I have mentioned in a few previous posts the fact I used to be a police officer and only very recently quit to become a booby nurse (breastfeeding support worker for the NHS) having roamed the streets looking for bad boys in a non-prostitute type of way for 8 years.
Life generally as a police officer is full of crazy highs and dark lows, happy days and sad days funny moments and sobering experiences, but add the fact you have your own little cherubs sitting at home, completely unaware of the danger you’re facing, and suddenly everything seems very…different.
Pre children I attended a few cot deaths, which were harrowing and soul destroying, however I learnt to cope with the horrific images. Since having children those memories have bubbled up to the forefront of my mind, creeping into my dreams at night or as I watch my children sleep, listening out for their breath. Post children, I have dealt with child abuse, neglect and down right parenting failures that left me dazed, confused and suffering physical chest pain, causing me to come home feeling like an empty shell.
I had my son and returned back to the police when he was 1 for three years until I fell pregnant with my daughter. Whilst on maternity leaving having given birth to her, I couldn’t face the prospect of returning to the streets again.
How could I kiss my innocent children goodbye and within one hour have someone threatening me with a knife?
Not only that, but I had missed special moments of my son’s life I would never ever get back and I didn’t intend to do that to my daughter too. I would promise to see him after work, to cook him a lovely meal and then read him a bedtime story, only to have a drunk lunatic throw a chair at my head, causing me to get home at 11pm instead of 5pm.
And the worse thing I ever did? I got home from a night shift at 7.30am to then have to look after my son all day (no money for childcare) and I fell asleep on the sofa, leaving him free to roam the downstairs of our house of his own accord. Nothing happened to him (I’m lucky he is such a good boy) but I cried and I punished myself for months.
On another occasion I drove home from work on a sunny weekday afternoon and picked my son up from childcare on the way. Whilst cruising down the motorway I had a few nodding dog moments and so decided to come off a junction early. As I reached the outskirts of the town I live in I hit traffic and was slowly creeping along when I fell asleep, waking only when I had crashed into the car in front. My son was hysterical, the police came, the ambulance came (the lady in front claimed whip lash) and once again I was a sobbing wreck, hating my crap exhausting job.
But, thank god I hadn’t fallen asleep on the motorway. The result of that makes me feel sick to even imagine.
So, with a four year old boy and a teeny tiny girl there was no way I was going to continue putting my life, and theirs, at risk for a job. Because that is all it is, a stupid bill paying job, for which no one ever says thank you.
Having children at home whilst I did a difficult and dangerous job put everything into perspective. As I stood in the middle of screaming families, watching the faces of their confused and terrified children gazing between angry parents my heart would break in two. Even more gut wrenching were the children who had no reaction to the violent feuds that went on around them, but who sat on my lap taking quiet interest in my can of CS Spray because their own toys were dirty and broken, if they had any.
Turning my back on the job makes me feel guilty, I personally feel the police forces of this country need more officers like me. Compassionate, caring coppers that talk to people instead of bellow obnoxious demands and believe they should receive a level of respect they’d never show the public themselves. Because those type of knob head coppers do exist, we all know that. But not all of them are like that. That is something the public needs to realise. The last boy or girl in blue they spoke to might have been a self righteous pig (excuse the pun), but the next one might not be. The next one might be talking to you, but musing about their daughter’s birthday that they are missing. And although the broken fence panel you just dialled 999 about is the worst thing that’s happened to you, the police officer you’re screaming at might have just left the home of an abused baby, or cut down the body of a depressed mother from the shower rail as her toddler sat playing in the next room.
Being a police officer when you have children changes everything. Absolutely everything. You never look at people the same way, you never look at children the same way, you never deal with jobs the same way. There is a shift in the universe, your perspective reforms, your priorities reorganise. Your emotions deepen. And to those officers, male and female, who continue dedicating their lives to a difficult and undervalued job whilst their children sit waiting for them at home, I want to say a huge thank you, I will always have your back, to the day I die. And so will my children. Because I will tell them that the real live heroes in this world wear body armour, use handcuffs and carry lots and lots of pens.
We salute you!