Thursday, July 10, 2014

What it's like to love a LEO.

Police Wife. This is a title. It is not a title to be taken lightly, just as Police Officer is not a title to be taken lightly. Even though it is a title that is heavy to carry, it is also one that should be carried proudly. I am proud of my husband and the sacrifices he makes. We are all the same. All of us. All the good police wives. We love our LEO's. We deal with all the crap that comes from their job. I feel very inclined to explain this since lately I have seen way too many girls casually date an officer and then complain about how difficult it is. That is not difficult. You have not earned the right to talk about how difficult it makes your life. I am going to point out some very key differences.

This one was pointed out by a friend and it's a very good example. Saying "Oh no, date night is cancelled" when your boyfriend can't make it to a movie on time is not difficult. Telling your children that you're sorry Daddy won't be home to tuck them in again even though he should've been home hours ago is difficult. Opening presents on Christmas morning without Daddy is difficult. Planning a birthday party around a bad schedule at a bad time just so he can be there and then still having it without him because he got a call out is difficult. Eating dinner as late as possible every night hoping he'll make it home is difficult. School functions, family get togethers, dinners, sleeping... these are all things you learn to do alone and maybe, just maybe, you'll get lucky enough that his schedule makes some time available for something.

We spend a lot of time listening to people talk about how bad LEO's are. We understand that there are some less-than-perfect officers out there. We also know that our husbands ARE NOT those officers. I'm sure you've eaten a bad peanut before, but that doesn't make you think every other peanut in the world is bad so why does this rule apply to LEO's? When you can sit around and talk with your buddies about how sucky officers are you are not invested. When you are invested in your officer, you don't want to hear it. You know when you hear about how an officer was rude on a traffic stop that there's a good chance he was at a call with beaten children right before that. Let's see you act like sunshine and rainbows after you just saw a wife that was beaten to the point they had to go to the hospital. Or had to extract a child from a meth lab. Or watched someone enable an addict by selling them more crack or heroin. Trust me, most people couldn't handle the everyday things officers deal with. Then they come home and guess who they vent to? Us. The wives. They don't give us names or gory details. We get just enough information to understand why they are the way they are tonight. We don't get mad because they may be in a less than pleasant mood. We also don't get mad when we have to take a backseat to our children because those little faces that light up when they see Daddy are his favorite thing to see at the end of the day. We just stand by proudly while he hugs them, glad he made it home to them one more day. We wait our turn, which is usually when he lays on the couch next to us and falls asleep. That is quality time.

When you're a police wife, your day starts when you see your hero getting into a bulletproof vest. Even if you're not home to see this, you know what time it is. That's when your day, no matter what else you have going on, begins. That's when the worry starts. When you have a LEO boyfriend for a week or two you may think it's sexy. It's not. When you have a LEO husband, you don't think about how sexy the uniform is. You think about how easy your life would be if he were getting dressed in anything else. You are not sending your boyfriend out in that uniform. You are sending the love of your life, the father to your children, the person you don't think you can live without, out in it. Not to mention you're sending him out to risk his life for people who for the most part don't appreciate him or even care at all. You think about how that bulletproof vest is hot and miserable for him during the summer but it may be the only thing that brings him home to you one night so you thank God he's hot and sweaty in it. You think about how he carries more than one firearm because he may need extra bullets to stay alive. You can take inventory of his duty belt as well as he can because you truly care about what is in it since those items, from handcuffs to tasers, are what get him home to you. And yes, when you look at him finally all put together you think about how good he looks in that uniform because of the reason he gets in it. Then you wait for hours for the sound of Velcro, because when you hear that you know he made it home one more night.

We are the group of people who are casually grocery shopping with our husbands only to turn around and realize they are nowhere near. We know this means that someone they arrested is nearby and they don't want us to be seen with them. When our husbands don't answer the phone we don't have a mini heart attack because we're jealous, we have one because our worst fears hit the surface. We automatically think they may have gotten shot. Every. Single. Time. We know that when we walk in a restaurant and sit down, we will have our back to the door because they have to observe what is happening and map exits. When we hear a "brother in blue" has been killed, we all mourn because it is a fear all too real for us. We respect firefighters, paramedics, and their wives because we know how their schedules can be and how dangerous their jobs can be. We also feel for our LEO's because they save just as many lives as those professions but they are hated for it. They are in the only life-saving career that most people hate to admit to. It's much easier to say "He works for the city" than to tell the full truth and listen to the stories people have about how some jerk cop pulled them over for going 30 over the speed limit even though they weren't hurting anyone (yet). We have watched them lose "friends" due to their career choice. We have also watched them gain brothers due to their career choice, just as we have gained sisters.

All of these are big things. There are also things to worry about like wrecks, having to send them out in bad weather when other people are heading in, the girls who see a badge or uniform and feel like they need to mess with them whether they are married or not. Just to clarify, most of us are not concerned that our husbands are going to mess around. Most of us are concerned that our husbands will have to arrest us after we find you and handle you for messing with our men. Relationships are hard on LEO's. Imagine being used to get someone out of a ticket, or hanging out with someone who decides you're not worth it because of your job. You think it's hard to wait tables when you're stressed out? It doesn't compare at all to protecting yourself and others daily in the most violent situations out there while stressed out. So if you're a badge bunny, stop. There are other people in the equation to think about. It's not glamorous being with a LEO. It's hard. Not all of us married LEO's. I didn't. I married a great man who I am so proud of for deciding to be an officer, but we took this journey together. I also know ladies who are not yet married to their officer but they have been together for a while through thick and thin and are not using their badge as a status symbol. One day ladies, you will be one of us. And we will welcome you with open arms. Please don't forget this because you will need all the support you can get at some point and we will be willing to give it.

Police Wife: One of the least gratifying but most important jobs out there. Thanks to all who do it well. Our boys could not make it without our unwavering support and love.

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