I have heard many LEOWs talk about being “married single,” the idea being that we are often left to our own devices to raise our children and socialize with our friends while our husbands are on shift, or training. I didn’t understand it quite as well when 354 and I were courting. How could I, when even though we basically lived together, we still had separate lives? After we got married, it became clearer. Married but not getting half as much time together as an average couple, having to fight to spend quality time together, having to adjust (and fast) to the stress of the job as it affected our relationship. With him on nights, it was exponentially harder – a newlywed couple, hardly together unless you counted being in the same house as “together.” He slept while I worked, and I slept (mostly) while he worked, only seeing each other in passing from one shift to another. There were nights I didn’t sleep, up worried because of the call he was on, while the dogs huddled around the bed as they sensed my worry. There were more times spent in anger or frustration that should have been spent in partnership or in discussion. I wasn’t the best wife – I never considered myself the best candidate for marriage in the first place – and I didn’t try very hard to compromise at first. There was a turning point, where both of us said and did things we knew we would regret, and we did, and we apologized. It’s hard enough to be married; it’s so many times harder to be married to someone in public safety. Human nature already makes marriage hard. The job makes it harder.
We spent almost two years out of public safety, as civilians. After he applied, and was accepted, to his current department, things went back to our normal. I’ve gotten used to having the bed to myself more often than not, which is only convenient since I have to get up at least once to feed the baby. I’ve gotten used to trying to do our chores and my projects around him asleep in our part of the house, which was easier when it was just us and the dogs (or maybe it was easier when I had almost an entire house to myself). I’m still getting used to having a car to myself again, and the ability to go places almost whenever and wherever I need or want to.
I feel the same sense of loss from my husband now that I did when we were first married, with the presence of our son in our lives. I understand more readily being married single, now that I experience it as a young mother and LEOW. My husband obviously loves our son, but there’s not much for him to do while Little Man is still… little. And worse than that, not that he means to spend so much time away at work, or asleep in the bed, but there are so many others in the home that are raising his son while he’s patrolling. We live with his parents until we get our feet under us, and a place of our own. There are always a pair of hands looking to take the responsibility of caring for our son – out of love, thankfully – when it should be me and my husband raising our child. Instead, it’s me and his parents and his aunt and uncle, with 354 kind of in the background. And it makes me sad to see him with Little Man, knowing how much he loves his boy, and knowing that the only time he gets to spend with him is the short time between sleep and shift.
It’s like being a part of two different households – two ships passing in the night, to borrow the cliche. I never knew how hard it was to be the LEO mom until now, and I suppose that’s a given. How can you know unless you’ve been there?