as a fire wife and mom...
Breathe, breathe, and no one's perfect. Everybody struggles whether you see it or not. Um, and someone's always going to judge you. So learn to not care. Worry about what you're doing, what your kids are doing. If you're happy, who cares what anybody else thinks about any of it. It's your life.
We hope you enjoyed today's #klsdmamamonday topic and Candaces' amazing personality and outlook on life.. She is not only an amazing mama and wife, but also runs her own business creating wooden signs, and they're badass! Check her out on IG here!
Can't wait to share next month's topic with you guys!
Oh, and snag The tee Candace is wearing here!