JD’s New Job

So, JD recently switched jobs within the department.  He’s still a LEO, but moved to the Community Squad where he’ll move away from 911 calls and move towards proactive police work and more community outreach type projects.  After 5 years as a beat officer, he was starting to feel burnt out so he’s definitely ready for a change of pace.  I’m excited to see him pursue something new, especially since he’s so great with people and I think it will be a good fit for him.  Selfishly, one of the things I’m most excited about is the schedule change.

I’ve definitely referred to (code for: complained about) his schedule many times before.  He used to have to work 12 hour shifts every couple of days, including every other weekend and work night shifts every other month.  I got used to it, but it still sucked a lot of the time.  Night shift month was hard on both L and I.  She acted out more when he wasn’t around and I got tired of carrying so much of the burden alone.  Because his shifts were so long, he couldn’t help with daycare dropoff or pickup even on day shift months (he left for work before daycare opened and arrived home after it closed).  Plus, with a non-traditional schedule, there were so many things JD missed on weeknights and weekends that people with “normal” schedules plan- birthday parties, social gatherings, and even the occasional weekend road trip.

On top of it all, a few years ago I had to start traveling for work on occasion.  This added a whole new dimension of complication and frustration.  There are plenty of working moms at my company who travel a LOT more than I do.  I’ve asked a few of them how they manage it with kids at home.  The answer is almost invariable “Well my husband really steps up.  He’s great.”  Whomp. Whomp.  I mean, my husband is great too, but it was nearly impossible to accommodate business travel around those 12 hour shifts and night shift months.  So how did I manage?  JD’s grandparents helped us out a TON.  L did several overnights with them while I was away and I probably owe my job to them to be honest.  And while they were always willing and eager to help (not once did they ever say no or do anything that made me feel bad), I still felt guilty and stressed turning everyone’s life upside down for the sake of work trips.

But all of that is behind us, because with JD’s new schedule he now works Monday to Friday 8 to 4 most weeks of the month (one week each month he has a second shift 4 PM to 2 AM).  And while the transition has been a little strange for both of us (the other night we turned to each other and said “it’s kind of weird being together all the time”) it’s been amazing to have him home on weeknights and every single weekend.  I finally feel like we’re a true team and we can tackle all of the household and parenting tasks together.  I have his help for the morning routine/daycare dropoff and his help in the evenings getting dinner ready and getting L to bed.  On weekends I can go grocery shopping All. By.  Myself.  (ALL BY MYSELF!)  I never have to worry that he’ll miss something a friend has planned or an important event.  This past weekend we drove to Atlanta to visit my sister… because it was a holiday weekend… and we can do things like that now. 

I’m not saying there weren’t some benefits to his old schedule and there aren’t trade offs with the new one.  We both miss the weekdays the JD got to spend at home with L- the new schedule means that she has to be in daycare full-time.  We’re both getting used to the fact that we don’t really have one-on-one time with L or really any of the alone time that the old schedule allowed. Most of these things can be remedied- we talked about each of us doing a mommy-daughter day and a daddy-daughter date once a month so we still get our one on one time with Loralai but allow the other person some time to themselves.   But, at the end of the day Loralai actually loves daycare and gets excited to go play with her friends and it’s totally worth the trade off of having her there full-time to be able to have JD home on holidays and weekends.

I have no illusion that JD will have this schedule for the rest of his career.  His squad could change the way their schedule works or he could move to a different unit- there are a lot of things that could change.  But for now, I will enjoy a bit of “normalness” that’s been inserted into our lives.

Sorry for Word Vomiting

“I could hear people getting bored with me, but I couldn’t stop. It just kept coming up like word vomit.” -Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls

So, I’m a bit of a talker.  Actually, to say I’m “a bit of a talker” is an understatement.  Those that know and love me can attest to the fact that I’m a hard-core extrovert.  I will talk till dinner plates get cold, till I’m running late for appointments, till people are getting irritated with me.  In fact, I do this to my husband on a regular basis.

Night shift can be rough.  Our conversations on those days are brief and generic, usually limited to “How did you sleep?”  “Did the baby take a good nap today?”  “How was work?” etc.  Dogs don’t talk back and L’s vocabulary is limited to toddler necessities such as “Elmo,” “Cake,” “Poopy,” and “No.”  Sure, I have co-workers and friends to keep me company, but it’s not the same as JD.  He is my ultimate best friend- he’s the one who I tell everything to.

On the nights he’s working, I’m like a balloon, slowly inflating with words that I’m unable to share with him.  By the time his off day rolls around, I’m ready to pop.  Although he’s slept all day and it’s mid-afternoon when he gets up, I know – I KNOW – I should give him at least a few minutes to wake up.  He doesn’t like to be assaulted with my blur of thoughts any more than I like him to crawl into bed early in the morning after a night shift and start rambling about hookers, drugs, and gang members.  But my need to talk is a compulsion, and after the build-up of being away from him for a few days, I can’t help but vomit out the words as he stares off into space, silently begging me to stop talking.  Being the good sport he is, though, he sits there patiently while I ramble on about the shoes I ordered for L, the latest Facebook drama, or how delicious the taco truck that comes to my office is.  Does he retain any of the information?  Probably not, but it makes me feel better.  And this is how I know my husband loves me.

LEOW: Independent By Choice or Chance

Over Memorial Day weekend, I took L up to Virginia Beach (JD stayed behind to celebrate his buddy’s graduation from the police academy- congrats to him!) for a weekend with good friends I’ve known since elementary school. We all now have kiddos around the same age, so it was fun to spend some quality time together and watch the kiddos play. (Check back tomorrow for adorable pictures!)

While there, they mentioned how much they appreciate that I will go out and do things, even when JD can’t. I’d never thought much of it (what am I going to do, spend half of my life sitting at home alone because my hubby is working?!), but I guess it is a little out of the ordinary. Most couples, whether it be by choice or by chance, really will only do things together. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it’s just not how JD and I have approached our life.

In some ways, his job defines our life, but in some ways, we don’t allow it to run our lives. I can have fun without him, I can do things without him, I don’t have to wait for him to come home for my life to begin. I don’t think you can survive this LEO lifestyle if you aren’t prepared to take control of your own life and live it whether your partner is by your side or not.

On the last morning, as we were loading up the cars, my (male) friend asked if I needed help with my bags. “Nah, I’m good,” I said without thinking. He smiled, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I think of you, I always think of a strong, independent woman.”

Why would I take that the wrong way?! What an incredible compliment! As I’ve mentioned before, some of it is simply a result of having to do so much on my own. But I also know I shouldn’t sell myself short. Some of that is just me. I’ve never been one to accept help or delegate; I prefer to do things on my own.

One of the greatest pieces of advice my mom ever game me is “never depend on a man to take care of you, because he might not always be there.” She didn’t mean it in the “men are assholes” kind of way, simply in the “you never know will life will lead” kind of way. I have carried that with me and lived my life in a way that will allow me to take care of myself, my daughter, and provide for our family if something ever were to happen to JD. I pay bills, I mow the lawn, and I have a passable understanding of “car stuff.” But more importantly, I have lived my life in a way that allows my life to continue as normal when JD isn’t there.

Thankful for This Monday

Usually, Mondays are a drag, but sometimes, I’m so thankful for a new week and a fresh start. After dealing with JD’s dislocated shoulder and surgery last week, I was physically exhausted and mentally drained. I was overwhelmed, not so much because I kept busy taking care of JD, L, three dogs, and a household on top of my full-time job and the stress of finding a new daycare for L. What was most draining to me is that JD wasn’t therementally. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say he spent the week in a narcotics-induced coma. He was only awake for an hour or so while I was home, long enough to eat, but he was still in such a trance from the meds that he couldn’t even hold a conversation.

After the hematoma last fall and epic failure of whatever they prescribed him then, we wanted to be a little more proactive and asked the doctor to make sure JD got something decent, pointing out all of the injuries/surgeries he’s had, and how he’s built up a tolerance to pain meds. While the meds the doctor prescribed were certainly enough to take care of JD’s pain this time around, it seems we went to the opposite extreme and what he was taking was too much, even for him.

In retrospect, that may have been what made the week so hard. I had a lot going on, obviously, but when I couldn’t come home and have a decent conversation with my husband, talk through the daycare situation with him and get a valid opinion, or even laugh with him about something funny L did- when the man I know and love was there physically but was emotionally vacant, that was where my real struggle came in.

Luckily, JD made the decision to go off the pain meds on Friday. He was tired of being so out of it, and wanted to see if he could manage without them. By Saturday, he felt awful, not from the pain, but he was actually suffering from withdrawal from the meds, a testament to how strong they were, especially considering he was only on them for a few days. He spent most of Saturday upstairs in bed, and couldn’t even manage to get out of bed long enough to watch L while I mowed the lawn (fortunately, a neighbor at least did the front lawn for us, so our yard is less jungle-like). Sunday morning, I was pleasantly surprised when he got up before me, took his first shower since surgery, and offered to take me to breakfast for Mother’s Day.

I felt an enormous weight lifted off me. My husband was back, he was coherent, and my Mother’s Day was not going to be spent in post-surgery isolation. I don’t think I realized how much of last week’s frustrations had been about the fact that he couldn’t offer me emotional support until that moment.  This morning I was back at it, up at 5:30 sharp for yet another full day of raising a daughter, commuter traffic, work, dogs, dinner (I make frozen pizza like a champ!), and attempting (albeit unsuccessfully) to start our goddamned mower.  But all of this is far less stressful than last week just because JD is there, loving, listening, and appreciating.  Dealing with the post-injury madness won’t always be easy on our household, but knowing that he’s there with me will certainly  make it a lot easier.

 

Upheaval

There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the past week. Upheaval.

The weekend started out fantastically. It was JD’s weekend off and his first weekend back on a day schedule for the month. We grilled out with our neighbors Friday and kicked off the weekend with drinks and plenty of laughs. Saturday morning L slept in till 9- 9!!!– and we went out for breakfast as a family. We had the whole weekend ahead of us- sunny skies, warm weather, and no plans. I was giddy with possibilities.

But it was all downhill from there.

JD went to the opening of a new skatepark in the area. BMX is one of his many hobbies, although he hasn’t done it in quite some time, so he was really excited for a local park to open up and get some riding in.

A couple of hours later, I got The Call.

“Don’t be mad,” he said as soon as I answered.

I immediately knew. I’ve been married to JD for 5 years. I’m quite familiar with The Call.

“You hurt yourself.”  (It was a statement, not a question.)

“I dislocated my shoulder,” he specified.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the ER, then JD followed up with an orthopedist on Monday. I had held out hope that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but talking with the orthopedist made it clear that was the way to go. He’d torn ligaments and JD’s job depends on him being physically active and strong; we couldn’t risk him not healing correctly or fully, so we went ahead and scheduled surgery for Wednesday.

I was already feeling tired and vulnerable when I picked L up after work Monday. Unfortunately, the babysitter had another bomb for me.

“So, I have some bad news,” she began.

I immediately knew. What other news it could it be? What other news could she possibly share with me that would be considered bad? I could already feel the tears welling up.

She confirmed my fears when she said, “We’re moving.”

The tears came. She jumped up and hugged me. I assured her I was happy for her (her hubby got a job with the Sherriff’s department on the coast- how could I not be happy for a fellow LEOW?) but those tears had been building up for days, and I had just reached my breaking point.

When I drop L off in the mornings, I’m entrusting a piece of my heart to someone else. K has watched L for just over a year, and to lose her, the trust we’ve developed and, most importantly, the relationship L has with her, is almost unbearable.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m not Superwoman. These few days were overwhelming for me, but the good cry I had Monday night helped me take a deep breath and just move forward.

I started researching daycare centers in the area. As much as we’ve loved having L in an in-home daycare, she is transitioning to toddler, walking all over, exploring her world, talking more and more, and ready for more social interaction. I found a local daycare center I’m actually really excited about, and plan to visit in the next few days.

JD’s surgery this morning went well and he’s now on the road to recovery. It will be a long, tough journey.  Once he’s back at work, he’ll be off patrol and assigned to light duty somewhere (his worst nightmare). He can’t lift or hold L for at least 6 weeks, and he’s under strict instructions to avoid combat sports for 6 months (his other worst nightmare).  He does what little he can at home, but without use of his right arm, that’s not much. Poor little L doesn’t understand what’s up or why daddy can’t pick her up, which is hard on everyone.

The silver lining to these situations always seems to be the friends and family that step in and offer to help.  Many have offered to watch L, and David’s grandma stepped in last minute to pick her up at the ER Saturday afternoon then took her overnight last night since JD’s surgery was so early in the morning. We had a friend who let us borrow a recliner so JD could sleep comfortably (sleeping in bed is out of the question) and another friend who picked up the recliner and delivered it in his truck. Where we would be without these people, I’m not sure, but I can tell you we’re forever grateful for caring people who go out of their way to help out.

For me, I guess my new motto is, “Just keep swimming.”

 

How To Love

this is the moment when we got 10,000

 

There are so many beautiful quotes out there about love, but this is one of my favorites.

To  love someone is easy- a simple act that’s done without thought.  How you love someone- that’s far more complex.  Do you love them with devotion?  Loyalty?  Do you love them when it’s convenient?  When you’re in the right mood?  When they’re not around?  When they’ve hurt or disappointed you?  When you disagree?

It’s so easy to look at life and think that things that happen are purely circumstance- that we don’t have control over what happens to and around us.  The thing about life is that no matter your circumstance, you always have a choice.  You choose how to react to something, how to move forward, how to love.

“He loved her, of course, but better-2

When I look at my life with JD, I realize that the reason we’re so happy in our marriage is not because we love each other but because of how we love each other.

 

He chooses to be devoted to me, and not be tempted by outside distractions.

I choose to be loyal to him during those long, lonely, frustrating night shift months.

He chooses to love me unconditionally, even when I’m being moody or grumpy.

I choose to respect his career goals and hobbies, even though they can be dangerous and stress-inducing.

He chooses to grow with me, rather than expecting me to always be exactly the same person he initially fell in love with.

I choose to stick by him, even when I’m angry or frustrated.

 

That is what makes marriage such an amazing type of love, because we choose it, every day.

JD’s Fight Night

Saturday.  It was the day of JD’s debut MMA fight, the fight he’s spent months preparing for, and the fight I’d spent months dreading.  There was a weird tension between us most of the day.  An outsider might have thought we were bickering, but we weren’t.  We were just quiet, lost in our own thoughts and nerves.

I was surprisingly okay up until the fights started.  We had plenty of friends and family at the event to chat with and keep me distracted (the 2 beers I had probably helped too), but once the fights started, any calm left within me disappeared.  JD was the second fight, and although I watched the first fight, I don’t really remember any of it.  All I knew is that every second that ticked away in those 3 rounds brought us closer to JD’s fight.  By the time JD was introduced and did his walk-out, I was so nervous I wanted to throw up.

It only got worse when his opponent came out.  JD’s original opponent had broken his arm and was forced to back out of the fight.  They matched JD up with a new guy who, although he was in JD’s weight class, was 6’6” to JD’s 5’10”.  We all knew that his incredible reach advantage would be a problem.

JD entered the ring and I felt something shift within me.  That peace-loving hippie I usually am took a back seat to the fighter wife, the woman who realizes that once her husband is in that ring, it’s either him or the other guy.  I lost care for anything other than JD keeping himself safe and winning.  With his grandmother sitting next to me, I shouted, “F*ck him up, JD!” as he circled the ring, waiting for the fight to start.  (Sorry, Carol, it seemed like an appropriate time for cursing.)

JD held his own in the first round.  He landed some good punches and kicks, and battled through some rough blows to the face.  As suspected, the reach advantage played a huge role and when the bell rang signaling the end of the first round, I think we were all a little nervous for him.  I took a deep breath and thought to myself I can’t believe we have 2 more rounds of this.

But JD being JD, he didn’t back down.  He didn’t give up mentally or physically.  He was determined to finish the fight on his own terms.  My friend’s mom equated him to a pit bull.  “Yeah, the pit bull and the great dane,” I laughed.

The bell rang for the second round.  JD and his opponent danced around each other, throwing the occasional kick or punch.  But then…. JD found his opening.

He was able to back him up against the cage and get a good knee to his ribs.  His opponent’s limbs were super long, but JD managed to get underneath him and get him on the ground.  Then, he was able to get past his guard so that he found himself defenseless and get some good punches in.  After a few seconds of that, his opponent tapped out and the ref came in and stopped the fight.

Not to sound cliché, but the crowd went wild.  Visually, JD had been the underdog from the beginning, so to see him get the come- from-behind victory was exhilarating.  I, and everyone else who’d come out to support him, were jumping up and down and screaming.  I wanted to run into the cage and jump on top of him.  I can’t even explain how proud of him I was.

winner

Nothing like celebrating with good friends, good beer, and good burgers.

celebration)

When Police Hatred Gets Personal

A week ago, a Facebook friend posted a video to her timeline and wrote “Disgusting! F***ing pigs! I hate cops!” Naturally, I had to watch the video to see what the ranting was about. It was a montage of various encounters with the police that ended with “use of force” on the part of the police. While I admit some of it looked excessive, I will say two things:

1. The clips were completely out of context. We don’t know what incident required police response and what led to the police using force. The bottom line is, if you’re being detained by the police and they ask you to do something, well, you better friggin do it. LEOs can’t always know or trust what someone is going to do, so if an officer tells you to sit and you decide to stand up, that is taken as a threat. Any LEO will tell you that their own safety is number one. Our hard working LEOs deserve to come home safely to their families every night.

2. If any of those videos demonstrated unnecessary or excessive use of force, that’s very, very sad, but it’s unfair to lump all LEOs together and assume that’s the way all police officers behave.  I am ashamed of any police officer who would abuse his or her power, but as with anything in life, there are bad apples out there. None – NONE – of the police officers I know would hurt someone for no reason.

I only got though half of the video before I closed it out. I debated commenting on the post, defending the honor of our LEOs but decided against it. The last thing I needed was to start a Facebook argument… especially when it’s nearly impossible to change someone’s opinion.  So I moved on, but over the last week, the post kept popping into my head. While dealing with the hatred of police is nothing new, this one, for whatever reason, really stung.

Maybe because the post was so brazen, something posted by someone I know personally and not just Joe Schmo commenting on a news article.  But I think what bothers me most is the sweeping generalization that all LEOs behave a certain way and the assumptions that all of the acts in the video were malicious.

What if I made a video montage of all the priests who’d molested children or teachers who’d slept with students, would that make all teachers and all priests awful, abusive people? Of course not. (In fact, my stepdad is a teacher and my sister is currently a TA…. both great people, I can assure you.)

There will always be plenty of people who hate the police- that’s just the nature of that type of work. But when your husband, your best friend, the father of your child, your LIFE, is the one out there putting his life on the line, it’s hard not to take that stuff personally sometimes.

What I wish is that the hateful people out there will have some kind of encounter with the police that will show them the true heart that beats within most of our LEOs, because I want everyone to see for themselves the beauty in each of them.

unnamedNot the best angle, but this was taken by a citizen as JD helped a little girl who got lost during a parade.  This is the video montage I want to see.

Badge Bunnies

Badge Bunnies.  Ugh.

These are the girls who are so obsessed with the idea of dating a police officer, they will throw themselves at anyone in a uniform with a shiny badge. Married, kids, it doesn’t really matter.  As far as Badge Bunnies are concerned, it’s all fair game.

As a LEO wife, I do find them annoying, but the thing I have to remember is this…. The unfortunate thing about being a Badge Bunny is that at the end of the day, they are still just Badge Bunnies. I get to be married to my LEO. Every day.

The thing is, I didn’t seek out a LEO, nor would I have chosen the police wife lifestyle, if I had been given the choice.  Don’t get me wrong, I love him more than anything, and I’m proud of what he does, but being married to a police officer is nothing like the idealized view that some people have. In fact, it sucks a lot of the time.  If I had the choice of JD as a police officer or JD as something else, I would choose almost anything else- and by almost anything, I mean pretty much anything other than male prostitute, drug dealer, or military (no offense to the military, I just think that lifestyle would suck worse than LEO… Long deployments? No thanks.)

The fact that JD is a police officer is one of the greatest things about him, but it’s also one of the most annoying. I love that he’s the type of man who’s called to a life of service, even if it isn’t the easiest path.  His career choice is a reflection of the type of person he is, and I will stand by his side, not because of the fantasy or idealization, but because I love the man he is underneath the uniform.

When you strip away the badge and duty belt, he’s still just JD- the goofy, boyish, charming man I fell in love with 6 years ago.  He is my best friend and father of my beautiful baby girl.

A Badge Bunny may be after the uniform, but a Police Wife loves the man.

And I happen to be a very proud Police Wife.

Role Reversal

This past week, we spent time at home in Ohio with my family.  We enjoyed lazy afternoons bundled up at home, Graeter’s ice cream, catching up with friends, and an overall relaxing vacation, that is until I decided to throw myself down my parents’ basement steps and fracture my elbow.

Naturally, I fractured my right elbow and I’m right handed, and with a nearly 1 year old running around, things have been… interesting.

You never really appreciate something till it’s gone, and I’m certainly missing the full use of my right arm.  Simple things like putting on a sweatshirt or opening a bottle are now nearly impossible tasks.  I’ve discovered how frustrating food packaging can be and how awkward it is to put on mascara with my left hand.  I can’t even do my own hair.  JD had to put my hair in a ponytail for me this morning.  That’s love right there, folks.

The thing is, my parents were really helpful when we were still home, and JD has been amazing.  While I appreciate their help, I have a really, really hard time depending on people completely.  So when L woke up at 7:30 this morning and I knew JD was exhausted from our late-night 8 hour drive back from Ohio, I decided to get up and try to take care of her myself instead of waking him up.  What a disaster.  It took a half hour, and I ended up with a naked baby who had peed on the carpet.  So, that was fun.  I had to wake him up anyway to clean up my mess (L did not think it was a disaster; she thought running around her room naked was a great start to the day).

The good news is that I saw an orthopedist this morning and he told me that I’m very lucky.  Because it’s only a hairline fracture and nothing is out of place, I get to use a sling instead of a full cast, and am even allowed to pick up L, as long as I mostly use my left arm to do it.  I mean, I have baby at home and a hubby who does shift work, so let’s be honest for a minute, I was probably going to be carrying her around regardless, but at least now I have permission to do so 🙂

My follow up appointment is in 2 weeks, and hopefully I will be back to my normal self.  For now, I guess I get to be the injured one and JD gets to take care of me for a change 😉