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.
For several years now my husband has worked as a first responder: first as the medic, and now as a police recruit.
Through the years, I have always struggled with what food to send with him for lunch and snacks because of the unique challenges the field represents.
For starters, there is no set lunch hour. In fact, there is often no predictability in when or if there will be a short break to eat.
There is also the issue of not having access to a refrigerator or microwave, making it difficult to send leftover or food that needs to stay cold.
And then there is the issue of how much physical work they are doing and how much energy they are expending during their shift. Running, walking, standing, sometimes sweating through their heavy uniforms and vests burns a lot of calories.
Finally, our husbands are often working LONG shifts – anywhere from 10 to 24 hours. Instead of packing 1 lunch and 2-3 snacks, I am finding myself packing multiple meals and multiple snacks.
It is no surprise that many of our first responders struggle with their health – because it is so hard to eat healthy with these challenges. Sometimes our husbands are so busy taking care of others that they are unable to take care of themselves.
When I was pregnant, I had so many ideas of what motherhood would look like. I was scared of the responsibility and scared I wouldn’t measure up, and I was scared of what effect a baby would have on our marriage.
So I watched.
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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. 🙂
There are a lot of battles you fight as a police wife: police equipment everywhere, a 24/7/365 schedule, an overwhelming fear when I do not hear from him for hours … but the most stubborn one is the work phone.
Most people in the world see smartphones as a convenience. I see it as my enemy. I often feel like I am fighting for attention and my opponent is 5″ tall and 3″ wide. Having the requirement to carry this phone and answer it is bad enough, but then there are the emails, the text messages, and all the other potential distractions smartphones come with.
No matter the time nor place, that phone can ruin all our best laid plans. We could be arriving at my parent’s house for Christmas Eve dinner then his phone rings. Next thing I know he is gone off to work and me and our two dogs are stranded.
If I’m being honest, I hated my husband’s time in the academy.
For one thing, he was far away 4 days a week (since it was an out-of-town academy) and we were living with my in-laws, with whom there was admittedly some tension.
On top of that, we were in a completely new town where I didn’t really know anyone.
Oh and the cherry on top? I was 14 weeks pregnant when he started the academy. Hormones, baby.
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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.
Most people live for the weekend, celebrating Friday as the last day of the work week. Saturday is for sleeping in and resting, getting caught up on house and yard work, and spending time as a family. Sunday is another day of rest, and for many, it’s the day to go to church.
Technology is pretty amazing, isn’t it? I mean, think about it. We live in a time where if we miss someone, we can instantly contact them via text or social media or anything. That wasn’t the case even 10 years ago. Heck, I remember spending many of my teenage years warning people NOT to call me until after 9 (or else I’d go over my minutes and get in trouble!)
But I think a lot about my husband’s grandparents when I think about this topic. My husband’s grandfather was a game warden, and his grandmother has said there would sometimes be as long as a week at a time without word from him.
I mean, they’re an awesome example of a strong law enforcement couple, because he passed away a few nights before their 76th wedding anniversary. Talk about commitment. But I can imagine it wasn’t always easy.