I know, I know. I haven't been on here in AGES. But here I am now. A new cop wife on the National Police Wives Association page asked a question that I responded to. I thought it'd be nice to post my answer here. I'm not sure how it'll work with formatting, but I'll give it a try.
"My husband just started with the sheriff's department and just found out he is going to be working nights. I'm really struggling with it! I have a 2 year old and also due on Aug 4th. I support my hubby and don't want him to see me secretly freaking out that he won't be home @ night and I'm a little nervous that I can't do it all! How did other Leo wives deal with this? Thanks."
Our small department works 12's and my husband prefers nights as it's when you can get the most done as far as being a crimefighter. After 30 years it's become our normal way of life.
Someone mentioned reading I Love A Cop by Dr. Ellen Kirschman. It's an excellent book and I highly recommend it. In fact, we recommend it to all of the new cops' families (this includes their parents). I'd also suggest you read Emotional Survival by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin. He's a retired cop and everything he says WILL apply to you and your family. Get to know the other wives in the department and get to know your neighbors. If you need someone in a hurry, and your husband can't get away, they'll come in handy.
When our kids were little, and not yet in school, we adjusted their schedule to match their daddy's, without getting it too out of whack. Depending on what kind of shift he works (10's, 12's, 8's), you might be able to do that. We let our girls stay up later so they could spend time with him and then we just slept in later.
You get used to being a married single parent and you just do it because it's what you need to do. Your feelings are going to be hurt many times when he'll be unable to be around for Mother's Day, Easter, Christmas, etc. Get yourself a good support system so you don't end up being alone and lonely on important days. That'll just make you miss him more and make you resentful. We ended up in a small town, 4 hours away from any family members. Getting to know the other families in the department was so important.
Remember that he really is married to you, not to his job, and that getting home to you and your family is his number one priority, even if it doesn't always feel like it. This is his calling and what you're doing is your calling. BOTH of you are now in this big wide world of "public service." It definitely won't always be appreciated by the outside world, but then again GET YOURSELF A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM OF OTHER LEO FAMILIES. Have I said that enough times? Good luck. I wouldn't trade these last 30 years for anything.
And . . . no heavy conversations, arguments, fights, etc. before he leaves for work. You don't want a distracted/ticked off cop on the street. It's dangerous for him, dangerous for his partners and dangerous for whomever he needs to protect.
One more thing . . . . . .When you're a cop, it's not just for the time you're at work. Go to the grocery store and run into someone with a warrant and he'll end up doing his work on "family" time. He'll get called out when you have plans. He'll have court on his time off. He'll see things happen off duty and he'll need to address them. It's not a job. It's a life. You'll get used to it.
And (one more thing . . . really), if it's allowed in your department, go on ride-alongs when you can. You need to see what your husband does. It will give you a very good understanding of what he has to put up with. It's that whole 8 hours of boredom followed by 30 seconds of sheer terror thing. Plus you'd be amazed at the number of (how to put this nicely) stupid people they have to deal with.
To be continued . . .
Expecting the worst.
He will change.
He will see bad things.
Keep the house relatively nice and non-chaotic. His refuge.
Some things he won't tell you.
Some things he can't tell you.
You'll learn how to do things you never thought you'd do and you'll have to do things on your own.