It’s exhausting and boring to listen to someone complain. So at the outset, I feel the need to clarify- this is NOT that kind of article. No venting. No sympathy-seeking. None of it. Think of it more as a peek into the life of a shippy wife. Why? Because our strange life is often thought of in the strangest ways by people who are strangers to us. Well, sometimes by some friends also, to be honest. We get a lot of questions as to how we spend our days. So I thought I’ll write about it.
Shippy Wife (noun.) – A woman married to a Merchant Naval Officer. Of the 12 months, her husband is away at sea for 6 months at a go. And so, she lives a half-life for that half time of the year. But make no mistake, she has a full life.
I am one such Shippy Wife, and this is my perspective. Not all of us are the same. So I speak only on behalf of myself. But I’m sure a lot of shippy wives will relate to it. I have a lot of comforts, but being a typical Indian middle-class homemaker at heart, I live a simple life. Like most women I know. And whatever comforts I afford and enjoy, comes at the price of not being able to share small joys, trials/tribulations with my husband whenever I want to. I don’t have that luxury. So when I hear someone say, “Oh at least you don’t have another person (husband who is away sailing) to nag you /take care of/ argue with for half the year, so much freedom, so much peace, etc., etc.”, it takes me by surprise. How easy it is to be thankless for your blessings. How easy it is to complain. Had she been in my shoes, she would understand what a blessing it is that her husband lives in the same house as her all year through.
Imagine not seeing your partner for 4-6 months straight. Imagine communicating via email for a month because the satellite phone(which is anyway super-duper expensive) isn’t working. Although I should add- all that writing over the years has probably helped me improve my writing skills!
Side note- My friends and I usually joke about how long my text messages are sometimes. Maybe it has something to do with the habit of updating my husband with everything that’s going on back home. He misses many things here. Birthdays, anniversaries, family functions, our child’s many firsts, school events, even regular repair work at home for which I may need to consult with him, financial stuff, etc. I cramp in all the information in one email/ one text message. Multiple short messages (the “normal” way) doesn’t work for us because one patch of bad network and the message in its entirety becomes obscured. I don’t know how long he’ll get network for, or when the mailing system on the ship will conk off again for the 100th time. It’s like, this is the only time I have with him for now, and so I write it all, quickly, in one go. It all needs to go in one message together. That’s a habit I developed over time to make our communication clearer to overcome the technological barriers to communication when he is on the ship. Also, I’m a compulsive sharer. Details. I don’t want him to miss out on anything while he is away. So I tend to over-compensate for the time spent apart. Over-sharing, it has become a habit with me. And it spills over to my other relationships sometimes. Ehhh, whatchya gonna do? It’s a part of my personality now. You are what you are.
Talking about personality types… Another part of my personality is the apparent bi-polar vibes I give half the year, or so I’m told. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been clinically diagnosed to be bi-polar. It’s just that some of my friends seem to think so. I put on weight when he is here so I appear brighter, glowing, stress-free, relaxed. What they don’t know is that I put on weight when he is here because we eat out a lot. Because he is finally on land, and he wants to have a life. When he isn’t here, I loose weight. Yes, I’m sad sometimes, but it’s also because I’m not going out that much. I eat proper home-cooked meals, sleep and wake up on time. A disciplined life is the only way I can run a household resting entirely on my shoulders. Time is always of the essence. One thing gets delayed and it’s a domino effect on the rest of my planned activities for the day. I respect time. Everyone else’s and mine as well.
Note:- This is a perspective from a WIFE’s point of view. Parenting is a whole another ball game. Stay tuned for Chapter Two for a peek into that part of a Shippy Mom’s life.
A teaser for Chapter Two–
I have a daughter who is everything I have ever hoped for. She gets that Dadda is away and she cooperates with me and helps me(she’s just 6) in any way that she can. Bless her. We all love our kids. We do our very best in taking care of them. So let’s also be honest that parenting is not an easy task. We take it very seriously. And being a single parent is that much tougher. Half the year I’m a single parent. Someone says, “At least you have your parents who come to be with you.” YES! Whenever they can. And I’m so thankful for it. But one always misses their partner.
© 2020 Aanchal Nithin Prakashan All Rights Reserved.
All rights reserved.
I wrote this article for First Moms Club. This article was published on June 18, 2019 on their official website – https://firstmomsclub.in.
First Moms Club is India’s leading community of over 1 lakh urban Indian mothers across 60 countries. FMC aims to encourage the women behind the mothers to find emotional, entrepreneurial and social identity.
Link to this article on the First Moms Club website – https://firstmomsclub.in/a-full-life-half-lived-a-shippy-wifes-tale/