This past Friday the police department hosted a spouse’s dinner for members of the current police recruit class and their spouses and/or parents. Admittedly, I thought it was going to be a downer of an evening and kept wondering why the first time they were getting us all together had to have such serious overtones. While some of the subject matter was indeed heavy at times, it was an eye-opening experience and one that was entirely necessary. I’m just beginning to wrap my head around what exactly it means to be a police officer’s wife.
I am thankful every day that Shane did not decide to be a police officer in a place where violent crime is more prevalent. I joke that the worst thing on this island are meth-heads. However, I guess I have naively neglected to think about all the things police officers do and the scenes Shane will face on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, they did not paint a horrible picture of the awful things Shane will experience as a police officer in order to scare us. They touched on some of these things to help clarify what our spouses will indeed experience in their chosen profession and how that might affect the way they interact with their families and friends in their personal life.
The bigger focus was on the interpersonal relationships of our police officers with their families and particularly their spouses. This reinforced one of our reasons for moving to Hawaii: the strong emphasis the community as a whole places on family. The department wants to take care of (and retain) their recruits and they appreciate the role that an officer’s family and his relationships within that family play in his well-being and ability to perform his job.
The evening included presentations by three police officers and their spouses speaking to the challenges they (and their marriages) have faced in light of the officers’ chosen careers. They discussed candidly and openly, among many things, the burden the officer may feel regarding things he witnesses and how he deals with that burden, the long and irregular hours the officers work, what parenting children with a police officer looks like, how to keep the spark in your marriage despite these obstacles, infidelity among police officers and their spouses – all serious subject matter.
I left the dinner feeling quite overwhelmed – I am still – thinking about all the aspects of our new life they covered. These particular items have been bouncing around my mind since Friday evening:
“If you already have children, you may feel like a single parent right now. Get used to it. For the next 3-5 years you will mostly be a single parent.”
“Your life will now revolve around your police officer’s job: his schedule, when he’s home, when he’s sleeping. Everything will revolve around him.”
“Don’t plan on your spouse being there for holidays, special events, his birthday, your birthday. The only vacation time he’ll be eligible for will be the first weeks of the school year until he gains seniority.”
Obviously these things aren’t what anybody wants to hear! I feel kind of naive and silly for not thinking about some of this sooner. This isn’t just a new career for Shane – it’s a new career for our entire family!
The spouse’s dinner has sparked an ongoing conversation between me and Shane regarding how his career as a police officer will fit in with our family dynamic. I’ve been thinking very seriously about what this means for me and what God is calling me to do.
Any and all prayers for us are welcome as Shane continues his training and as we all adjust to our new home, new life and our new roles – whatever those may be.