The Railroad Life

April - posted on 01/17/2009 ( 58 moms have responded )

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Hey All,

I'm new to the circle so I thought I'd introduce myself. My name is April. I have 3 homeschooled kids and a husband who works for Union Pacific Railroad. Anyone whose ever had the blessing of living this life knows it's not easy. He's home one day, maybe for only 12-18 hours and he's gone again. There is no schedule, no planning except planning on his not being here. He misses holidays, birthdays, everything. Sometimes he's home for a few days at a time, but you never know. His job is the most unsecure of any I've ever seen. He has a rules test every two years. if you fail it, you are fired until you can take it again....which could be in two days or 6 months. You can get fired for anything. They have what they call a "bible". The bible is the main rule book. It is at least 2-3 inches thick. The bible has an addition with amendments to the rules. And the amendments have ammendments in another book. It's CRAZY. You honestly could get fired for stepping off the train the wrong way, if a manager saw it. I live a fairly lonely life, much like a single mom. Friends whose husbands have normal 9-5 type jobs don't get it. They think you should just get over it, after all he makes a lot of money...... Yes, the money is nice, but it's not all that life's about. I joined this group hoping to find other women who might understand my plite. I'm not a complainer, just lonely sometimes....

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Natasha - posted on 04/23/2014

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Hi ladies!

I just found this site, and I would love advice. We are thinking about joining BNSF. We have friends that just moved last year and got a job in Sioux City, Iowa. They are trying to get us to move there as well, and for my husband to apply. I'm having such a hard time, because we are such a close family. We love doing things together. My husband best friend is telling him it would be a great move for us. Money is key since we have 3 kids, but I've heard so much about the railroaders never being home etc. We live In illinois, and husband works at Pepsi as a sales manager Making $39,000 a year without taxes taken out. I work as a part time waitress when I can since we have a 3 year old still at home. I make about $10,000 a year. I guess what I'm asking is do you think it would be a good idea for us to move about 5-6 hours away and take the job if he got it? I'm so stressed over all of this.

Brenda - posted on 07/26/2013

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Hi, my name is Brenda and I am also a Railroad wife! Have been married to an engineer with the UP for 8 years and we have a 6 year old son. As many have said before me, NO ONE can understand the unpredictabilty and non-scheduled life we live unless they too are living it. I am an RN but since uprooting from my hometown of 35 years, 3 years ago, to the Kansas City area, I have chosen to be a stay at home mom for my son's sake. And I must say, that as much as I love being with my child, I am about to go CRAZY!! I am the first to admit that I am not SAHM material. Add to that the weekly discussuion from my husband about how if I would "just get a dang job, he could quit busting his butt to support us!!" I am at my wits end. As a "single wife" as I like to call it, I am already in charge of pretty much everything in our household. I do all cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, childcare, finances, pretty much everything. My husbands 3 duties are to go to work, mow the lawn occassionally, and play with his son. And in all reality, I really don't mind it being this way, but getting told every few days how I don't do anything and need to go to work is really stressful. As all u RR wives know, even trying to plan supper is a makor chore. If he's gone, u don't know if he'll be home to eat or not, and I really don't cook large meals for just me and my son. And if he is home, u are trying to plan the meal before he might get called and then have enough for him to take with him to eat, so he doesn't spend $50 on food each trip! LOL just the act of eating a meal is stressful, let alone all the other stuff! I am ready to go back to work, so I can have a life again. One that doesn't revolve around him and his job. But as we know, that probably won't happen, so I will just get the added stress of finding a sitter, toteing said son to and from sitter, working my 10-12 hour shifts, as that is what most nurses work, and still have to do everything else too. Sorry, I am complaining and whining and i really don't mean to. As I know that I am thankful he has a job with good income and I have been able to be there for my son. That still doesn't make it easy or pleasant all the time. Would love to hear from other RR wives in the KC area! Maybe we could start a RR wife group or something! Thanks for letting me vent!! LOL

Debbie - posted on 07/18/2013

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Hi I'm Debbie a part time SAHM/ Hairstylist. My husband has been traveling for the last six years. My perspective is a little different than the prior posts I've read. I was a single mom for ten years before I met my husband. He was also a single dad. Blending families has been a lot of work. However, when he began traveling it allowed me to form a closer bond with my step-daughter and a more uniform routine for our kids. There was only one chief in the home during the school week. Together we have had two children of our own. Having four kids and him out of town can make it difficult at times for sport practices- but we tend to luck out and although its hectic I can manage the travel to and from all the practices. His engineering position with the railroad is currently Monday - Thursday. He's home Friday and Saturday and leaves on Sundays. I'm doing my job - running our household and being a hairstylist two days a week while the kids are in school and he's doing what he loves and it allows him to providing for our household and is creating our retirement. We both work hard during the week and come together for the weekends. Almost like we did before we were married. It makes every weekend enjoyable and special. And in the summer and on school breaks we sometimes travel with him. The kids love these mini vacations! I enjoy our time together and apart. He loves what he does and so do I. Being organized and having a routine is key in making our home a happy home!

Amber - posted on 07/07/2014

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Hi!!! New to this life, but not new to being gone, as hubby has been in the military and all! We have 3 kids, 6, 3.6 and 5 months old. He leaves this weekend to begin his training for Conductor. Any helpful advice? Is the pay really worth it??

Meghan - posted on 04/24/2014

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The railroad life isn't hard for my family. To us this is a piece of cake compared to army life. My husband can be home alot one week and not much the next. I'd rather have him every other then to have him gone over 9 months again. The railroad life isn't for everyone. It takes a strong woman to be able to have her husband gone. My husband has been home for all holidays this year. That's a record for us.

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Heather - posted on 08/19/2014

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I kind of feel like I don't belong as I don't have any children. My husband and I have been married for 6 years this November and he has been a conductor with CN for the past 2 years. We have a puppy, 2 cats, 3 geckos and a snake. I work full time as a Commercial Sales Representative and I may be one of the minority here but I love being on my own. We live in Canada so I think the rest rules are slightly different. After my husband comes home from working a road job he is entitled to 24 hours rest. Every 3-5 trips he can book an EO and get 48 hours off. He also has two weeks vacation every year and 12 personal days.

I find it relaxing to come home from work and know I will have the house to myself. If my husband is home for more than two days I get antsy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with him but I like my own time as well.

Angela - posted on 08/08/2014

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Hello all! I'm so glad I found this. When I first met my fiancé, he was on leave from the RR, and we were together for a year before he got his reinstatement to go back to work. He's a conductor for the CP based out of St. Paul, MN. He's been back on the road for almost three months and I'm still adjusting. We currently don't have any kids together, he has three from a previous marriage, but we talked about adding to his brood and starting family together. Right now, we just have two cats roaming around our house.
I have a full-time job, so it's hard to see each other because his promised twelve hours off have often been during my work hours. So he gets home, crawls into bed with me, then an hour later my alarm is going off, and when I return, he's gone for another trip. I can't imagine what you moms are going through, and it makes me nervous to have children with this lifestyle. Especially considering that I want to continue to work. I have a huge amount of respect for you ladies who have children while your significant others are on the RR. It's comforting reading these stories and knowing it's completely possible to do, difficult sometimes, yes, but possible. So I want to thank you all for sharing your stories! It's definitely going to help me with the next 30+ years of this.

Kayla - posted on 07/01/2014

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Hey ladies. New to the site. I'm so nervous about our new start to life. I'm a 21 year old SAHM to a 4 month old and a 4 year old. My husband is a conductor for the A&M railroad and has just completed all of his 'conditions' for the UP conductor job in Coffeyville, KS. He's already gone all the time and we never have 'us' time, but this really has me stressing. He starts next week and assures me that he will still have time for us and that things will get better with the change in jobs. After reading these posts, I know better but I'm also better prepared for the change because I know what to expect. I just want to thank you all now and in advance for the support and company that I'm sure I'll be needing later on.

Maureen - posted on 06/03/2014

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Benefits are good, yes you get vacation but they don't want you to use it and just TRY to get permission for a single day- we're too old to start a new career and retirement should be good- but sadly most men don't survive more than a couple of years after retirement....
NOT for the faint of heart, there are easier ways to live.

Christine - posted on 05/18/2014

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I'm glad I found this 'support group' because I have been struggling. My husband didn't work for UP when we first got together, and it has been quite an adjustment. I understand he cannot make every holiday/birthday/etc., and I have accepted this. I'm luckier than most because my husband does have somewhat of a set schedule. He is gone for 8 days, home for 7. Knowing this, I try to plan for the important things when he is home. My struggle is when he is home from work. He sees this week off as his 'weekend', and he does the things he wants to do while he is home. We are lucky if he saves one day out of the week for just us. I work full time, I am going to school, I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old, and I take care of our home. I am 'working' from the moment I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep at night. I do not get a break. I do not get a 'weekend'. I feel my life should be a little easier when he is home, and that I should get a little help. Some mornings he will take my son to school for me, but after I have worked all day I have to pick both kids up, make dinner, do our normal routines before bed...and if he is home, he is usually sitting on the couch playing on his phone. I have tried talking to him about this, but he just gets mad. The only alone time we have together are once the kids go to bed, but he is always playing on his phone or he stays up all night watching TV. I have tried to explain to him that I feel more alone when he is home, but he doesn't seem to want to change. I still go to bed alone, and most nights he passes out on the couch instead of coming to bed. My days off are Saturday and Sunday, and I would love nothing more than to be with my family. I don't understand why he doesn't want the same, especially since he is gone for half of the month. How do I get him to put family first when he is home....without being the 'nagging' wife?

Julia - posted on 05/02/2014

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Hello, just wanted to know if there are any other good things that come with the rr career? Like does he ever get vacation time? or any other good things?

Meghan - posted on 04/24/2014

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I missed so many holidays due to working in the medial field. We just celebrate on a different day. It's the thought that counts. I'm lucky to be a stay at home mom now and live every minute.

Meghan - posted on 04/24/2014

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My husband works for bnsf. The last couple weeks he's been gone alot before that he was only gone 1 or 2 days a week. He was always on call but he's learned how to read the boards. I really hate how people layoff all the time so they don't go out. Their turn comes up and they lay off. We've been lucky and he's been home for everything this year.

Rachel - posted on 04/24/2014

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yea, see that I can handle b/c that's prettty much how it is now. He's missed birthdays, holidays etc being on call and some weeks hes home more then others. I agree, being a RR wife is not for everyone.

Rachel - posted on 04/23/2014

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My husband just accepted a conductor position with Union Pacific in Kansas City. At first I was very excited but reading this post is making me very nervous! My husband already works with the railroad as he does the train derailments. He has been with this company for 8 years and is on call 24/7. Of course the money is great. I was under the impression with the actual railroad jobs they were home at least every other day...? The on call stuff I can handle but weeks at a time would be horrible? :(

Chelsea - posted on 04/14/2014

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My husband and I just had our one year wedding anniversary last week and today he was offered a conditional job offer with BNSF. We live in Kansas City and my husband applied for a job in Kansas City however at the all day job interview last week they informed him that he is not guaranteed a job in Kansas City. He could be sent anywhere on the “700 line” which is all of Kansas, part of Colorado and part of Oklahoma. We are trying to decide if this job offer is the right decision for the both of us. So my question to everyone is, how are we supposed to decided (or how did you guys decide) to accept a job offer when you don’t even know where the job will be? This process of bidding on jobs seems crazy to me. How is anyone supposed to plan their lives around these jobs? Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Linda - posted on 04/04/2014

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I'm new here, my name is Linda and I started dating an engineer and already haven't seen him in over five weeks. After losing my husband over 5 years ago I finally meet someone who is everything and more than I could ask for and he has no time for me. I know it can't be helped, not like he's doing it on purpose. It's a struggle waiting just to hear from him. The good thing is he already has 30 years in so I'm looking it as a temporary thing. These posts are very interesting and helpful, you women who have been married to them for years and have raised the kids on your own are awesome.

Amanda - posted on 04/01/2014

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Glad to have found this blog!! There aren't many out there, unfortunately. My husband has been with PanAm RR in MA for about 3 years now. He started as a conductor and is now an engineer. We got married last summer so now, of course, the thought of children is in my mind.

when he started at the RR there was a rumor that once he got "Seniority" he would be able to "hold down" a job that came with a set schedule, so he could at least know when his days off are (He has been "on-call" since he started) Sometimes, he is able to hold down a job for a few weeks, but then gets bumped back onto the board by someone with more seniority. At this point, it seems like he will never be able to hold down a job. All the guys at his RR have been there FOREVER and refuse to retire! I think I am better off assuming he will be on-call for much longer than I anticipated.

This brings me to my concern about having kids. When we have our first child, I will have 3 months off, then I need to go back to work "9-5." I am concerned about feeling like a single mother when I get home most nights and he will not be there, or can't watch the baby during the day because he needs to sleep, or he misses his/her first birthday party...etc. I am really interested to know how other RR wives/mothers make it work! I am OK being alone now, and we have a lot of trust, love, and great communication in our relationship, so that part I am not worried about it. Just adding a child to the equation :-/ Help!

Tab - posted on 03/24/2014

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Railroading is a joke. I hate it. It is ruining our lives. The money really is not good when you factor the 80 hour work week. I would like to know if any one has ideas on related jobs someone could do vs actually running the trains. My husband is a conductor on the worlds most under staffed extra board. He has a college degree. Maybe management? Logistics? Does anyone k ow a single person in the railroad industry who has a scrap of work life balance? If so, please I BEG you for your advice. I am at my wits end.

Jamie - posted on 03/14/2014

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I am also a rr wife, a part time hairstylist, and a ft sahm it is tough and no one but military and oil riggers and other re wife's understand how we live

Crystal - posted on 03/04/2014

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I'll put a whole new spin on this. I am a single mom of two teen kids and I am the railroader. I've been doing this for the last six years. Be thankful every single day you are not the worker but the caretaker. They need more care and support than they will ever let you know. It is a gut wrenching thing to have to tell your child that you won't make the state hockey tournament again because you MAY have to work. Have I missed those birthdays, holidays, etc? Yes, I have missed those on the exact day but this is certainly one of those times everyone learns to be flexible. I am thankful for this vocation though. It has afforded me to remain independent and when they start whining that I'm gone too much, I remind them to look at the abundance in which we live. Fortunately for me, my layover point is only 85 miles away and they have come to stay with me a couple times. I would certainly say I am one of the lucky shortline folks. Kudos to you all and stay strong. It takes alot to be the worker and even more, IMHO, to be the supporter.

Leah - posted on 02/05/2014

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My fiance is in training out of town for CN and this was very encouraging, unlike most of the other post! Thank you for your positivity!

Molly - posted on 01/08/2014

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It is amazing to hear so many similar stories to my own! My significant other and I have been together going on two years and he has been a conductor for CP the entire time. We live in Minneapolis, MN and he works out of Waseca so with a 2 hour call there's 30 minutes or less between phone ringing to running out the door.

He grew up with a father on the railroad and is completely aware of how challenging this lifestyle is for family and friends. If I have learned anything thus far, it is to take care of yourself even though duties around the house seem to be never ending. It is very hard to share what little time they have at home with others but completely necessary to maintain sanity for all parties.

Unlike many of you the only child we have is a 5 year old dog and at this point cannot handle the stress of having children while living this lifestyle. I applaud all of you who do for making it work. That is no small feat.

I'm thrilled to see something like this exists out there. It is not a lifestyle that many understand. Stay strong and know that there are lots of us out there with the same struggles.

Tiffany - posted on 01/01/2014

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Make time for you !! I am a rr wife !! I have 2 boys they are grown now but my husband has worked there for 16 years.. Make time for you !!

Tiffany - posted on 01/01/2014

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Well Hunny,
My husband , Father , father in law and brother in law all work or worked for the railroad! MY husband has been working there 16 years !! I use to complain a lot my kids are grown. I hate the life we have lived and time is passing and we are doing NOTING about it !! I wish when my husband wanted to leave after missing the third Birthday and every other holiday with my kids that i would have pushed him to do it... I wished that he would have been here with the kids, My fathers health is horrible, his father died, His 47 year old brother is disable.. Yes it is hard... But i have people remind me all the time, They in the military and fighting overseas.. ( i live in a military town) I would weight out the options if the money is worth the time...

Tenisha - posted on 12/29/2013

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Also a railroaders wife. Husbands been with the RR since oldest son was 6 mths. Then had our 2nd son if things wasn't hard enough. Then went thru a tough time with a alcoholic husband who did nothing but drink on days off and left me even more alone. Good news he hit rock bottom and has been in AA for almost two years. Now almost 6 yrs him being on the RR I'm still not use to feeling lonely especially at night. Stress from two boys very close in age and a almost 10 mth baby girl. Between him working 92 hrs in a week for grain season and him going to meetings and on phone when he is home. We never planned on me being a stay at home mom. Only thing that fits HIS schedule. I know were blessed with his job but I feel a lil depressed. Never a break from my kids. Never a break from being the refree. Never a break or help with chores. When I bring up my feelings. He acts like I shouldn't be feeling that way. Can't get out of this funk. So glad theirs others who feel the same way I do. Very hard being married to a rr.

Rebecca - posted on 12/05/2013

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Well your fiance should be out of training by now or coming close to an end. I hope it is going better than expected. My husband and I have a 3 year old and are expecting our 2nd one in march. I can relate to your fears but know ifs not always that bad! My husband after 2 year has learned to work the boards and is usually home every 3 days, He does not typically work holidays and has not missed anything huge in mine or our sons lives. He does not make as much as you can with the railroad but the trade off is being around s decent amount. If money is every tight he will work more and be gone more but we budget and make do with him taking fewer trips because we want it that way. It gets better the longer they are there. Tell him to make friends with the older employees because they have plenty of tips to work the boards and be home when you want/ need

Valerie - posted on 10/22/2013

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It is not easy, but doable with the men we love. My husband and I dated while we were in separate cities and he was in the railroad. Now we are married and while I do see him more I find myself wishing it was more often. Just keep in mind that life is better with him that without him. You can make it work, but it is a balancing act. We have been lucky in that I do not work and I find that this is the case with many railroad wives. I am looking to start back to work just to have something of my own with my husband gone so frequently so we will see how that works. I know other people that do it, but I really think you just have to focus on the good. We can't change the schedule or the craziness all we can do is make the best of it and work with them through the chaos of their schedules. We don't have children yet either, but are hoping to soon. For my friends with kids they just roll with it and know that he won't be there for everything. We have adjusted and our friends in the railroad have good marriages and have been married a long time. I think it is all about choosing the marriage every day regardless of the life.

Valerie - posted on 10/22/2013

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I am just starting out as a rr wife and it's not a role for those who aren't independent. My husband is fantastic and makes such an effort on our marriage while he is home, but as a wife you have to remember that your life is no longer your own. My aunt compares it to being the wife of someone in the military. I recommend getting to know other wives in the railroad and get together when you can. They will understand your struggles and your lifestyle when others do not. It can be lonely and you almost have to create your own life outside of your husband. Additionally, your life is going to revolve around his schedule if you want to see him and there can be a lot of unpredictability in that as well. Flexibility is your friend.
You just have to learn to be grateful for the time you have and make the most of it. It makes me a little nervous to think about having kids because it amplifies the complications, but I guess like everything else we will just figure it out. My husband works for CSX in Chicago if there is anyone else in this area. Good luck ladies and hang in there! Just remember that many of the sacrifices that he is making every day are for you and the kids.

Janelle - posted on 09/29/2013

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My fiancee is still in training. He will be a conductor. At first it was fine, he was told it wouldn't be so bad, and now we are being told a whole different story. There is no way that I would consider leaving him over this job, but wanted to see if there was any hope. I started looking online and found this. Family is a big thing for him, and from the sounds of it, he won't be happy doing this. I was looking for something good, so if anyone has a good story, please share. I am being told that I will see him once every 3 weeks, but there is no way to know if it is for 1, 2 3, or 30 years. I don't have any children at the moment, but we both want them. I have been with him every day for the last 5 years, this is so unbelievably hard. I am so happy this group is here. I am looking for any advice, stories, words of hope, or words of reality. As for the original poster, I do know your plight, I am going through it right now.

Crystal - posted on 08/27/2013

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I was so happy to find this on here... I have always wondered if there is a support group for RW! There needs to be. My husband and I have a one yr old and a two year old. I work full time and he is an engineer for BNSF. I knew how difficult it was when we were dating but I had no idea how hard this was going to be with children. I think the very difficult thing for me is more so when it is slow (which is most of the time) and he is home all day and I am working. He takes the kids to the babysitter and piddles around doing things that he enjoys or naps and I find myself growing very bitter. And I get unfuriated to no point of return when I come home to a messy home. The last thing I want to do after a 9-10 hr day is clean the house when he has been home for nearly a week. He does cook dinner and is a good father to our children I just am so tired of feeling this way. I am a nice person and I don't know how to change my bitterness. It is not his fault that he is not at work. And using the tools he uses at home I would prefer the kids NOT be around them so like I mentioned he takes them to the babysitter. Once he goes to work which is usually Fri-Mon., he will get depressed because he misses our children. Well... Do I even need to say it? KEEP them home and play with them. I feel very overwhelmed, lonely, exhausted, bitter and scared for the future. . . I feel anything but happy and positive which is my general nature....

Lynn - posted on 08/04/2013

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Hi everyone,
So glad to have found you all. So my situation is slightly different as I am not married to a railroader but dating one. We have been dating 3 years and I love him to deathas do my kids. But......the schedule is so hard that sometimes I find myself feeling like I just wont make it. He is up for retirement in just 2 years and he would like this to happen before he moves in together or talks marriage. This was not always the case but I think some insecurity crept in when an ex tried coming into my life. Even though nothing happened my bf took a step back. We technically even broke it off. My problem is I do not know if I can go another 2 years with no further commitment. I feel like we have been at a relationship standstill for 2 years....I cannot imagine 5 years into a relationship STILL not being married or even just living together. He is always so tired and it breaks my heart. He feels like he constantly disappoints me but yet we do not just walk away. Maybe this is just a venting session (sorry). Did anyone else have a boyfriend/husband who was insecure about being gone. I must add that he was married before and she did have an affair which lead to their divorce.......I try to stay strong but it is so hard. I feel like if I complain I am just adding to his stress.... :( Am I being selfish by wanting more right now?

Amber - posted on 07/30/2013

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I can definitely relate to all the posts on here about the Railroad wives life. I was living that life far before my husband became employed with UP so it was an easy transition for us with the exception I had never intended on us living in 2 different states for almost a year now. After 14 years of being with my husband I decided to go into this whole experience with ALOT of positivity. I heard all the horror stories of DIVORCE and decided that didn't have to be us. Yes, I DECIDED lol because I feel it is a choice. We have a lot of love for each other and still physically attracted so there is no reason we have to succumb to it. I also realized that most of the responsibility of keeping my marriage together was going to solely rely on ME!! Big surprise huh??!!! I work full time and have 2 kids 12 & 8 so I knew I had to make sure that my life and routine had to function whether he was here or not. I also realized that it's important for him to come home to a happy wife and life ( RESENTMENT CAN'T LIVE IN MY HOME), to call a happy wife, to talk to a happy wife. It will only make him WANT to come home and WANT to be with us when he is here. I see a lot of women complaining to there husbands about the RR life and resenting them because they are "single wives" and all this is very valid and true. But the pressure he all ready feels and the guilt he has because he has to miss birthdays, baseball games, father daughter dances, etc is enough to make anyone go crazy and I RARELY hear him complain about that. So who am I to make it ALL about me. We are without him when his is gone but he is ALONE without us and although a lot of men don't like to show pain on the outside I know he hurts on the inside. At least when I am feeling down I have 4 arms to wrap around me and make me feel warm inside. Who does he have??? Life is life and not full of butterflies and rainbows and I have my bad days where I feel like I just can't go another day like this and I cry and break down just like anyone else. I try not to burden him with these feelings of loneliness and despair on a day to day basis (that's what my friends are for right lol ) but I do communicate how I feel on occasion in a positive way , still making him feel loved and secure but just to let him know that although I operate independently and appear strong, I miss him like crazy and in turn he reciprocates. It's nice to know my life partner cares as much as I do. Over the last year our relationship has grown more than I can ever imagine and I truly believe it is because each of us try to put ourselves in the others shoes and try not to be "it's all about me and my feelings" and by doing that we are constantly giving and taking in the most selfless way I have ever experienced before. Just my thoughts :)

Kelly - posted on 07/14/2013

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Hello, my name is Kelly and my husband has worked as an engineer for Union Pacific Railroad out of S. St. Paul, MN for 10 years. 10 years of living on call, of living with a 3 hour notice of when he is going to work.10 years of never knowing if he will be able to make a bday party or a child's concert, etc, 10 years of all responsibility of our 4 children, our home, everything falling on my shoulders. Of being what feels like a single mom. For all of you in this same situation, you are not alone. It is so hard most days and I feel like I just don't want to live like this. I feel guilty because I know it's as hard on my DH as it is on the rest of us. There are some huge positives with his job, the money, retirement, my being able to stay home (I couldn't imagine doing this if I couldn't), job security. I know every job has it's pros and cons, but man, this is a tough one! It has taken me years to accept that life goes on and if he able to make an event, bonus. I still get irritated when he can't make something even though it isn't his fault. I hear you when you say others don't understand. They don't and it is frustrating when I keep having to say, I don't know if we will be there. He can't take off for something like dinner, as you all know, too much money is lost from that one trip. When I was a kid, my dad traveled a lot for work and I thought, I can do this, no big deal, my mom handled it so well but it wasn't the same, not anywhere close. My dad had an itinerary with dates and time, my, husband, not. There is no way for anyone to prepare you for this kind of life, no way. I remember my mom saying, "always make home someplace your husband to came home to". I get it now. I have heard all the stories of these men who are unfaithful and it is so hard to not have that in the back of my mind. I try to make home happy and pleasant but some days it is so hard when I know he has to go back out in 12 hours and of course has to sleep. UGH! So after 10 years, we are in counseling due to the stress of the job and he has been on an in town job with set days for about 2 months (it has been absolutely wonderful, normal and I am dreading him having to go back on the road). We have never had this kind of job in the 10 years we have been married and I don't want him go back on the road (pay is about 1/2) but I know we cannot afford him to stay in town. Our relationship is so much better, the relationship with our kids is like night and day, he is involved and helping more,. It has been a blessing but all good things must come to an end. Thank you for letting me tell my story and sharing yours. It feels so unbelievable to know that you all know what we are each going through.

Jody Renee - posted on 07/13/2013

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Hi everyone!! My name is Jody and I am from missouri. I am not a big social media person but came across "circle of moms" today and I'm thrilled to see their is a section for living the railroad life!! My husband is an engineer for bnsf an we have been together for 14 yrs. I feel like we have dealt with so many issues and grown so much in our relationship over the past decade and a half.... if I can help others adjust, give advice, or just be a shoulder to cry on I'm happy to help!! Your not alone! Best wishes to all. :)

JoBeth - posted on 07/12/2013

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Hello all. My husband works for KCS, as a conductor. I understand the frustration. The lack of schedule is the worst. And, you are all right about nobody else understanding that. My husband left at some point last night or early this morning, and I have not heard from him yet. When do you start to worry? I have been up for more than 12 hours, and all I know of the time he left is that it was still dark. I hate it when he forgets to text me to tell me what time he left because I do not know if I should start worrying or he is still working. I hate that they cannot uee their phones during the time they are working. I cannot help but worry when I don't hear from him for this long.

Kayla - posted on 06/03/2013

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Nice to know I'm not alone. They should really have a support group for wife's of railroaders. My husband is a conductor with the CN, we live in Wisconsin. We have 3 kids (one more on the way) and sometimes I feel like a single parent :(

Kayla N - posted on 05/31/2013

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Hey guys,

My husband is a conductor for UP he hired out from Texas but now he works in STL, MO....and you all are so right!!! It is very hard, we also have two kids together and its so hard trying to plan ANYTHING! and nobody understands it....like we get invited to a bbq and he doesnt know if he can go (because he has no schedule) and nobody understands that! UGH I am open for any convos from you ladies! My email is aegirl89@gmail.com ... its nice to know others feel the same way!

Kayla

Kayla N - posted on 05/31/2013

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My husband is also a conductor for UP and we live in MO!! What part are you living in?

Courtney - posted on 05/21/2013

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I just started dating this guy that works for CXS, and it's been really difficult so far. I see him like once a week . We have now gotten to the point where we are really in love with each other. He's been talking about buying a bigger house to accommodate our future. He doesn't have any kids, I have one four year-old. I see now what life of a CXS wife is like even though we are not married . I have already taken tbe vow to stick by him, even though he works a lot. Sometimes I have my doubts about building our future because of his job. I also think if Ihad a really good hobby, I would be okay . I really don't know what to do. I love him so much! He's really a great guy. The best I've met so far. it's just that job...ugh! I just hope I will be able to handle it all. Any suggestions???

Laura - posted on 12/29/2012

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Hey Ladies,
I can definately relate to you all! My husband is a Engineer/Conductor and always on call! He is usually home for 24 hrs as he takes that amount of rest! Having said that, you can never, ever, plan anything, ever! Its very difficult for us, as we both have previous relationships and 4 kids between us! 15,14,11 and 8. Mixed families are tough without the work schedule! So, Christmas day we sit at a family function at my parents over an hr away, when the phone rings! (ugh) There it is, the dreaded phonecall! There goes Christmas! And tonite here I sit, alone again, hes called for work on a rescue! New years is in 2 days which he probabaly will not be home for :) Needless to say, it is alot tougher than it sounds! We cant plan tomorrow, nevermind 6 mths down the road! And yes! Once again, everyone talks about the money! You cannot buy happiness or memories, those are missed and gone! Some things you will never get back! It takes a very special women to be a railroaders wife. So, if you are one, YOU are one special women!!!!!!

Charlene - posted on 11/26/2012

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I myself have found it difficult to adjust to the "railroad" life we just relocated our famIly from New Jersey to Missouri among my fiancé and myself we share 3 children all girls ages 9,6,&2 . When living in NJ we would see each other every night, me being a nurse by night mommy by day and my SO a cook by day and daddy all evening and night . To not at all.. This has been a culture shock #1 and second we get to have "visitation" as I call it 2 days a month. I've found it hard to emotional support my kids when this tears me apart just as much. It's as though we're crying when he does eventually come home. And then were crying all over again in sorrow 24-48 hours later . Not to mention never really doing much money handling until 5 months ago when we moved here to MO so financially emotionally and physically drained I'm literally the accountant . Cook doctor landscaper budgeter, referee, counselor , to be frank I DO EVERYHING. I don't get much sleep and it's hard having to cling to my phone in hoPes that the phone rings, it's depressing and I just want him home where he belOngs and throw the rail road life away irk who to talk to and I just can't see a relationship I feel single all the time ..

Stephanie - posted on 11/07/2012

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I know how you feel I'm a 24 year old wife of a railroader conductor. He works for up and is on extra board it tough and gets lonely at times. If any of you would like to talk you can email me at s88castro@yahoo.com since this is an older post.



Stephanie.

Ashley - posted on 11/01/2012

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I am a railroad wife too, my husband is a conductor, he's still on the extra-board but reading some of yall's posts I'm scared t's gonna get harder:(

Krystal - posted on 04/11/2009

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My husband works for UP and has work all over we live in Houston and he just got back from New Orleans

Ashley - posted on 04/05/2009

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my husband works for herzog which is a construction company for the railroad companies he unloads ties with a back hoe on top of a train it's kinda dangerous and he never is home I have only seen him a total of 24 hours in 4 weeks. They pay is excelent but my boys miss him very much and I get lonely some times. But I like to go to town ( I live 20 miles from town ) and my husband thinks I do to much running and I waste gas I can't get him to under stand I get bored all the way out in the country and I like to visit with people we most of the tme just go to my parents house and hang out there.

Stephanie - posted on 04/04/2009

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Hello,



When I read your story I felt as if I was reading my own. I am a 29 year old mother of 2 boys ages 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, both are still home with me! My husband also works for Union Pacific out of El Paso, Tx. He has been with them for 11 years. The life of a railroad life is very lonely as you well know. It wasn't until we had children that it really set in how difficult my life was to become! Of course they miss everything and you can't plan anything! I find myself getting mad at my husband when the phone rings calling him for work! I am sure our husbands hate missing out on these things too but I can't help bet feel a bit sorry for myself! I have compared my life to a single mother's in so many ways! I do not have family of my own where we live so I find it difficult to have any personal time. I can't help but think what life would be like with a husband that works 9-5 and is home to help with the kids. It gives me strength to see that I am not alone in this life style or in my thoughts and feelings! Good luck and hope to talk soon, Stephanie

Melissa - posted on 03/24/2009

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hi yes I to am the wife of a railroader who works for csx. We have four kids we  always try to schedule things around him I dont know how many anniversaries birthdays and other things he has missed right now his engineer sees him more than me but thank god for the internet when he is in the hotel we get to talk via yahoo messenger  we have been through conductor school engineer school yard master school and they r trying to get him to go to trainmaster school as well we r moving this summer to be coser to wherehe wok out of now just because we know other railroaders families and I need others to talk to besides our kids so hang in there girl its a long road ahead 

Sarah - posted on 03/23/2009

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Hi I hope I am not to late for this conversation.  I have been looking for ya'll. My husband works for Kansas City Southern for about 4 years.  And I do not like it I was not ready for him to work for the railroad. I have two children a 18 month old and a 4 year old. And I get everything ya'll are saying here. He misses everything but I would not mind him seeing somethings without having to lay off sick!! LOL I do have a very lonely life if it wasn't for my family I don't think I would make it I almost didn't when they moved him to STL, MO for 2 years but now we are back and doing alot better because of my support net. I just wish that the RR would make a rule that if they work 7 days in a row they should get like 2 days a home. It sucks that he spends more time in a hotel room than at home with his kiddos. I just wish there was a secureness to his job but that won't be for like another 2-4 years.  Plus they are talking about sending him to engine service.  I hope not that means he will be gone more and we will have to move again.  How have ya'll learn to accept this treatment from the RR.



Thanks for letting me vent,



Sarah

Shelly - posted on 03/04/2009

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My hubby works for BNSF in North Dakota and I hear what ALL of you are saying. He has never had a "normal" 9-5 job, so we have been used to shift work, but this go at any time is hard. MUCH harder now that we have 2 kids (4 years old and 5 months old). I think the hardest thing is I resent that I have to do EVERYTHING when he is gone, but remember that he MISSES EVERYTHING when he is gone. As hard as it is on me sometimes, I am grateful that I am not in his shoes. I also work full time as and elementary principal, so we both have stressful jobs, which is not always great for the relationship. But he tries to make the kids a priority--time for the TWO of us is what suffers the most. (It also doesn't help that he is completely obsessed with hunting and fishing, too! ha ha) It is nice to hear we are not alone in our tough situation, and to know that families CAN make it work! Suggestions for what you do for alone time would be great--you know, we can't PLAN anything for a babysitter to come and we live 5 hours from our closest relative so no drop-offs with the grandparents at the last minute! Thanks, and all of you, HANG IN THERE!

Tara - posted on 03/01/2009

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Hey April,



I live in Missouri and my husband has worked for Union Pacific Railroad for 12 years this May. When I first met him he worked on the rail gangs where he would be gone anywhere from 8-12 days at a time and come home anywhere from 3-7 days. In October of 2003 he switched to engineer services. After working as a conductor for a year, he then started engineer training. After about the first year, his home base was moved to St. Louis; which is 2 1/2 hours north of where we live. He works on an extra board and gets trips here once or twice a week. Last fall he was on an extra board in a town that's about 2 hours from us and he would come home after he was finished working; which I got used to him being home a lot more. The first of December, he was bumped and had to go back to St. Louis. They, of course, encouraged him to move when his home base moved, but as unreliable as they are; whose to say in another couple of years that they move it back. My family is very close and I pretty much refused to move. He and his brother both work for U.P. and they bought a camper and stay in it in STL. I think our lives are pretty much just alike.  I have 2 children who are 16 months apart and I understand your frustrations.

Hayley - posted on 01/25/2009

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Hi April!  Our lives sound very parallel!  My husband was a police officer for 18 years prior to working the railroad.  He has only been with them for about a month, and I already can tell you I dont like it!  ha!  I worried all of the time when he went to work as a cop, but I have to admit I still worry now; just about different things.   He is so over worked!  By the time he calls me at night he is barely awake in his hotel room!  They have to be up and on the rail at 4:15am every morning, and they work until about 8pm every night!!!  He has been home a total of 3.5 days, and the kids are slowly adjusting to his absence.  We are going to get a web cam so the kids can see him and chat via computer.  Maybe that will make things easier on us all.   I have had to learn to create new schedules and ways of doing things since I am now a "single mom" to four kids!  We have sports events, practices, etc. and I am used to my husband attending alot of them and helping me run the kids to and from each of them!   It is definately an adjustment.  I appreciate all he does and know he wants to be home too, but in this day and age, you are thankful that he has a job!!!   I try not to complain to him, because he feels very guilty about being gone!  He told me the other night he feels he has abandoned his family and it is hard to deal with most days!  I felt terrible!  All we can do is love and support them.........and get our gripes and moans out on this website with each other!  Ha!  It is nice to know others out there who have the same struggles and frustrations!!!!  



 



Sincerely,



Hayley

April - posted on 01/21/2009

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Wow! NS thought enough of the wives to have a meeting? Union Pacific couldn't care less about us. When my husband got hired, they told him that for the next thirty years they would own him....24/7, and that he needed to go call me and make sure that I was up for living this life. You know, you just don't know what your getting into when your getting into it. And they suck you in with all those dollar signs!!!! Before this he was a fireman and a mechanic. Being a firefighters wife was sometimes easier! The railroad life is crazy but it's mine and I'll manage.....especially with support from you all!

Amy - posted on 01/21/2009

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My husband and I love to go camping and such, so we look forward to vacations. However, my railroader brother practically doesn't believe in vacations. I don't think he even knows how to take one. My father wasn't a good example of how a husband should go on vacation with his family. (He worked as a detective for the railroad.) So, my brother's idea of a vacation is to go to his friends homes on his days/weeks off and drink all night. The times he's taken his wife, they've met up with friends at places to party and drink, while their daughter is with grandparents. I don't think that in the four years they've been together, that they've taken a family vacation.

So, maybe this is part of the lifestyle? I can understand that they may not want to travel, but it's healthy for the wife and kids. Maybe relaxing breaks at hotels with pools are better than high-touristy ones (exhausting) such as Disney World. Compromise helps. Maybe two days at home, four days on the excursion and a day back home before going back to work. My husband insists on this day at home before going back to work. It makes a world of difference for him.

We do have sacrafice times too, however. Holidays with family are out of the question, because he works in retail. So, we do most of our visiting when the weather permits and it is not Oct.-Jan.

April - posted on 01/20/2009

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Thanks girls for the support. Railroaders do have a high divorce rate. My husband has trouble shifting from "Railroader" to husband and daddy. Add in that he expects my life to stop when he walks through the door. He eats, sleeps, and breathes railroad. We have gotten to visit a few cool places, and have some cool pics of things he has seen from the train. Oh, and the vacation thing....right now "they" pick when your vacation is. It's all seniority based. His right now is usually end of Feb. early March. However, that is a good time for travel because lots of places are "off peak". Do you all find that your husbands don't like to go away for vacation because they travel so much throughout the year? Thanks again for the support!!

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