August 14, 2016

What it’s like to be a mum AND a police officer

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.

police officer with children

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.

police officer parent

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!

Carlie xxx

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20 Comments

  • M.G says:

    Your post is so true. Im in the same position as you, I am also planning on leaving the job after having children. Its too much to juggle and too much guilt to carry. Goodluck in your new career xx

  • Debbie Jones says:

    Dear Carlie. Don’t feel guilty about leaving the police force in order to be there for your children. I’ve never done anything like that but many years ago, when my children were small, I (and I am a Christian, so I’m going into ‘crazy Christian mode here) heard from God that they were my first priority. I want to say thank you for the years that you protected and served your community. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been for you, especially as your very soft heart comes through in your writing. But thank you on behalf of all the people you helped and saved. And I will pray for you that you will be able to get over the ones you weren’t able to help and save.
    God bless you as you continue to serve. Breastfeeding can be very hard for some women. You obviously have a ‘servant’ heart and I hope you will find your role very satisfying. Enjoy xxx

  • Laura says:

    I felt every word you have written! I could have written myself! So honest and so true. Well done for sticking it out as long as you did. Since having my little ones, doing the job is a constant battle. Guilt about not being with my own children and husband and guilt over the kids I see in the job who are destroyed and damaged by the people who are supposed to love and care for them, guilty because I can’t wave a magic wand and “save” them despite everything I do try and do for them. I wonder how much longer I can continue in this role before I finally admit that in order to do what’s right for me and my family I must leave, like you and go and do good in another role. The very best of luck lovely lady, it seems your kids are blessed with a wonderful mummy x

  • Donna Sim says:

    What an honest and sobering post .

  • Linda says:

    Married to a retired who served 30 years I know the pressures the police face day to day. My son joined only to serve 15 years and realise it wasn’t the life for him. That’s it you see it becomes a way of life, not just a job. My daughter in law joined up and after having her second child I only wish she could find a different career. She is due to go back to work soon and I worry for her safety, how she will manage a juggling act of work, school for Dylan and child care for Harry. Obviously we will all do our bit but shift work for a mum of two small children is not ideal. I look forward to the day when she announces she’s got a different job, somewhere she’s in a safe environment not facing drunks, druggies and violence on a day to day basis.

  • Penny says:

    Carlie, congratulations on taking the big step and putting your beautiful family first.
    I know exactly how you felt as I was a bobby for 20 years. The last 4 years of service I started my own business for exactly the same reason you left. Its so hard juggling work and being a mother. But there is life after “the job” I’m passionate about helping others realise the same. I’ll be celebrating my 6th anniversary of being there for my girls. At the moment as one of them has been diagnosed with a life changing condition. All the running backwards and forward to hospital appointments would have been a nightmare . All that begging for time off, worrying about your hours up etc. Now I can concentrate 100% on helping my daughter through the difficult times ahead. PRICELESS!
    All the best for the future.

  • Nicola says:

    I’m currently on maternity leave with my second child and this really resonates with me. After 13 years I really feel like I’ve come to the end of this career. I just can’t imagine how I’m going to juggle it with two kids. I don’t think I’m brave enough to make the break yet though. Well done to you for finding a new path in life.

  • Diane says:

    I had 4 children and did 30 years as a police officer. I had a wonderful Mother In Law who worked my shifts looking after my kids. I missed so much of them growing up and if I could turn the clock back. I’d have done things differently. The job I loved didn’t give too hoots when I left, my kids on the other hand, cried nearly every day! I salute all working police mothers. but trust me when I say , sadly the police force don’t care about us, our children do x

  • Carolcamm says:

    I’m the proud grandmother of a policewoman and found your account of a job you obviously loved very moving ,,and totally scary both at the same time,,the police force needs people like you and my granddaughter to make the difference,,that a lot of the general public take for granted ,,the thin blue line is richer for your commitment ,,sorry we’ve lost another great officer ,, best wishes x

  • Mickey-blue says:

    Lovely piece Carlie.
    I left in may last year. I’m male and my outlook changed completely once my wife had our son.
    I didn’t fully appreciate the worry my wife felt every time I went to work.
    Around 12 months after my son was born I was assaulted and subsequently had to undergo 6 months of tests and treatment. This brought home how fragile I was and how the simplest of things can impact on my young family. I was worried (unnecessarily) about my wife and son and potentially passing anything on to them, this crushed me and caused even more stress. It was the beginning of the end only compounded by the way I was treated by the force and CPS in the aftermath.
    Now I’m ‘out’ I’m happier and closer to my little family than ever.
    I still have so much respect for the colleagues I’ve left behind, especially those able to carpentmentalise the work family balance. On the plus side my son is acutely aware of the hero’s in stab vests and what a challenging and thankless job they do!

  • donna says:

    Hi, I did the same…I was a bobby for 15years and quit last year! Children and the job don’t go together, it doesn’t cater for Mums. I have no regrets at all about leaving! Yes, I miss the pay, however I would rather see my children and family!

  • Laura p says:

    Your article is so insightful and stuck a cord with me. I have just quit being a PC after trying to get in for a number of years for similar reasons above albeit I don’t have children yet I couldn’t forsee ever being in this position. Respect to you enjoy your new career I wish you well x

  • Lynn says:

    Thank you for this. I was in your position however my oldest child was 14 when I fell pregnant with my middle child. I fought with myself to go on shift every day/night fearing that something would happen to me and I would never see my children again. I managed to stay on protected duties for a short time which helped my worries. At this time I couldn’t afford to leave the job. 2 years later I fell pregnant with my youngest daughter and I promised I would never put myself through what I had gone through with my middle child. As soon as I found out I was expecting I handed my notice in. It was such a relief. I missed a lot of my colleagues but not the ones you mentioned. I don’t look back with any regrets and appreciate my time as an officer as it taught me many things. Whilst on protected duties I worked in family protection unit and didn’t realise the amount of children who were taken into care. I am now 7 years away from the job and a full time foster Carer. I get to take my children to school every day and tuck them into bed every night. I never miss any shows, parties or any other activities they have on. I am very luck to be in the position I am x

  • Emma S says:

    Wow. So true. It really does hit home. I have often thought about leaving to be at home more with my son, but I do not know how I would pay the bills. My husband is a firefighter on shift,, we are passing ships! I often worry that this will have a negative impact on our son…..
    No one, other than parents working in emergency services will ever understand. (No offence to those not in emergency services).
    Good luck in your new career.😊

  • Grant Holman says:

    I juggle being a parent to two girls and an officer I know I hug them a little tighter after some shifts and definetely before I go out for a shift. Never leave on an angry word and hope I get back in time for those few stolen hours in the evening before they go to bed. Some days quality time is just a bed time story curled up with them in before they go to sleep

  • M says:

    Brilliant article! I served 12 years and left to start my family. Now Mum to a crazy 13 month old I’m sure locking up the bad guys was easier ha ha but I wouldn’t change it for the world and loved the service I did have (albeit it does have its moments) I still have the upmost respect for all public servants and especially those mums still working hard and raising their families. Xx

  • Gina says:

    How well written. Brought tears to my eyes.

  • Jenny says:

    Hi carlie,
    This was very similar to my story. I returned to the job after maternity leave. I was expected to pick up where i left off as if nothing had changed when in fact everything had. I worked for 3 years just struggling through every day dealing with other peoples lives and keeping them as safe as i could with every risk assesent or safety plan i wrote.
    I was so stressed and tired my gp finally diagnosed depression and anxiety, i was so busy trying to sort out other peoples lives mine was falling apart, me and my family were suffering. I was prescibes anti depressants but knew that the only way id really get better was if i left. It was the right decision and ive no regrets eveyone is much happier and healthier at home. Being an officer was just no longer the job for me.

  • Maureen says:

    Charlie, you made me cry. I haven’t been a policewoman and I haven’t faced the dangers you faced. But I am a single( divorced) Mum and my two sons were very young. They had to be on their own a lot and I know I was very very lucky that they responded to the responsibility I laid on them. My job was a day job in local government and I did everything I could to ensure their safety and possible need for any daytime hour they were on their own and they had access to me by phone, and I called them regularly.
    They are drown men now and treat me in a way that people are envious of and do great things for me and with me. I cannot believe how fortunate I am. I know I put them first in everything but I also know they had to take responsibility at a very young age.
    I am 70 now. I STILL feel guilty, cry when I am given attention by one of them( after they have gone) because I still feel guilty.
    Although you made me cry, because I could understand how you feel about the falling asleep, I want you to know something.
    YOU NEVER DID ANYTHING WRONG. your children will be the first to assure you of that because you show them such love and are nurturing their values.
    I feel qualified to assure you of this, and expect you to believe it. I am qualified because I feel guilt for my failures and what I feel I caused my sons to miss out on or that they had to face. And qualified because my very grown up sons show me love and respect as their mum, seek my advice, and treat me with the humour and empathy they do with their friends. They KNOW I still put them first. Your children will help the guilt for the past ( which is only you laying it on yourself) to soften. It creeps up in your quit moments and I’d like to put my arms around you.
    I also know the struggle you had leaving a job you love, and that you knew you were exactly the sort of police person the public wants, because of your children.
    My son is a policeman

  • Jo says:

    A very honest post, Carlie. I did 12 years and left soon after having my second child. It’s such an unpredictable job in terms of hours, and I didn’t want to be away from the children for loads of weekends. That was a few years ago and I don’t regret my decision. My job now is a lot safer. Glad you’ve found something you enjoy to move onto. Thanks for your post – very thought provoking.

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