Life Uncovered: A Life in Undercover
It’s dinner time again and I am standing over our well used, rarely cleaned, stove stirring some sort of concoction that my kids will eat. This concoction will morph into a meal that will taste and somewhat resemble real food when my husband finally gets to come home and warm it up. My kids walk through the kitchen and calmly ask, “Is daddy coming home tonight.” That is a question that I have grown accustomed to answering nearly every night. Daddy wasn’t there when the girls woke up because duty called at 4am and he has never missed a task force call out. Tonight he is still working. Working with no end in sight. I haven’t heard from him in hours and have no idea when to expect him to be home. OUR LIVES MOVE FORWARD ANYWAY Our lives move forward and the girls wash their hands for dinner and head to the table. His schedule is supposed to be from 9-5 on paper. He is supposed to work an eight hour shift a day. Today he left at 4am. It is now 7pm.
My husband has been working undercover for three years. And it feels like a lifetime. His schedule changes daily, hourly, every ten minutes sometimes.
There have been days where he parked his squad in the garage only to slide it back in reverse and leave for another full day. He goes days without seeing our kids and weeks without a sit down dinner at home. He loves his job and his team. He is good at his job and so are his teammates.
UNPREPARED FOR OUR NEW REALITY
Our lives revolve around his job. I heard when he applied for this assignment that we would be dealing with insane shifts and that I would be alone often and that the assignment is a scary position. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional wreck I am on days I cannot reach him. This happens on days where I know they are going after someone extremely violent who has been aggressive towards police.
I was not ready for the work to come first and the family to come second. I was not ready for the desensitization that has happened to my husband. The stories he tells about firearms they pull daily...and he tells these stories like they are just another day at work. He is always going after the worst and the most violent offenders.
He has become fixated on the worst case scenarios because of all the bad he sees. Every day, he sees terror, hate, neglect, abused children and women who have been beaten. He is never helping someone with a task or saving someone’s life in a moment of despair. To me that is the scariest part. He is only seeing the hate and isn’t able to easily see the wide majority of the world who still love him and his breed.
MY BIGGEST WORRY - IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE
When your world becomes colored by the constant barrage of hate and negativity being thrown at you on a daily basis, you begin to shelter yourself. While I know his heart is full of goodness, I am worried that all the negativity and despair he encounters daily are taking a toll on his soul. Much like the majority of his blue brothers and sisters, his soul is genuinely good and loving. I did not expect this to be my biggest worry. I did not expect this to be what keeps me up at night and makes me fall to my knees and pray.
I also did not expect to become engulfed in this life either. I did not expect to have to hide the real reasons why my husband isn’t around very much. I did not expect to have to lie and say that he was sleeping instead of out there chasing offenders. The vast majority of civilian family members and friends don’t understand. They want to know details, the who, the where, the when, and the how….the things that cannot and will not be shared.
When we do share with our close friends and family members what his his real job is, they are often envious that his job is exciting and rush-filled. What I want to scream at them is that they have no idea. They have no idea of the real danger. The have no idea of the sadness our kids feel when yet again daddy missed a game, a recital, an awards ceremony or dinner together. While their husbands are late to come home from work, my husband hasn’t been home in 4 days.
It is crushing to hear my kids pray every night for their dad to be home in time for them to fall asleep. But, here at home, this is our reality. We may not wear the kevlar and the badge, but we suit up in a different way to fight a battle of our own.
With all the hardships that come with this life we have experienced some huge positives from it. When he first joined the team, it seemed like his entire life was taken over by this new love. We came second and that was a new reality that we would have to learn to live with. Yet, it didn’t play out quite like I expected.
THE NEW REALITY - UNEXPECTED BENEFITS I didn’t expect him to be able to “turn it off” and be home when he is home. When his phone isn’t ringing and his laptop isn’t out, he is fully tuned into whatever our family is doing. I expected our old life to be fully swallowed by this new powerful life, but it has not. He enjoys his time home now more than he ever did before. He is more present when he is home because his home time is few and far between. Our children have grown to make the most of their dad time, too.
Out of everything that this undercover life has to offer, that is far and beyond the best. It made all of us understand the importance of being together whenever we have the chance. I have learned thus far in my life that moments and memories are what my kids truly treasure. My husband may have only slept for 4 hours in two days, but the next thing I see is him wrestling with our oldest or teaching our middle how to clear a room, or cuddling the youngest because she is teething.
He does not want to miss a single moment when he is home.
HOMECOMINGS HAVE NEVER BEEN SWEETER
So when the call comes in that he is actually on his way home, my kids sit by that front window and wait for daddy to pull in and flash his lights. Without fail, my kids cheer and giggle and run to the door and wait for him to come in. He is covered in hugs and kisses like they haven’t seen him in years.
And because of that, I am willing to live undercover for how ever long we need to.
About the writer: Jana is a Mom of three very beautiful girls (and one very naughty pup), the wife of one very handsome officer, a truly devoted volunteer (with the inability to say no), and a lover of all things creative. She currently serves as the Public Relations Coordinator for Backing the Blue Line. She has a huge heart for this organization and loves the support it offers the entire law enforcement community of Minnesota. Join Backing the Blue Line: We invite MN police wives/significant others to become members of Backing the Blue Line to take advantage of all available membership benefits and have additional opportunities to give and receive support. We also invite MN police wives/significant other to join our private Facebook page to belong to a community of support through friendships, networking, and discussion. It is also for raising awareness of the need to support our unique lives and share the bond that comes with being a law enforcement family. Find out more on our About page.