Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quality vs. Quantity

Last night, there was a family readiness presentation for family members of JD’s recruiting class.  I think it’s a great thing that the police department does stuff like this, because being a police officer isn’t just a job, it’s a complete lifestyle change.  

As I sat there, I realized that I’d been so focused on getting through the academy, I hadn’t stopped to think how much our lives will change once the academy is over and he’s out on the street.  I was prepared for weird hours and night shifts and dangerous situations and his elevated stress level after a particularly difficult day.  I was not prepared for how it could change him as a person.  I realized that I’ve already started to see a shift.  He has to sit facing the door at restaurants because it’s “tactical,” he wants me to have my own gun to protect myself when he’s not home (I’m constantly reminding him that I have 3 large dogs- Harrier in particular), and he suddenly seems convinced that I need to carry pepper spray in my purse, in case I get attacked in a parking lot… too many crime scene pictures, I guess.  None of these things are necessarily bad, just different, but I know that it will only get worse once he’s out on the street.  He’s going to see some pretty gruesome stuff out there- enough to make anyone more cynical.

As if that isn’t scary enough, the presenter (a police wife) got into how it affects family life, and I was introduced to new stressors.  I knew that because of JD’s weird hours, there will be a lot of times that I will be taking care of our future kids, disciplining them, and taking them to lessons by myself.  What I hadn’t stopped to think about is how it will affect them directly.  JD won’t always be able to see recitals or concerts or games, and although we chose this path for ourselves, our kids never had a say in this plan.  I’m not even a parent yet, and I already feel guilty.

What I have to remind myself is that, although JD won’t always be physically present, I know that he will be an amazing, adoring, attentive father.  Quality over quantity, you might say.  Ideally, our children would have both (just another sacrifice that our military/public safety workers and their families make), but in the end, quality is way more important.  I would take part-time JD over full-time anyone else every single time.

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