Earlier this week, the Hubs set our alarm for 3 am. Then he carefully set his clothes out on the couch so he didn’t wake me while getting dressed- his BDUs, his cold weather layering shirt, his work shirt, thick socks and heavy duty boots- along with his gun belt, handcuffs, baton and the other paraphernalia he wears around his waist on a daily basis. He didn’t grumble or whine, he just went to bed early and got up a few hours later to do his job.
On days like that one, I wake up later than normal (because I can’t go to the gym first thing in the morning, leaving the kids home alone) and manage the morning routine with the kids solo. Most morning we’re lucky and the Hubs is around- but he’s gone just often enough that we can work well in his absence. We try to the call the Hubs on the way to school so the kids can say hi, but more often than not, he’s not able to talk.
When I get to the office, I text the Hubs to say hi and wish him well. I then start monitoring all the local news stations carefully, knowing full well if the Hubs is up that early whatever he’s doing is going to be big. In most cases the news starts rolling in mid-morning and I can be reassured that his radio silence is just because he’s busy and not hurt or handling a big emergency. I say a little prayer of thanks and carry on with my day.
We’re one of the luckier ones in law enforcement. Make no mistake, the Hubs job is dangerous and scary but 85% of the time, his schedule is as close to normal as it can be. He’s home most nights for dinner- or at least bedtime. He doesn’t do shift work anymore and he has most weekends off.
My father was a police officer and he worked different shifts and weekends on and off my whole childhood. He – like most officers I know- did a remarkable job of adjusting his schedule to maximize his time with us, even if that meant years of working nights to the detriment to his health and sleep patterns, just so he could be there for as many games and activities as he could.
For the first 3 years of the Hub’s life in the law enforcement, he had rotating days off that weren’t guaranteed and had to call in every single day to find out which shift he was working the next day. So he could work a 3 pm – 11 pm shift one day, a 7 am – 3 pm shift the next and then start an 11 pm shift later that night. We were living 30 minutes outside of Washington, DC, where the Hubs worked, and often times, we had guys who lived much further out crashing on the couch in our 795 sq ft apartment when there literally wasn’t enough time to go to their home, sleep and make it back to work.
Police officers have been in the news a lot over the past year- mainly for misdeeds rather than their good deed (which, make no mistake, outnumber the bad by at least 95%). The Hubs, who wears clothing daily that identifies him as a cop, is very selective about where he eats lunch because of the looks and remarks he gets. He stopped in one place last week and the person serving him said that he doesn’t know why cops get a such bad rap when “only 50% of them were bad.” The sad thing is, “50% bad” was the nicest thing anyone said to him out in public for a while.
I firmly believe that, just like in any profession, the bad seeds should be weeded out. And I do believe that abuse of power should be punished, regardless of if you carry a badge. But I know that most police officers go into their job because they want to help people. They want to make sure that their communities are safe because they live there too. They want everyone to feel safer, for kids not to feel threatened no matter what neighborhood they live in and for those who do bad things to be brought to justice.
I’m thankful to be raised by a police officer and I’m thankful to married to one. I’m thankful that there are men and women out there that are willing to risk their lives, miss time with their families and sacrifice their well-being to ensure my kids can sleep safely at night.