As another National Law Enforcement Memorial week comes to an end, it is hard not to reflect on the reality of the line of work my husband has chosen.
As I sit here writing this, there is an alert on my phone: another law enforcement officer was shot and killed.
As my husband slips on his black boots, this is what goes through my mind. Those boots are the sign it is time for him to go into the darkness to answer calls for help and stop those who are unlawful on his streets.
Each day as law enforcement officers leave their homes to hit the streets there are those who love them at home, wondering if that would be the last goodbye.
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As a new police wife, I dreaded night shifts.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m an introvert who loves her alone time, and having the bed to myself is kind of luxurious, but night shifts got old quickly. I’d pretty much spend the time watching Netflix and grumbling when there was nothing to watch.
Now, I recognize that it’s just part of this life. It’s still sometimes hard (especially now that it means doing dinner, bathtime, and bedtime routines all by myself), but for the most part I love it. I don’t really know what I’d do without it.
The key is to recognize that that time alone is the perfect opportunity for you to focus on taking care of and improving yourself – and then taking that time to intentionally do something for yourself.
I know as a police wife you spend a lot of time doing things to try to help your husband, but you might be surprised at the positive difference it’ll make in your marriage if you invest some time in yourself, too. 🙂
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As a rookie police wife, I felt like I didn’t have connections with other police wives yet, so I turned to books. Specifically, books that could relate to my current situation. Reading, especially while my husband was on shift helped me to deal with the situations we were facing. It also helped to paint a picture of what our life may look like later on down the road. It helped me feel connected to him, even when he was away.
For my husband, who wasn’t naturally an avid reader, he started reading a lot more when it was something he was passionate about. He enjoyed reading books about his career. He gained a clearer insight to why things occurred, and he learned important statistics related to his job.
Fast forward almost 10 years and I am still reading books related to my police wife life, but now it’s a little different. Now that we have children, finding books that relate to all of us is just as important.
I’m so bad about sitting in my husband’s preferred seat in restaurants. I always manage to sit in the spot where he’ll inevitably give me the look that says, lovingly, “move it.”
At first, I thought it was weird (and annoying), but after 7 years of dating and marriage, I understand better what’s going on in his head.
When he looks around while I’m talking, I know he’s paying attention to me, but I also know he’s checking where the exits are. He’s thinking about where he could duck for cover if needed. He’s wondering how and when he’d draw his gun if he needed to. He’s assessing whether anyone in the restaurant gives him a weird feeling.
To my sweet little boy,
I love how much you love your daddy. Even though it sometimes pains me when you’ve been a butt for me all day and you’re an angel for him, I love the way the door opens and you drop everything and run to him, demanding he pick you up. You wrap your arms around his neck and want to tell him all about your day. He might not be able to understand a word of it, but it doesn’t matter. You just want him to know all about the adventures you had that day.
When you see your dad, I know you’re seeing so much more. You’re too young to really understand his job yet, but you know there’s something special about what he does.
He should have been home by now.
He said he was going out with the shift for a beer or two, but that doesn’t take three hours.
You check your phone. Again, nothing.
You check Facebook to see if maybe there was a call that made them leave work late. Nope, still nothing.
You check other social media, you check your phone one more time, and you even spend a minute or two listening to that scanner app you downloaded a few months ago to no avail.
The fear that your husband is in imminent danger suddenly gives way to doubt when you remember the whole shift means the whole shift, including his new female partner. Suddenly, the concern you had for your husband has turned into pure jealousy.
I feel like before I became a police wife, I didn’t really know much about the world.
I thought because I worked in a domestic violence shelter I really had a handle on the worst things in life. I felt like I understood it and was prepared for the emotional toll it would take. And even though my husband does his best not to tell me the worst stuff he sees, he’s also better able to separate himself from the emotions – so he doesn’t always realize the stories he tells me are things I didn’t want to know.
And sometimes after hearing these stories, I can’t help but wonder: why did that have to happen?
Something about the last few days has made me contemplate where I used to be versus where I am now.
Maybe it’s because my son is about to turn two (where did the time go?), maybe it’s because I realized I’m now closer to 30 than I am to 20 (seriously, where the heck did it go?), or maybe it’s just because, well, I’ve grown a lot over the last year alone, let alone the last 5 and 10 years.
It’s amazing to look back at who I used to be and think of all the differences. Just under 10 years ago, I moved out on my own for the first time. I learned how to live alone, I learned how to manage my money, I worked all kinds of jobs and lived in my super small studio apartment that I was insanely proud of.
My husband was just my boyfriend at the time, and had barely started applying to police departments.
Hey there, it’s me.
I see you over there. I know you’re feeling broken down, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Sometimes this life is just way harder than you imagined, am I right?
Sure, at first it seemed a little exciting – after all, admit it: uniforms are super sexy. And you’re so proud to have a husband who’s a real-life superhero. But after the excitement wears off, it’s just flat out tough.
After all, when you said “I do” to your husband, you might not have realized he’d have another wife – one that’s much needier, that calls him at all hours of the night. One to whom he responds, every single time. It’s hard to feel treasured as a wife when there’s something else that always comes first.
And that other wife? She can be a real wench, right? She sends your husband home tired, frustrated, worn out, even traumatized at times. You can’t ever really tell what his response is going to be after a long shift, whether he’s going to shut you out and refuse to talk, or whether he’s going to need to feel close to you (even if he still doesn’t want to talk.)
Dear Police Recruit,
You looked so handsome this morning as I sent you out the door.
You tossed restlessly last night, and I laid next to you just thinking about all the new changes coming our way.
You woke up and showered and tied your tie in the bathroom mirror. We both smiled and exchanged those nervous glances. This is it!
You squared your shoulders and grabbed your lunch and then I kissed you goodbye.