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.