It’s a different life being a police wife.
It is one filled with joy and happiness, sorrow and fear, and a whole lot of pride. It is one that there is no escaping, for it’s always a part of who I am, every moment of every day. It dictates how I schedule my life and my work, and just try scheduling anything with certainty when you’re working around something as unpredictable as police work! It can be a roller coaster of a ride with emotional highs, lows, and the mundane that can lead to boredom and loneliness. It is not a life I would have ever predicted leading when Mike and I married but now, having lived a “police wife life” for 17 years, I cannot imagine living any other way.
Mike and I met at our first “real” job after college - a job that offered minimal benefits, poor health insurance, consistently working sixty (or more) hours a week, and all for the whopping salary of $13,750 a year! For some reason we had both decided a career in social services working with behavior-disordered teens at a residential treatment center was a good use of our newly acquired college degrees. No plush office job for either of us! Instead, we welcomed the challenge of rolling up our sleeves and putting in a hard day’s work in an environment that was volatile and frequently dangerous (and not always with the teens we worked with but at times with the other staff, as well).
Mike first told me his dream was to be a cop a few months into dating but, at that time, his uncorrected vision actually deemed him legally blind and in the state of Illinois he could not become a certified officer with his vision restrictions. Oh, he could easily see 20/20 with corrected vision but, without glasses or contact lenses, he was Mr Magoo! At that time I also told him I could never marry a police officer because I wanted a “9 to 5” life with weekends and holidays together. I did not believe I would be capable of surviving the loneliness that life would entail. That was the first and last conversation we had about this subject – circumstances had taken care of the issue for us - until a couple years later when he underwent surgery and successfully had his vision corrected to 20/15.
We were several years into dating when that happened and now the dream of being a police officer was once again “alive” in Mike’s heart. Of course, this inevitably led to a very difficult conversation, and we broke up. My childhood had been rough and emotionally unstable. I was a very early “latchkey kid” (from the age of 6) and my parents emotionally unavailable. If anyone asks who raised me, the answer is “it was basically me.” I had to be an adult at a very young age. My parents provided for me financially but my dad was drunk by the time I came home from school and my mom – never an emotionally “warm” maternal figure in the first place - worked extremely long hours as the household’s steady bread winner. Needless to say, I had already been emotionally abandoned most of my life, so a future husband who would be vacant due to his work schedule was not a future I wanted. I craved consistency and stability.
Our break up lasted 8 hours. Mike chose me over his dream of being a cop. He understood where I came from and he knew he wanted a life together with me. At that moment he made the ultimate sacrifice of a lifelong dream for me. Soon after we got engaged, and were married a year later. He set aside his dream of being a cop and began to pursue a Master of Social Work degree so to further his career in social service.