Little One Behind the Badge
Today I write to you from my heart. See I am a police wife. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a teacher. I am a coach. I am an author. Today, like many other days, I scroll through my social media feed only to read another police officer has been involved in an altercation, beaten, shot, or even worse killed in the line of duty. As I turn on my scanner to hear my husband’s voice, I sit and wonder, do people understand what it is like from my side?
I just don’t think they do.
The day I pinned the badge on him was the day I become the mother and the father, the listener, the silent worrier, the protector, and more than anything the cheerleader that keeps him going every single day he works. What does it mean exactly, to wear all those hats?
My husband works the dog shift or night shift. For five out of seven days per week, I have to be the mother and the father to our son. My husband gets up when we get home from school. He eats breakfast, gets ready and leaves within the one hour after our arrival. During the days that he works we (my son and I) cannot share a lot about our day with him, not because he does not want to know, it is more because he is preparing for his night ahead; an evening full of uncertainties that require him to think in a split second and listen to others in need.
So we remain silent, making small talk as to not disrupt his ritual for getting ready. Truly, we just stay out of his way.
As a result, we go about our night doing our evening activities, homework, sports, etc. Some nights we leave before he leaves for work or sometimes we may not even see him at all. My 10-year-old son has learned that daddy needs to be focused and ready to go.
My husband kisses us goodnight, tells my son he is the man of the house, and that is the last we hear of him until he comes home in the morning.
Now my son gets to share his dad with over 30,00 people. Imagine having to share your mother or your father with that many people almost everyday. My son understands that his daddy will go to many calls to help adults and children that we do not even know.
So, I ask could your child share you?
While my husband is at work I step into the role of being the mother and father. I run my son to his various activities and discipline him when needed. Consequently, I am pretty much the bad guy on these nights. Moreover, I complete the chores around the house and attend to my work as a teacher.
Because of his work, my husband has missed a lots of firsts, seconds, thirds, etc. He has missed birthdays (in fact our son’s first birthday), holidays, our son’s first hit in baseball, the list goes on and on. Our son understands. Yet like any child, he is sad about Daddy not being there.
However, when he is there it makes it only sweeter. He understands that his dad is out being a hero. We have learned holidays and birthdays would never fall on the day that they really happened and our family would have to constantly need to work around his sleeping hours. But, these are just days in a year, holidays and birthdays can be celebrated another day.
One night as I was sitting at home listening to our police scanner, I thought to myself, do children of police officers understand the importance of what their parents do each day?
I scoured the internet in search of a children’s book that shows the heroic efforts of their parents. There was nothing, so I wrote. The birth of the Little One Behind the Badge was born.
This story was developed to show not only police children, but also others that many of these people are moms and dads that live normal lives outside of wearing a uniform. It shows what it is like for the agency, the department families, and the community to lose an officer in the line of duty. This book is to help us learn the other side to an officer. This life from the family side is very different and non-traditional, but we make it work!
Jenny Swartout lives in Minnesota with her husband, son, and two large puppies. She has been a police officer’s wife for twelve years, a mother for eight, and an elementary school teacher for thirteen years; and she has been sharing stories the entire time. Along this journey, she’s been helping kids and adults understand the unique lifestyle of a police officer’s family.