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.

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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.

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.”

 

All About Perspective

Over the past few weeks, work has been pretty stressful. I’ve been keeping busy transitioning from my old role to my new one, helping to get the new hires on my old team up to speed, training for the new team I’m supporting, and have had 2 major projects with quick turnaround times thrown into the mix. Nearly every day, I’ve come home with something to vent to JD about, and he’s been super supportive and a solid listener.

The thing is, sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be complaining to JD about work. I mean, really, what do I know about work stress? Ultimately, it’s all about perspective, but sitting in an office dealing with an irate account manager is very different than chasing down a felon.

Honestly, how can I sit here and whine about insignificant work problems when JD is out in the world dealing with real problems? But, being the great hubby he is, he’s never thrown that in my face. I’ve never felt like I can’t vent to him about work, because I know he’s not going to turn around and tell me “Well some guy pulled a knife on me today, so I don’t wanna hear it.”

But sometimes I wonder how he can even take my work stories seriously.

A typical Jenny work story is something like “So they totally changed this process on us and didn’t tell us.  So we sent this issue to team A but they sent it back and had to send it to team B.  I was so irritated.”

A typical JD work story is “Well I started out the day by chasing down a suspect.  I had to tackle him and wrestle with him to get him cuffed.  Later, I had to pepper spray this guy on bath salts.  Luckily, I didn’t get any on me because that really burned last time.”

Definitely not the same.

 

Strength.

With as many challenges that come with being a LEOW, there are certainly plenty of advantages.

First and foremost, the uniform, obviously.  What lady DOESN’T love a man in uniform? It’s one thing to use a man in uniform as eye candy, it’s another thing when your own husband happens to be your eye candy 🙂

On a more serious note….

When I reflect on the time that JD has spent as a LEO, the one word that comes to mind is strength. I’m not just referring to the physical and mental strength it takes for him to be out patrolling the streets, but the strength it takes for me to support his career, and the strength it takes for our relationship to survive it. This job- this lifestyle­- has made me stronger as an individual and made us stronger as a couple.

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Although I consider myself a pretty independent person, I used to have anxiety about being alone at night. I thought every little noise meant someone was breaking in to torture and kill me.  But the more nights I’ve spent alone, the less scary it has become, partially because I’ve gotten used to it, but partially because you reach a point where you realize I’m going to spend 25% of my nights alone and it’s just too much wasted energy to be worried about it all the time (of course, having 3 giant guard/attack dogs doesn’t hurt).  If he spent every night by my side, I never would have overcome that fear, because I would have become dependent on him being there. I don’t need him because I can’t need him. That’s simply not an option, whether we’re talking about nighttime anxiety or dealing with car maintenance or lifting an 80 pound dog into a SUV- the option to defer to him isn’t always there.

That’s not to say we’re not a team. We each have to do a lot of things on our own, but without teamwork, patience, and good communication, we would be lost. We have to approach all aspects of our life and marriage as equals, and be willing to pull a little extra weight when the other is feeling overwhelmed. I know that’s true of any marriage and is certainly not unique to a LEO marriage, but it seems the stressors of his job leave less room for error in his personal/family life.

Strength.  That is what a life in law enforcement has given us.  Well, that and uniforms.  Both things to be thankful for 🙂