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.
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.
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.
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I remember the first time I saw my husband in his uniform. It blew my mind.
I mean, not only did he look super handsome (there’s something to be said about a man in uniform, after all ;)) and he’d shaved his face completely for the first time since I’d known him, but it reminded me of the new person he was becoming.
That uniform signified the new power and responsibility he had. It signified the commitment he’d made to protect and serve, no matter what it cost. Whether the cost was just a much-needed day off, or his safety, or even his life.
But that uniform also reminded me that with that commitment, I was now second in his life. Don’t get me wrong – when it’s his choice, I come first. But when it’s not? The job always comes first. No matter whether I’m sick, no matter if we have a newborn… if the world needs him, he’s there.
It’s a lot like being married to Batman, I swear, and there’s nothing more frustrating than when I need my husband and that bat signal shows up and takes him away.
Because of all the sacrifices he has to make for the job, the statistic that we only have a 25% chance of making it is ever-present in my mind. With every frustration I experience because of the job, I remember how important my marriage is to me. Being one of the 75% of law enforcement marriages that doesn’t make it is not good enough for me.
Because you know what? I’m determined. I’m not one to just give up in the face of adversity. In fact, the harder things get, the more determined I get to be successful. I want to beat the odds, and whatever it takes, my marriage is worth it – especially now that we have kids.
At times, the statistics about law enforcement marriage have scared me. Overall, though, they’ve been a catalyst to make me more careful, more intentional about caring for my marriage. It forces me to realize that the marriage of my dreams isn’t going to happen by chance. It’s going to happen because we worked for it.
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Sometimes, my husband has days that just straight-up suck.
Granted, we all have those. I have those. But his sucky days always seem just a little suckier than my own. (How many times can I use the word “suck”?)
Seriously, though. I might complain that our son would not. stop. throwing. tantrums. all day long, but when he gets home and has gotten into a fight with someone high on drugs or seen something he really, truly wishes he hadn’t, that pretty much takes the cake.
I can’t tell you how much I admire him (and his fellow officers) for the sacrifices they make. I’m glad they’re willing and able to do the things I’m not.