To the other night shift police wives*,
You are not alone.
Somewhere there is another first responder’s wife feeling the same way you are. She wonders just how she’ll make it through – just like you are.
We’re all trying to navigate this crazy life we were given and to support our husbands. All of that while taking care of our families. It’s not always easy.
Sometimes you feel on top of the world like you can handle anything on the home front and the dangers of his job don’t worry you one bit. Sometimes you feel like you’re cracking at the seams and you fear for his safety every hour of his shift.
It’s normal, and you’re not alone.
It’s not easy coming home from work just to eat dinner as a family and watch your husband head into work. You may see each other for less than an hour and feel more like roommates with opposite schedules than husband and wife. Sometimes the only thing you have time to talk about is the status of the kids or chores around the house. Some nights the only communication you get is via text message – that is if he responds to you, which is never a guarantee.
It’s not easy to have a giant bed that you share only a few times a week unless of course the dog and the kids decide to join you.
It’s not easy to explain night after night why Daddy has to work at night and why he can’t tuck them in.
It’s not easy to listen to your children cry because all they want is for Daddy to be there. You keep trying to explain that he’ll be there another night and of course he would rather be there if he could, but he can’t.
It’s okay that sometimes you want to cry right along with them because you’re too tired to do it all.
You are not alone, though it might feel like it sometimes.
It’s not easy to try and keep small children quiet during the day so your husband can sleep. It’s heartbreaking to listen to your kids ask over and over again when Daddy will wake up because he’s more fun than you.
I know how he is – but as he’s pointed out time and time again, he’s a novelty who’s not around as much as you are. You’d be more fun too if you didn’t have to grocery shop, cook, clean, etc.
Your kids are master manipulators, remember that.
You are not alone if you’ve ever just lost it into a pile of tears wondering how you’re going to do it. It’s not easy to hold it together for the family and act like everything’s okay when you’re not sure it is.
You try to be supportive of your husband, but it’s not easy.
They have stories of violence, blood, and gore that are not normal, but for them sharing gruesome stories can be therapeutic. It’s not easy to read comments in papers of people blasting police officers – it all feels so personal. It’s not easy to know what to say when your husband has had a difficult shift.
Sometimes you’re not the most supportive wife because you’re human. He may have had a bad night, but frankly, you did too. You may have been up with a sick kid and a teething baby, but he was first on the scene of a death. They don’t compare, but it’s not a competition. Sometimes you have to accept that you both had a bad night and move on.
It’s not easy spending one more holiday all by yourself. You have to explain to your kids that the Easter Bunny knows Daddy works, so he’s going to come on Monday instead. It’s not easy watching your husband try to stay awake on Christmas morning to give your children a “normal” holiday even though all he wants and needs to do is sleep. You try not to let it bother you, but it’s hard to visit family and friends without him because he’s working or sleeping every other weekend. You’ve gotten used to date night being in the middle of the week and losing touch with friends. It is hard, but you are not alone.
It’s not easy knowing that this job and this schedule is taking a toll physically and mentally on the man you love. Knowing the only time he looks rested is when he’s on an extended vacation.
Being a first responder is not a job, it is a lifestyle.
The entire family adjusts to that lifestyle. Only people who have lived this life can fully comprehend what it’s like. Remember you are not alone. There are good times, and there are bad. It is not an easy life, but it is a worthwhile life. You and your husband are both doing important work.
To survive and thrive in this lifestyle you MUST support each other and communicate your struggles. Communication is key. Do not be afraid to seek professional help when you need it and know that you are never alone.
A fellow police wife
If you are on Facebook, there are many great police wives pages you can like and follow. Be sure you take care of yourself and control your exposure to media
*Please note this open letter also applies to partners of any first responder who work the night shift.