Close Call

Just the previous night as JD and I crawled into bed, I had told him “I’m so thankful for every night you come home safely.”

“Me too,” he said, and we both drifted off to sleep, side by side.

The next day was Saturday. He got up early to get ready for another full shift, while I stayed snuggled in bed, happy to sleep in (or as much “sleeping in” as I can get with a 1 1/2 year old). He gave me a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye, and I groggily told him to have a good day.

I didn’t hear from him all morning, which isn’t unusual. They had been busy Friday so I figured Saturday was much of the same. L and I left for a baby shower for a fellow officer’s wife, and we happily cruised along country roads, enjoying a beautiful October day, the warm sun, and the contrast of the leaves that had started to change against the perfect blue sky.

My phone rang- it was JD. I was happy to get a chance to talk to him before I arrived at the shower and hear how his day was going.

“Heyyyy” I answered cheerfully.

His voice carried the same adrenaline it had the last time we had a close call. “I just want to give you a heads up, in case there’s anything in the news about an officer getting attacked with a knife. That officer was me, and I’m okay.”

A thousand questions entered my mind, but I could sense he was rushed.

“Do you have time to talk about it?”

“No, but I’ll call you later.”

“Okay, I love you, bye.”

“Love you too, bye.”

And that was all I got. What do you do with information like that? With all of your lingering questions and fears? Do you pull over? Call your mom crying hysterically? Throw up? All of these thoughts crossed my mind, but I’m a LEO wife, which means you just put fear aside and go about your day. You put on a happy face, you take care of your family, and you carry on.

I looked in the rear view and watched L as she looked at a book. Innocent. Unknowing. She adores her father and he adores her. Nothing makes me angrier than to worry that her father will be taken from her and she would have to grow up with out him. There would be no greater injustice than that.

Fortunately, JD was unscathed, but they did send him home early, so L and I got to see him when we got home from the shower. He filled me in on the details. He had been patrolling his beat when he saw an assault taking place. He quickly intervened and the man came after him, taking a swing at his head. Luckily, JD ducked and made him miss, because what JD didn’t realize immediately was that the man had a knife in his hand. He was able to hold him off, and eventually backup arrived.  JD’s instincts and quick thinking kept everyone in this situation safe, including the victim who later told him he’d probably saved her life.

It’s moments like these that remind me how real the danger of his job is, that it’s not just hype or drama or anxiety. That there are a million moments our LEO’s face that DON’T make the news (this one didn’t either) but leave them literally inches from harm. It’s terrifying to think how quickly our lives could change, but JD has sworn to me several times that he refuses to die on the job, and he’s nothing if not stubborn, so I believe him when he tells me that.

But it’s not just death or injury that worries me. In light of recent events, I have to wonder what would have happened if JD was forced to take more extreme measures to keep himself safe? What if he’d had to fire his gun? What if that shot had been fatal? What kind of repercussions would there have been then? What version of the story would have made it to the news? How would our family be impacted?

What if?  That is the haunting question lingering behind every police shift.

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Shift Work: A Blessing In Disguise

Okay, I admit it.  I complain about JD’s work schedule a lot.  I bitch about night shift, and feel jealousy towards the couples who seemingly take their in-sync work schedules for granted.  I would see families grocery shopping or enjoying a lazy Saturday morning brunch and envy them (I mean, honestly, who is jealous of grocery shopping?!) because moments like that are harder to come by for us.

As I’ve mentioned, the bright side of JD’s injury is that it forced him to go on light duty, which is a Mon-Fri gig.  We were blessed with a summer of togetherness with plenty of available weekends for family grocery shopping (score!) and lazy brunches.  He transitioned back to regular duty and his regular schedule this week.  Looking back on this summer, what I learned is that maybe JD’s usual schedule is actually perfect for our family after all.  Maybe I had spent so much time envying how “easy” other people have it, that I was blinded to the fact that our life, schedules, and routines are actually pretty great.

Yes, I would love to have every weekend to spend as a family, but the trade-off is that he gets to spend several weekdays at home with L every week, and I didn’t realize how much of an impact that made until the schedule change. Not only do they get a little daddy-daughter bonding time, but it means she doesn’t have to be in daycare full time (better for her, and makes me feel less guilty about being working mom).  This summer, not only did we transition her from an in-home daycare to a daycare center, but she was going full-time due to JD’s altered work schedule.  BIG transition for all of us.  I still think a daycare center was the right choice for her, but it really wears her out.  She’s a great napper at home, but her naps at daycare are pretty short (I just think she has trouble relaxing the way she can at home), so between that and the fact that she’s on sensory overload from everything going on, she’s exhausted by the end of the day.  I think cutting back to a few days a week will make a big difference for her, because she’ll get “breaks” during the week where she’s home, can sleep in, and can take super good naps.

I’ve noticed this summer that she’s been really clingy with me.  There have even been several times that she’ll reject JD and come to me instead.  I actually attribute this to his Mon-Fri work schedule.  Not only was he not home with her at all during the week, but every 2 weeks he worked second shift, meaning he left for work before we got home and arrived home after we were asleep.  That meant 5 nights in a row that we didn’t really see him at all, which was harder than his usual night schedule, where it’s only 2-3 days in a row and we got to see him for an hour or so before he left for work.  This was a lot harder than I anticipated (I thought feeling him crawl into bed every night would be a dream come true, but this pales in comparison to some good, old-fashioned face time) and I think it was hardest on L.  She still got excited to see him and played with him, of course, but I could tell that their relationship had suffered a little bit.

So, back to the usual schedule we go, with a bit of relief from all of us.  We’re thankful for a summer of togetherness, but also thankful for a little perspective.

My Perspective on Ferguson

I spent last week on a family vacation and enjoyed a peaceful week relaxing in the mountains.  I definitely wasn’t cut off from the world, but I was focusing on time with family and far from gathering immediate information and news updates. Because of this, the news of what happened in Ferguson, MO was slow to get to me, but when it did and I saw what the media was saying (and the facts they were blatantly NOT saying) as well as what was flying around social media, I felt physically ill. I’ve avoided the topic as much as I can.  It makes me angry, sad, and makes my heart ache, but I’ve finally been able to sort out some thoughts, and I will try to articulate (although there’s been so much swirling around my head, this has been a tough one).

The whole situation, along with many other things that have happened in the past few years have made me progressively more cynical.  I am becoming that person.  The person who wants to move to the middle of nowhere and cut off contact with nearly everyone I’ve ever known.  The world feels so full of hate and that hatred (although I’m sure every generation has said this) feels worse than ever.

We as a society like to categorize things as black and white. You’re this political party or that one. One religion or another. Justified or not. Right or wrong. And once you’re given one of those labels, that’s all people see you as, all you’re allowed to believe.  You’ve essentially draw your line in the sand and must stay there.  No middle ground.  No budging.

We’re so quick to place blame. So egotistical to presume that one side is the only one causing the problem. Quick to spread viral misinformation. Haughty to believe that we always have it right over everyone else.

And then that hate, that false information, that finger pointing spreads like a plague, infecting everyone with negativity and prejudices. It’s really easy to point those fingers when you disagree with someone, when you don’t have the correct info, when you weren’t there, when it wasn’t your choice to make.

But here’s the truth. The world isn’t black and white. It’s all shades of gray. And we are all the problem. No political party has all the answers or the ability to heal the world. No religion holds absolute truth. No news outlet reports only the facts without any bias, missing or incorrect information.

 This story out of Ferguson, like all others, is filled with shades of gray, with different versions and facts coming from different directions. Different rights and wrongs depending on who you ask.

Pretty much the only thing black and white out of all of this is that one of our officers made a split second decision that ended a life. He will have to live with that.  The deceased’s family will have to live with that.  A community will have to live with that.  That is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. And I’m sad for everyone involved.

 

Friday Favorites: Work, Play, Blog Love

Related to Work

Working from home: There’s nothing quite like rolling out of bed and logging into your work computer while sipping coffee in your PJ’s.  (I get to do it every Friday!)  No rush hour traffic, no scramble to get yourself, a baby, and 3 dogs ready for the day, and when I’m done for the day, I’m already home!

Standing desk: I don’t know about any other mamas out there, but I definitely jacked something in my tailbone up when I was giving birth.  Since then, sitting for extended periods of time has really bothered my hips and tailbone.  In December, it reached a point that was pretty excruciating, to the point that I couldn’t handle sitting for a full day.  When I heard we had some sit/stand workstation setups floating around the office, I jumped at the chance to get one. I now stand for a couple of hours every day, and being able to switch it up has made all the difference.

 

Related to Play

Having a 16 month old:  She’s pretty awesome. She is curious, bright, social, fun, and loving.  She’ll sit at the table and color, dance to music, and mimic almost anything we do.  She is past the helpless baby stage but pre cranky toddler stage. Yeah, Mom Life is pretty good right now.

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Summer: Even as a working adult who doesn’t get summers off, there’s still something special about it.  Summer seems to bring more time with friends, sunshine, laughter, sand and water, tasty drinks, and so much joy.

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JD on light duty: We leave at the same time every morning.  We arrive home at the same time every night.  He has every weekend off.  There is something almost uncomfortable about the normalcy of it all, but it’s been such a blessing in disguise.  It gives us time to enjoy all those wonderful summer things I just mentioned, as a family, 100% of the time.

 

Favorite Bloggers and Blog Posts

I love, love reading blogs, and I’m always looking for new ones.  For any of you looking for new blogs to follow, here are my favorites.

One thing I will mention is that I follow several police wife blogs, but none of the ones I follow have posted recently.  Maybe someday I can do a post completely dedicated to police wife blogs.  In the meantime, suggestions welcome!  Post your favorite blogs in the comments 🙂

 

Ain’t No Mom Jeans– She is my blog crush. (Is that a thing?  If not, I’m making it a thing.  In a non-creepy way, of course.)  I love her blog so much because she takes such an honest look at motherhood, and a practical approach to being a fashionable mom, whether pregnant, postpartum, nursing, or just chasing young kiddos around. (Also, she recently battled breast cancer and still manages to look fabulous all the time.)

She recently posted about a trip to a conference without her kids, and the comments she made about returning home really resonated with me. I could have written it myself, really.

“Mamas home, where she belongs. And I do belong here, right here, with them. But part of me wants the expansive me, the one with vision, and personal goals that are very different from the goals of a mother. I guess that’s the trick, right? This balance of what you can give vs what you need; I want it all.”

 

Working Mom Magic– I feel like most mom blogs out there are by stay-at-home moms.  I’m not trying to demean what they do in any way, but it is very different than being a working mom.  It’s nice to read a blog from another mama who’s out there, like me, doing the work thing.

I really, really enjoyed this post where she talks about the dangers of the “everybody wins” attitude.

I also really enjoyed her post about following your mom instincts, which sometimes means ignoring what the books and “experts” tell you.  So.  True.

 

Airing My Dirty Laundry– Her husband is in the Air Force, and while I feel a sense of camaraderie towards her for being a military spouse, it also reminds me to be thankful that JD is ONLY a LEO and not a LEO in the military.  Her husband deploys.  A lot.  And she has 2 kids.  Yuck.

She posted recently about people who tell her that the military lifestyle is “easy.”  A big WTF to that.

 

Hands Free Mama– In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of work, school, activities, and the distractions of cell phones, iPads, and TVs.  She is an absolutely beautiful writer who reminds us to focus on the things that really matter in life, like our kiddos.

 

A Game of Diapers– Two full-time working parents and 3 kiddos, 2 of which are twins?!  Oh my, I have no idea how she does it, folks.

 

Healthy Slice of Life– A good blog, especially if you like cooking and focusing on feeding your family with nutritious, healthy foods.  I hate cooking, but for some reason still really enjoy this blog.  That must mean something 🙂

 

 

 

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.

Thursday Tip- Creating a Joint Family Gmail Calendar

Adding a Joint Calendar

It’s hard to have a daily routine when your schedule is constantly changing. It’s also hard to plan ahead or make plans with people.  Night shift, day shift, work from home, travel, in service training, off duty work, babysitter vs. JD’s grandma vs. family friend for child care… it’s a LOT to keep track of. And L is only 1- she doesn’t have her own schedule of activities and get togethers yet. It’s going to get worse, people.

To help maintain sanity, I created a Gmail calendar that JD and I can use jointly and syncs to our phones.  It’s been life changing, to say the least. If someone asks if we’re available, I can quickly check the calendar. If JD signs up for off duty, he can add it to the calendar in case he forgets to tell me (which happens quite often). I set alerts for things I’m afraid I’ll forget, add an address that I can easily GPS when it’s time to leave, and create popup reminders for things I need to bring to certain events.

For me, I have 3 calendars- personal, family, and Loralai’s daycare schedule; the family and daycare calendars are shared with JD.  Call it hyper-organized or OCD, but it’s saved us a lot of hassle and confusion.

I thought I’d share the basic instructions on how to do this. I’m assuming 2 things here- you and your significant other each have a Gmail account (or a joint Gmail account) and that you have smart phones.

First, you have to create the calendar.

Log in to your Gmail account, and in the top right corner of the page, you’ll see a grid with 9 boxes. Click on that grid to open menu options, then select Calendar.

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You will be taken to your default calendar. On the left side, there is a red button that will allow to create a new event, a month view below that, and below that a drop down called “My Calendars.” Select the arrow on the right “My Calendars,” and it will allow you to Create a New Calendar.

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On the next screen, you’ll need to name your calendar, select your time zone, and enter the email address(es) that you want to share with. Be sure to select the correct permissions for each person you share the calendar with. If you want them to be able to add and change events, you will need to select one of those options from the Permission Settings to the right of their email address.

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Now, click Create Calendar at the top of the screen!

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Anyone invited to the calendar will receive an email notifying them of the new calendar and the calendar will be automatically added to their Gmail account. Everyone invited to the calendar will be able to access it under My Calendars on the left side of the screen.

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To create an event, select the red “Create” button and fill out all of the information.image007

 

A few features to highlight…

**Be sure to select the right calendar from the Calendar dropdown to make sure the event populates to your joint calendar

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**Use the reminder settings to either send an email reminder and/or a pop-up that will appear on your phone, if you’d like (I am a reminder fiend). Note: Reminder settings will NOT populate to the other user(s) of your joint calendar. So if I set up a reminder, my husband will not get that same reminder. He could manually set his own, if he wanted (he doesn’t, but he could).

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Once you’re finished, be sure to hit the “Save” button!

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Once saved, the event will automatically populate on desktop and mobile devices (assuming the calendar is synced to the mobile device) for all calendar users.

And speaking of syncing…

The instructions are different for each type of mobile device.  I’m not going to detail out sync instructions for the different device types, but I’ve linked to some instructions below, for reference.

iPhone or iPad

Android

BlackBerry

 

Police Wife Ladies Night

For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to do some kind of get together for the wives and girlfriends in JD’s department. I know some of them from his academy and some of them from his squad, but we very rarely see each other, and when we do, it’s at some kind of squad get together, kids birthday party, etc. While I love spending time with the officers and their families, I crave girl time. No kiddos, no men, just some girl chat and sangria (sitting at home alone with sangria just isn’t the same… and is also borderline alcoholic).

The problem is, for the longest time all I really did was think about it. I wish I got together with the police wives more. It would be nice to see them. It would be nice to sit and chat with a group of ladies who can relate. But the idea of coordinating that many people, all with different schedules, who are located all over the city, was daunting. Plus, I was afraid people would think my idea was stupid (which was stupid in itself, anyone who feels that way simply doesn’t have to attend). So I continued to think about it, but never took action.

Then, one of the wives reached out to me on Facebook. She mentioned that she reads my blog (hey girl!) and enjoyed being able to relate to someone who “gets it.” We chatted a bit on messenger, and I realized that the time for me to take action was long overdue.

I created a Facebook event and sent it to the wives I was friends with, and encouraged them to forward to anyone else who may be interested. As suspected, nailing down a date that worked for everyone was difficult, but I eventually picked 4 dates and told everyone to comment with the dates that absolutely did not work for them. Somehow, I ended up with a date that seemed to work for everyone.

Location was another thing. My original idea was to meet out at a restaurant in a central location, but one of the wives offered to host at her house, so we decided on a potluck where everyone brings an appetizer or drink. The location isn’t convenient for everyone, but my hope is that this will become a regular thing, so maybe we can rotate location.

Right now, we have about a dozen ladies who are planning to attend, which I think will be a great number to start. If we can continue doing this monthly or bi-monthly, maybe we’ll see more. But growth really isn’t my goal- there could be 3 ladies or 30- what I really want to accomplish is reaching out to other wives who are craving that same kind of connection I am. I want to develop a network of women who are there to support each other, because we definitely all need it to survive the crazy LEO life.

As I was doing the planning for our Ladies Night, I posted about it on Twitter, and I was surprised by the feedback I got from fellow LEO wives and girlfriends (in other areas) who said they felt really disconnected from the families in their departments. Isn’t one of the advantages of being a LEOW the camaraderie? Then, it hit me that maybe spouses/significant others get left out of this aspect because we’re not on the line doing the work every day- we’re at home playing the supporting role. It’s easy to connect with someone who you’re working with day in and day out, but it takes more effort to reach out to people you don’t know.

For fellow LEOW, Wives Behind the Badge is an awesome organization.  They have local auxiliary groups popping up all over the country that plan events and would be a great place to meet LEOW near you.  If there isn’t one by you, see if you can get one started!  Or, hop on their forum to chat with LEOW from all over.

While those tools are great, nothing beats a little face time.  I’d like to encourage anyone reading this (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a LEOW- reach out to fellow moms in the area or carve out time to meet up with some girlfriends once a month, whatever it is YOU need) to take that first step and get something going.  Go to a wine tasting, meet up for a movie (one that’s rated OVER PG!), or have a game night (and by games, I mean drinks and gossip).