What the police academy taught this police wife
My husband may have been the one who left for the police academy, but the experience was for the two of us
By Georgina Butler
Our second son was 8 days old when my husband was sworn into his police department. I was still recovering, and in some pain, but I happily waddled up to hold the Bible for him as he took his oath. Our firstborn was all smiles, excited to see daddy’s new badge. We had cake at a small reception after the ceremony and our son thought the cake was for him since his second birthday was only days away.
Life as a police family is all our boys will ever know. They don’t know about the days their dad wrote lesson plans instead of reports, but I do. I was apprehensive, but supportive when he first mentioned he was considering a career change to law enforcement. I had grown up in a law enforcement family myself and knew that this job choice would entail an entire lifestyle change. I began to worry about the important family events and milestones my husband would miss, and of course, I worried about his health and safety.
One thing I didn’t worry about or even think about was how we would handle his time in the police academy. It would be 16 weeks of him only being home Fridays through Sundays while I cared for our sons. I thought we would get through it all effortlessly.
Getting used to a new normal
My maternity leave ended a few weeks after my husband left for the academy and I quickly established a routine, albeit a chaotic one, so that I would be able to get through each day.
Bills still needed to be paid and the house still needed to be cleaned. There were showers and baths each night. I had to unpack and repack diaper bags, lunch bags, a pump bag and my briefcase. There was laundry to do and outfits to plan. All of this was accomplished each day with minimal sleep since our youngest son nursed every three hours. Life did not stop simply because I was a single parent during the week.
Although I was happy to see my husband on the weekends, I was also resentful of the disruption it caused to our routine. In fact, during one of the only fights we had during his time at the academy, I remember telling him bitterly that I sometimes wished he wouldn’t come home until it was all over. I truly meant it too and it hurt us both. The whole experience was much more difficult than I had anticipated.
Time apart made our relationship stronger
I survived with my sanity mostly intact. The day finally came where I watched my husband graduate from the academy. He was among the top of his class and I was so proud of him. I remember seeing him in his formal uniform and blue tie looking so handsome and thinking I was so lucky to be his. I reflected on everything that we had gone through in the time he was away, and I knew it was all worth it. The experience reinforced we were a great team, and we could not just accomplish, but excel at, our goals with each other’s support. It helped prepare us for the trials we would face throughout his career. He may have been the one who left for the police academy, but the experience was for the two of us.
Knowing what I do now, here are 10 tips I would give other spouses who find themselves in the same position:
- Share in the excitement. This is a big deal! Your officer is following their calling. This is the first step in molding them into the officer they’ve dreamed of becoming.
- Discuss the difficulties you are facing. You’re a team, tackle this together, even though you’re apart. The academy is difficult but so is being left behind at home.
- Communicate often while your spouse is away. Even a quick phone call can go a long way in helping you feel connected to each other.
- Find your new routine, but know that it will change. The academy is the first taste you will get of an unusual family routine. In this profession, the families that thrive are the ones that are adaptable and are flexible.
- Become familiar with the term “married single mom/dad.” You’re on your own while your spouse is away at the academy, but depending on which shift they are placed on, it may not get much better once they’re back home. This may become your new normal.
- Add a countdown and envision graduation day. Sometimes this is all that got me through. I would just focus on putting one foot in front of the other knowing each day we were getting closer to the end goal.
- Know that it will be hard. Becoming a police officer is a dream many have but only a few can see it through. Acknowledge that what you two are going through is difficult, as legitimizing your struggles can go a long way.
- Connect with others who understand what you are going through. Getting tips and advice from others who have been in your shoes can help in reassuring you that, although difficult, this is survivable.
- Start buying lots of Lysol or Febreeze now. Once your significant other is done with the police academy and out on the streets, you will go through bottles like crazy! Police uniforms and hot summer days are a stinky combination.
- Feel proud! All the negative feelings, frustrations and added stress can make us forget what an honorable step you are taking as a family. Your officer will be on the front lines and you will be in the home front as you dedicate your time and energy to your community. This is something to be proud of! Good luck with this, your next adventure!
About the author
Georgina Butler is a police wife and daughter from Indiana. She and her husband are trying to raise their three young boys while living the third shift life. She has also helped incorporate and is president of, a non-profit that benefits the local community that her father and husband patrol, called Behind the Badge, Inc. Georgina writes about her adventures as a boy mom, full-time working mom and as a police wife. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.