Not just a cop, but also a husband and a dad
When the rubber meets the road, it’s your family that is your first line of support and defense
I recently joined Toastmasters. If you’re not familiar, it’s a club designed around improving one’s leadership and public speaking.
Each week, there is a theme to the club’s meeting. Two of the recent ones have been “The many hats we wear” and “Family adventures.” Both meetings got me thinking about the tendency for those of us in public safety to hyper-focus on identifying ourselves as “cop” or “firefighter” or “medic” at the cost of other aspects of our lives, such as being a dad or a husband.
I’ve long held that police officer is what I do, it’s not who I am. That statement’s sentiment is legit, but the statement isn’t necessarily accurate because being a cop is a part of who I am. It’s inescapable.
It’s important to see oneself as a [insert profession here], but it’s equally important to give time to things that, quite frankly, are more important. Take time every day to remind yourself and those you love that you are there for them.
When the rubber meets the road, it’s your family that is your first line of support and defense. There have been a number of times I’ve handled a traumatic detail or witnessed something fairly heinous. Without fail, the first phone call I always make is to the wife. She is my unfailing support system.
When I responded to an officer down, I had a few seconds after the scene was secure to call her. I simply said, “You’re going to see social media talking about an officer down near me. I’m fine, but I’m on scene with him. Start praying. I’ll be home when I can.”
And then I hung up on her.
I knew that she knew I was okay. And I knew she would be there for me when I got home to let it all out. When I walked in the door, I didn’t say I word. I simply walked into her open, loving arms and she folded me up and made the world safe once more.
Conversely, it’s just as important for me to be a sounding board for her and my kids should they need me. They are my number one priority. A family means so much more than relations.
When the wife is having a hard time with the kids, she knows she can call me to either simply vent or talk about tactics to overcome whatever issues arise. Sure, when she calls I’m on-duty, but she knows I can push pause on the cop part – unless I’m in the midst of a detail or I get dispatched to something. That’s happened and she gets it, but I know how to play the role of the husband or the daddy.
Far too often, I see cops that only identify themselves as cops.
They are all about it. All the time. To the detriment of every other aspect of their lives. These folks lose their kids. They lose their marriages. They didn’t make the commitment to nurture the myriad of hats we have to wear.
I encourage you to take time every single day to remind not only yourself, but the ones you love, that you are there for them. Because someday – and probably quite often – you’re going to need them to be there for you.