In the distance, they begin to hear the quiet roar of his Tahoe rolling over the gravel. Within moments they can feel the pound of his leather boots walking up the steps to our house. The creak of the front door is quickly followed by the crackling of Velcro as he takes off his belt and it lands on the table with a thump.
These are the sounds that tell my children that their daddy is finally home; these are the sounds of relief.
My husband became a law enforcement officer before our children were born. As our children grew, they learned that their daddy took an oath to protect and serve the citizens of our great state. Their daddy is not only their protector, but everyone else’s too.
Loving a parent who wears blue is both a blessing and a curse. These children learn crucial life lessons at a young and tender age. The pride they have in their parent exudes with every breath they take, however hidden behind their strong face is a prayerful heart that their mom or dad returns to them after every shift.
SERVICE TO OTHERS. Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) children watch with wide eyes as their father suits up before his shift, shining his buttons and boots, to go out and make the world a safer place. They see his desire to protect not only their little lives, but also the lives of everyone. They learn the importance of serving others, especially in troubled times. They learn to love their community and learn selflessness. They also learn about courage; courage to be a defender and a peacekeeper for the masses.
SACRIFICE. LEO children learn the honorable attribute of sacrifice earlier than most. They see their mother give everything she’s got to her job. She sacrifices herself every time she answers a call. She sacrifices her time with her family so that she can ensure another family is safe and sound. With every LEO kid’s prayer a plea is lifted up asking that their momma doesn’t give the ultimate sacrifice: her life.
EVIL. LEO children are exposed to evils of this world sadly displayed through their father’s vocation. How do you explain to your 4-year-old who views policeman as heroes that some people call his dad a pig? How do you explain that there are people in this world who willingly lead a life of crime, hate and anger? How do you explain that some people want to hurt their daddy all because he walks a thin blue line? How do you explain to a child that their daddy won’t be coming home?
LIFE IS FRAGILE. LEO children hear the heartfelt conversations between their parents about his long day at work. They hear the worry in their mother’s cry as daddy quickly hangs up without an explanation. They hear their father’s voice crack as he explains the reason he was late to their ball game was because he had to work a crash … then overhear that the crash had a fatality. They hear the news anchor report a police officer was shot and killed in cold blood — another harsh reminder of the life he leads. They hear their mom explain why they must kiss and hug their dad before his shift, every single time.
SO MUCH GOOD. LEO children experience a life that displays the overwhelming good in this world too. They see their mother’s smile as she tells a story about helping a stranded motorist and how he thanked her. They see the fundraisers conducted by fellow police officers to help terminally ill children. They see the rock solid relationships formed by LEO families. They see communities come together in times of tragedy ensuring that their mother and her brothers and sisters in blue know they are appreciated. They see the good that is displayed in every act of kindness performed by their mom that almost always goes unnoticed.
The life of a law enforcement child is filled with love, uncertainty, and prayer.
In times of crisis their dedicated parent marches into the danger zone, ready and willing to protect perfect strangers. They endure numerous holidays with an empty chair at the head of the table. They sacrifice precious time with their mom or dad so that our world can be a little safer. And they do these things willingly.
The law enforcement officer’s children are always there, always watching, always listening, always praying.
Let us never forget that standing quietly behind the man or woman wearing the badge is a child, a child who loves that officer more than anything and is depending upon their safe arrival back home. And if their parent doesn’t make it home let us always remember these children in our hearts and prayers, for their life is forever changed.
Today and always, we honor Baton Rouge’s finest that gave their lives on Sunday July 17, 2016 – Corporal Montrell Jackson, Officer Matthew Gerald, and Deputy Brad Garafola, their wives and the seven children they leave behind. Thank you for your service to this city and God bless.
*This post originally appeared on Red Stick Moms Blog.*