The Miner's Girl

The best of both worlds. Life as a fly-in, fly-out girlfriend.

Tag: FIFO

Miner’s girl or mining Mum?

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Copyright Minersgirl.com

I think it’s fair to say that it’s taken me longer than expected to get back in the writing saddle. I knew things would change when I had a baby and I could blame my silence on the general craziness of surviving my first year as a Mum, but in all honesty, I have been nervous to start writing again.

I have always been slightly concerned that calling myself ‘Miner’s Girl’ looks as though I am defining myself by my partner’s career and could come across as; a) a bit old-fashioned; b) the antithesis of my actual feminist view; and c) just a bit sad!

When I started this blog there were no others for ‘partners’ that I could find. There were blogs for families, for mums and for miners themselves, but none for miner’s girls (or boys for that matter). And when I wrote the ‘about me’ section, I thought of myself as ‘sometimes single’, independent, free-spirited, confident etc. I was owning this lifestyle and loving the way it was working out and I wanted to be there for other women (and men) in the same position, who were at the beginning of their adventure and possibly finding it difficult.

But now I am not sure I feel like that – who am I now? Not that I’m having an existential crisis, but having just made the decision not to go back to my previous job, do I have my own life or am I just Mum and Miner’s Girl? Do I now belong to Mr Miner and Mini Miner and have no life outside that?

Before we had Mini Miner and even before I was pregnant, I wasn’t going to be one of those Mum’s, who didn’t do her hair, went out without makeup and wore daggy clothes. I was going to be a cool, young, fun Mum. But now I have mum jeans, mum hair, drive a mum car. I carry a nappy bag, push a stroller and have all the accessories, plus, at 32, I’m not sure who I was kidding with the young mum bit!

I was determined not to become ‘Mum’ and certainly not a ‘Mummy blogger’, mainly because there are plenty of great ones out there and there doesn’t need to be another (slightly mediocre) one.

So what now? I have been through a rigorous year of training and learnt some serious new skills. For instance, in one hour I can hang out washing, wash the floors, clean the bathroom, shower, dress and be ready to go with a toddler in tow. I can function on four hours sleep and I can act efficiently and calmly in the face of a major poonami. But I’m ready for something new, so what now?

Can I even go back to work? I would need a job within an hour’s travel of daycare, which excludes my old Sydney job. The jobs where we live now are few and far between for my skill set (talking about myself, oversharing and occasionally stringing sentences together). So that leaves retail and hospitality, which I would be happy to do, but I can’t be flexible with hours and the pay has to cover the cost of daycare in first place. And this is where my options run thin. I have huge respect for the single mum’s managing this struggle!

So here begins the frustration for so many families, and particularly mums. I had to give up my job for his job. When I say ‘had to’, I wasn’t forced, he didn’t make me, but as a couple it made more financial sense. It’s unfair on both of us as he should be able to have a year with Mini now, but I would have to go back to work full time and our income would still take a big hit. And if we were both working, Mini would be in daycare for 12 hours a day and I would be commuting and still having to do everything at home, a reality for some I know, but again this mixed blessing allows us the choice.

However, whilst I am slightly frustrated at the system and nervous about what comes next, I am very grateful for the opportunities and flexibility that the mining life (and Mr Miner’s hard work) gives me. I am going to enjoy Mini in his toddlerhood, enjoy being ‘Mum’ and hopefully rediscover Miner’s Girl, because I’m sure she’s still in here somewhere!

So there we have it. I’ve had my year (*ahem* 18 months…) off and it’s time to get back to it, to what I’m not sure, but hopefully writing this is a step in the right direction.

Ten things I’ve learnt over five years as a Miner’s girl

I’ve had a bit of a hiatus recently due to a combination of things, one of which has been moving house. We only moved from one side of the city to the other, so not a huge upheaval, but as our last move three years ago was only around the corner (quite literally) and it caused arguments, tears and threats of deportation, I approached this move with some trepidation.

But, in fact it was pretty easy. Of course there were late nights, pulled muscles and we were still packing the kitchen when the movers not only arrived, but had packed the van and gone, but there were no threats of abandonment or cars crashed into moving trucks (yes, I may have reversed Mr Miner’s car into a moving truck on a previous occasion!).

In fact, when our friends brought emergency coffee supplies the morning after the move, we were all cheery, smug and smiley, so pleased with ourselves and our effortless moving style. Obviously we hadn’t unpacked any boxes or braved Ikea at this stage, but still, I was very proud of what we had achieved. And, yes I do count not killing each other on moving day a serious achievement.

The other thing that happened during my Miner’s Girl hiatus is the five year anniversary of us meeting. Now, let’s be honest, I obviously mean five years since a drunken hook-up that neither of us thought was going anywhere (sorry Mum), but there’s no simple word for that. Anyway, the coinciding of the big moving day achievement and our ‘anniversary’ got me thinking about the things I have learnt over the last five years that have helped us go the distance (FIFO pun intended).

1. Communication is key…

 mindy mindreader
 Source: redcrosschat.org

Hints don’t work, be upfront and get on the same page.

2. …But do it your way

 Source: Giphy.com

Contrary to popular belief t’s actually ok not to be on the phone everyday.

3. Get a life!

 Source: Giphy.com

Waiting around for your other half to come home is no way to spend your time. I have joined gyms and bookclubs, I’ve volunteered and I’ve forced myself on new friends, but at least I’m not bored!

4. Give him a break

 Source: Giphy.com

Don’t feel rejected! do you really want to do the kind of things he gets up to with his idiot mates?

5. Sundays are lonely

 Source: Giphy.com

Remember though, every cloud has a silver lining; when he’s home Sunday’s will be appreciated all the more. And when he’s not? You won’t hate Mondays quite as much as everyone else does!

6. Get some help

 Source: Giphy.com

Pay for movers, pay for cleaners. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

7. Know your love language

 cuddling-rabbits
 Source: imgur.com

We all demonstrate love differently. How do you show yours? I love cuddles and Mr Miner apparently shows his love by leaving socks all over the house…

8. Some people won’t get it

 Source: Giphy.com

Sometimes T. Swizzle just says it best! As long as you are making each other happy, it doesn’t matter how they feel about it.

9. A little help goes a long way

 Source: Giphy.com

In this lifestyle the small things make a difference, so help each other out when you can.

10. A ‘routine’ sex life isn’t a bad thing.

 Source: Giphy.com

Just like Ryan Gosling topless, Fly-in night sex. Never. Gets. Boring!

Help! Our phones are stopping us communicating!

Ask anyone in a long distance relationship, be that DIDO, FIFO or any other kind, and they will tell you that one of the keys to making it work is communication. The trouble with working FIFO is that often, due to internet connection, time differences and shift work, it can mean  a lot of this communication is via text rather than talking.

Of course we are lucky that there are so many ways to communicate now (we’ve come a long way since patchy satellite phone calls) and for the most part texting is fine. A quick message to say, ‘What are you doing?’ or ‘How was your day?’ is easy enough, but it’s not exactly the best way to convey emotion.

I usually like to think that Mr Miner and I have got it all figured out when it comes to communication.

We know our schedules and what time to call, we give each other space when we’re too tired to talk, we don’t put too much pressure on having to have a conversation if we don’t have much to say and we always try to have one good, long catch up call during a swing. But this last week we’ve had a major communication failure.

I’m sure everyone at some point has received a text where they’ve been confused by (or worse still, misunderstood) the emotion behind it. Are they really angry with me or are they joking? Is that a sarcastic smiley emoji or do they really think that dress looks nice?! Sometimes you just wish you could read their facial expression, or even just hear their tone of voice so that you could know exactly what they’re thinking.

There are some times when text just isn’t the right medium for communication, and then there are times when technology fails completely… which is what happened to us this weekend.

It all started with a simple conversation about whether we want to move house or not. I wrote what I thought was a simple enough text and he responded with a one word reply, ‘What?’

I will say now that Mr Miner has many strengths but written communication is not one of them. Have you ever written a text when you’ve had a few drinks, realised that not all the words are quite right, then decided rewriting it properly is just too hard with your wine-goggles on, and sent it anyway? Well it feels like Mr Miner texts like that at all times!

His seeming allergy to punctuation and unwillingness to either read or use it does get the grammar-Nazi in me fired up. It can also lead to some interesting interpretations and sometimes I think I may have an easier time deciphering semaphore than one of his messages.

So, needless to say, when I received this response I didn’t have much patience, thinking he was just reading it wrongly.

‘What, what?’, I replied.
‘What are you talking about?’ I received in return.

As he was at work this conversation took place over several hours, with each of us getting more frustrated with every response. Shouty capitals and offensive emojis were thrown around like grenades over the treches, phones were slammed onto sofas in exasperation (don’t you miss the slam of a landline?) and crankiness took over. Until finally one of us cracked:

‘I’m done talking’, he said.
‘Sounds about right’, I lobbed back in response.
And then radio silence, both of us raging…

Until, ‘beep, beep’, I offered my phone an angry sideways glare, only to see a screenshot from Mr Miner. This should be good, I thought (of course knowing I was right the whole time). But when I compared his version of the message to mine, it all became clear. Our phones are trying to split us up!

Text confusion

And then I cracked up laughing, because what else can you do with something so ridiculous? I replied with the version from my phone and then we are all ok again, a united front against our terrorising technology.

No matter how far we’ve come since the patchy satellite phone, it just goes to show that sometimes it really is good to talk!

The difference between women and men

I realise that I’m a bit behind with this, but I’ve spent the week catching up on some of the great media produced for International Women’s Day.

There were lots of great articles and quotes doing the rounds on social media from some brilliant women, from all walks of life, including business women, stay at home mums, teenage girls and of course women in mining. But it happened to be one celebrity quote in particular that caught my eye.

Buzzfeed quoted Jennifer Garner in their list of ‘31 Times Celebrities Gave The Best Damn Responses To Sexist Questions’, which highlighted how different the questions directed at her and husband Ben Affleck are:

“Every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, asked me ‘How do you balance work and family?’ As for work-life balance, Ben said no one asked him about it that day. As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to change that conversation?”

I really related to this quote in particular because people ask me all the time; ‘how do you cope with Mr Miner away?’

Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images / Via huffingtonpost.com and Buzzfeed.com

I know some are inferring that I may get lonely or miss him, but I also know I am not being over-sensitive when I say that many outsiders seem to think that it would be impossible for me to cope without a man at home. It’s as if I had a partial lobotomy when we moved in together and lost the ability to carry out simple everyday tasks without his assistance or supervision.

‘But what if something happens when he’s not there?’ They ask. Like what? Cockroach infestation? Power cut? Neighbour from hell? They’ve all happened when he’s been away and although I would’ve loved him to be there to help, I coped all the same.

Of course I asked Mr Miner whether this is something he hears a lot, and surprise, surprise, nobody has ever asked him how he copes. Not once. They ask him what it’s like to go underground, how he finds the hours, how good the money is, but he has never had the question phrased as, how do you cope?

Even more importantly this resonated with me, because I think most worryingly, this question isn’t only sexist towards women. As much as it assumes that I wouldn’t be able to cope on my own, because I’m a woman, it also assumes that he would be able to cope on his own, because he’s a man.

This way of thinking perpetuates the issue of men not discussing their feelings, particularly when it comes to feelings of anxiety and depression, which can be amplified by the FIFO or DIDO lifestyle when you are working long hours, away from your loved ones.

So I am not suggesting that I want people to stop asking how I am coping, but re-phrasing the way they ask it. Please do ask how I’m feeling, whether I’m lonely and if I need a hand with anything at all (particularly if you want to come over and kill cockroaches!).
But if you see Mr Miner, please also feel free to ask him… or your mate, or your colleague, or your Dad, or your neighbour or your brother how they’re doing too, because at some point we could all do with someone to help us cope.

If you’re having trouble coping, Beyond Blue are available to help you talk it through, day or night.

 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…. or maybe just a little forgetful

MG Friday

This weekend was our first Friday night at home together since December 5th. Our first Friday night at home together for eight weeks, that’s nearly two months!

And I don’t mean our first Friday night at home because we’ve both had plans, or been out for dinner together, or had after-work drinks, or because our lives are just so wildly exciting and sociable. No, I mean it’s the first time we have both been in the same city on a Friday night for eight whole weeks!

I am shocked, not just because it’s been such a long time, but also because I didn’t notice. I’m not trying to seem cool and aloof, believe me (I am so not hipster enough to pull that off). I could talk about how hard it’s been and how much I’ve missed him and how lonely it’s been, but quite frankly, that just wouldn’t be true.

In all honesty I didn’t even realise until I was driving home from work that afternoon. I had that niggling feeling like I was forgetting something, was I supposed to be going somewhere after work? Had I forgotten my keys?… Nope, just momentarily forgotten I had a boyfriend at home!

Mr Miner had been at work and I had been away for Christmas, then he had been back at work again and there had been weekends away in between, then all of a sudden you realise just how little you’ve seen each other, it just creeps up without you even realising.

Obviously I would like to spend all (ok, let’s not push it, maybe 70 per cent of) our Friday night’s together in an ideal world, but the fact is that the longer you live this lifestyle, the easier time apart becomes.

I think in some ways we have been lucky that we have never known anything different. Since we met Mr Miner has worked away and so we have never been able to get into a routine of being together 24/7, relying on that security.

Have you ever watched that show ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’? Well, they have to spend three weeks apart while they plan the wedding and there are always tears. They cry about how much they miss each other and then when they’re reunited they always say ‘Let’s never, ever spend that long apart again’, and I can’t help but roll my eyes and think, seriously?

Am I a totally cynical bitch? I love Mr Miner, we have built a solid life together over the last five years, but I can’t imagine being so upset about being apart for three weeks. Three weeks apart is often standard practice for us.
And then I think back to when we first lived together and he left me in our new house to go to work and I was suddenly very alone. That feeling of anxiety set in, like a dead weight in my stomach and I cried when we said goodbye, gutted that I wasn’t going to see him… for four days!

And suddenly I realise how easy it is to take what we have now for granted.

If you are just starting out in this way of life, then I will be honest and admit that yes, it can be difficult to start off with. The hardest thing is learning to be by yourself.

It’s so important early on to plan your time apart and choose things that you want to do. I love watching a girly movie, having drinks with my friends, cooking the food I like and not having to share the remote or the bed (or the bathroom for that matter). And now I look forward to my ‘me’ time. I long for my guilt-free nights where I don’t have to think of anyone but myself and I don’t tend to get lonely or upset, in fact I have a pretty great time!

As for this weekend, as well as making me realise that I have got pretty good at doing this FIFO thing, I have also realised that I shouldn’t take finding it easy for granted. As much as I’m ok with being apart, there are some nights (especially after eight weeks) when you just can’t beat being together.

© 2017 The Miner's Girl

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑