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.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_2529

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.

IMG_2308

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.

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).

The Dangers of Police Work- It’s Not Always What You Think

There are 2 main things I worry abut with JDs job: The physical danger of what he does, but also the mental toll it takes to be exposed the tragedy he sees daily.

Adding to these stressors, I worry about him being fatigued, and how this may impact his awareness, reaction time, and ability to perform not only at work, but everyday tasks like driving home.  Not only are his shifts long (12 hours), but they’re especially long given the physical and mental demands of what he does.

Some of his hardest days are the first few shifts he’s back on night shift. In JDs department, they do 4 weeks on day shift then switch to 4 weeks of night shift. (Other departments will assign everyone to a certain shift and stick with it or switch every few days. I’m glad he only has to switch once a month, because completely altering your sleep schedule like that is really hard on your body.)  As if completely switching his sleep schedule isn’t hard enough, his designated court day happens to be his first day of his new shift each month (All officers are assigned a designated court day each month when all their cases are handled. JDs happens to be in the morning on the first day after he switches shift.  Confused yet?  Try managing this schedule with a family).

Basically, what this means is that on his first shift of night shift month, he spends all morning in court, goes home to sleep for a few hours, then returns to work at 7pm for a 12 hour shift. There are times I’m not sure how he’ll make it through his whole shift he’s so tired, and when he calls me the next morning when he gets off shift, I can tell he’s barely functioning- I always worry about him falling asleep at the wheel on his way home.

I really don’t know how he does it.  I am NOT a fun person to be around when I’m sleep deprived, so being sleep deprived while dealing with other people’s problems?  No thanks.

Thoughts on Perspective and Being Blissfully Unaware

A few days ago, my quiet little suburb was rocked when someone who was pulled over for suspected DUI ran from the police and was hiding out in a local neighborhood.  After a prolonged manhunt, they did catch the guy, and all was well.

When I say our suburb was “rocked,” that’s only a small exaggeration.  Someone posted about it in a local Facebook group, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at some of the comments.  People’s panic seemed unnecessary since, as far as I know, this was an un-armed, non-violent man, who was simply trying to avoid jail time.  All residents needed to do was double check that their windows and doors were locked, and call it a night.  I know that I really can’t judge because there was a time in my life where I might have been one of the terrified commenters.  The last thing I need to be doing is looking down on someone and saying their feelings and fears aren’t valid.

Still, I can’t help but sometimes hope that those of us fortunate enough to live in the quiet neighborhoods and “good” parts of town will gain a little perspective.  It amazes me how little people know about some of the stuff that goes on in our city.  Most of what JD deals with on a daily basis is never mentioned in the news.  People are usually shocked when I tell them how bad it really is.

The part of the city where he works is a haven for gangs, drugs, prostitutes, and drive-by shootings (which sometimes harm innocent bystanders).  People forget that he’s not just out there writing traffic tickets; in fact, he’s rarely out there writing traffic tickets, because he’s too busy getting in foot chases, wrestling with suspects, dealing with shootings, and chatting up gang members.

That’s why, after all his time on the police force, after watching him put on a bullet-proof vest every day and hearing about the times he’s drawn his gun, or seen suspects threaten him or his fellow officers, I really don’t care about a drunk hiding out behind someone’s trashcan (or wherever it was they found him).  It makes you realize how fortunate so many of us are- to live in the areas where we can be blissfully unaware.