I love Pinterest and I love social media. I enjoy browsing recipes and crafts and I appreciate staying connected with my friends and family (and occasionally stalking an old coworker or a cousin’s new boyfriend). However, I’ve also realized that both of those things can bring on a lot of guilt.
By that I mean they cause me to compare myself to … all of it. I compare my subpar cooking to the gourmet meals on someone else’s board, I compare my living room gallery wall to another beautiful one I found, I compare the number of likes my post got to someone else’s viral photo.
And oftentimes, I feel guilty.
This happens to me a lot in our blue community. I see the lunches other LEOWs pack for their husbands and think about the slapped together PB&J I shoved in my officer’s bag as he was rushing out the door this evening. I see the beautifully crafted LEO appreciation gifts others have made and think, Oh crap, was that today?
And I feel guilty for not being a superstar LEOW that would be featured in a magazine. Forgetting, of course, all of the things I DO do for my officer and how well it works out for us and for our family.
At work (I’m a family therapist) the philosophy we live by when working with our parents is “they’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got.” And isn’t that true of all of us?
We all have different lives and different roles; different amounts of kids or pets or jobs or responsibilities. And I feel confident in saying that you (yes, you!) are doing the best that you can for your blue family.
And it is enough!
The other weekend my officer woke up around dinnertime (he works graves) and asked me what I had done that day. I sheepishly replied “nothing” as the guilt started to creep up. But then he smiled and said “good, you deserve to relax.”
Immediately, my first thought was, No I don’t. I hadn’t had a particularly hard week, and my to-do list was still sitting on the kitchen counter. But then I started thinking about what I would say to him if the roles were reversed.
Whenever my officer has a day or a weekend off I fully encourage him to relax and refuel. I don’t ask him to do an obscene amount of chores (usually) or pack our day full of planned activities (unless they’re super fun, or involve wine). In fact, I’m happy when he stays put on the couch for the morning and gets caught up on a book or Netflix and refills his tank.
So why is it so hard for me to do the same?
If you are one of the LEOWs who makes complicated bento box lunches for your officer and loves researching recipes and nutrition and playing around with new combinations, yay you! That’s awesome! And if you’re a LEOW who is incredibly crafty and whose handwriting looks like an angel’s (looking at you, amazing sister-in-law), heck yeah! Go on with your bad self.
And if you’re a LEOW who feels like your house is always messy, you’re always behind on laundry, and you accidently sent your husband with an empty lunchbox one-day (not speaking from experience, of course), you rock, too!
I encourage all of us to stop comparing ourselves and quit feeling guilty about what we are or aren’t doing for our blue families, because I guarantee that you’re doing the best that you can and your officer is grateful for you.
As LEOWs we are often the unsung heroes of our households (is that being a little dramatic?) and no matter what you think you could be doing better/more of/insert your unrealistic expectation here, you are rocking it.
The next time you feel guilty about sticking a frozen pizza in the oven or feeling annoyed that your officer is still at work, I urge you to also think about all of the things you’ve done for your blue family. You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got, and let me tell you, it isn’t easy, but you’re crushing it.
From one LEOW to another, thank you. Thank you for taking on such a hard role, and thank you for being an encouragement to me and to one another. Blue life sure isn’t easy but it’s rewarding and wonderful and unlike anything else, frozen pizza and empty lunchboxes included.
Cote is a family therapist and LEOW. She uses her background and education as an MSW to provide support for police families and marriages, and is the founder of the faith based blog ammo + grace.