POCF Mama on Raising a Toddler During Year-Long Fishing Seasons
A Veteran member of our group, Savanah Todd (Hey, Savanah!), mentioned there isn’t much in our community about the POCF motherhood experience, and I agree.
It’s been a thrill to witness women in our group go from “single women” (with fishermen partners, of course) to either pregnant or with children since joining the crew (congrats, y’all!).
And we’re lucky to have some of these fantastic women let us into their lives and learn how they make Mom-ing through the fishing seasons work for them.
This is the first in a series, and I’m delighted to introduce you to Becca Bissett and her adorable family! Meet Becca:
POCF Mama on Raising a Toddler During Year-Long Fishing Seasons
What’s your name, where are you from, and who are your family members?
My name is Becca, and I am the mom and CEO of the Rencurrel family. 😉
My husband Matt is the fisherman of the family. We have one child so far, a 2-year-old named Ryder. Ryder is a wild, talkative, and energetic Daddy’s boy. He likes to think his Dad is fishing for dolphins, whales, and sharks. Definitely not old enough to understand that’s frowned upon!
We live in Fairhaven, MA, which is a town over from the Port of New Bedford.
Where does your fisherman fish, what kind of seafood, and how long is he gone at a time?
Matt is a scallop fisherman out of New Bedford, MA. He’s been fishing for about 15 years and comes from a big fishing industry family. On average, he is gone for 10-14 days and home for maybe the same amount of time.
This varies so so much due to fishing on different boats, the weather, and the number of permitted fishing days. There is no off-season with scalloping, but it definitely slows down in the cooler months.
During the summer, I consider it a win if he is home for a week between trips.
What do you do to prepare yourself and your toddler before the fishing trips?
For me, it’s so important to make plans with friends and family during the busy season. I always make plans and assume Matt won’t be home for them. It’s always a plus when he is, though!
I take my son to a lot of local and free activities during the week to help pass the time. Most local libraries have toddler and baby groups which I’ve found to be the place where I myself get the most adult social interaction.
My parents also revamped their finished basement into two bedrooms, so my son and I have a nice place to escape to when we get lonely! They live over an hour away, but it’s nice to have a place to go when Matt’s gone.
To prepare our house for the busy season, I will make sure we are fully stocked on ready-to-go meals, snacks, and diapers. It’s not easy to quickly run to the store with a toddler in tow, so keeping the house stocked is vital!
Please describe the conversations you had with your spouse before fishing regarding supporting you and your child. (I.e., did you and your fishermen discuss your role as a POCF mama before/after you got together? What were the expectations like?)
Matt and I were both on the same page about wanting me to stay home with our son. Not having many local family members to help would make it difficult for me to work full-time and do daycare runs. We didn’t want Ryder to be in daycare almost 50 hours a week, so my career taking the back burner is what makes the most sense right now.
I know it’s not feasible for all fishing families to have a stay-at-home parent, but I’m so grateful that I can give Ryder that stability.
But I will say when Matt comes home from a trip, all he needs is one day of sleep, and then he is right back into full-on Dad mode. He’s the best!
What is the adjustment like for you personally when your fisherman leaves? For your son?
I know all POCFs can relate, but the first few days of Matt being gone isn’t all that bad. It’s nice to have a break from your partner! We all need it. I think many marriages would survive if people were married to a fisherman! Ha!
It’s harder on our son than it is on me. I’ve been with Matt for almost 10 years, so I’ve felt all the feelings at this point. Ryder’s only two, so he does not fully understand why Dad is gone. We talk about his Dad’s job daily, and I always remind him that Dad will come home.
Every morning the first thing he says is “Dada on the boat,” which breaks my heart into a million pieces because I know that’s his way of expressing that he misses his daddy.
What are ways you and your toddler stay connected to your fisherman during a season?
We purchased a satellite phone when I was pregnant so that Matt could check in periodically. During a two-week trip, he may call 2-3 times.
It’s hard to keep in contact daily when he only gets 4-5 hours off between watches. I also like to track the boat online to keep up with his whereabouts.
Please describe the transition back home. Do you do anything to prepare yourself and your child? Are there any challenges?
The transition back home is probably the hardest for me. This one is hard for me to articulate, but ill try my best:
When you’re a POCF and a mom, you’re doing all of the things alone and just powering through in survival mode. What choice do you have? None! You do what must be done without giving it a second thought.
When Matt’s home, it’s an extra body to share the burden. I have a hard time staying motivated to get stuff done because, in the end, I know if I don’t do it, Matt will.
I probably also have a hard time with the transition back home because it feels like the marathon is over, and I’m burnt out.
What advice or tips have you gotten or would like to share? What activities or mindsets have been more helpful for you?
Advice for moms with little ones- stay busy!
Getting out of the house can be so hectic, but it really does help pass the time. I’ve found a nice little group of moms and toddlers that I see on a weekly basis.
What’s oddly been helpful is counting down the time by counting how many monotonous tasks are left before Matt gets home. Like:
“Oh! Only one more trash pickup!”
“Last roll of toilet paper I’ll have to replace before Matt gets home.”
It sounds silly, but it has helped me stay more positive compared to just counting down the days! 🐟
What part of Becca’s experience speaks to you? Please share in the comments below!
If you liked this, you’d love What It’s Like for a Mom in a Commercial Fishing Family.