I've had the honor to attend many police retirements and ensuing retirement parties, and I've rarely ever heard someone say they wish they'd spent more time at work. I keep hearing that they wish they had spent more time with family, friends and that life and time slipped way from them. Sad to say that it's true, so let's get younger readers started off on the right foot.
I'd compare your life foundation to a table with four legs holding it steady. What are the four legs? Family, faith, friends and vocation. Let's explore them to help you achieve balance.
We've all heard stories about police marriages and divorce. Yes, we're still in the top. I'm not going to speak about this as much as the kids. Due to shift work, assignments and call-outs, the kids and family experience will suffer. One day you're a father, and the next day your lad leaves for the military in a flash. How many parenting moments such as ball games, recitals and fishing trips did you miss?
Try to make what you can and make time when you can. The family experience of holidays and vacations are something else to address. Holiday events are tough to work into the shift schedule. When you do come in and want breakfast, turkey will be just fine if it means you're present with loved ones. For some, this extra effort is a cinch and for others we've had to struggle to make it. The long-term rewards are worth the effort.
Face it, we all have to believe in something. It help us stay motivated and retain inner peace during tough times. I won't try to convince you that one religion is better than the other. The one you select that's good for you is fine with me. It will often be your adhesive when the world is falling apart.
They should include cop friends and non-cop friends; you require both for balance. I've always said that some of my cop friends are my brothers and sisters from different mothers. I was an only child and never had any siblings to grow up with who tormented me. I'm blessed to have cop friends.
Some know my inner-most secrets and have been there in the toughest of times. I could not have made it without them and they would say the same about me. Non-cop friends are great too, sometimes you need to play a round of golf with a group who don't care that you're cop. It is good sometimes to get away from the work, and take the uniform off.
It's all about the job, right? No. Without the other three legs, this one wouldn't mean as much. This may be called "the job," but it's more of a vocation or calling. I've never had to go to work; it's still fun to me and everyday is different. I live to work rather than working to live.
Remember this balance. It's not the years that wear us down but rather the mileage. It's my hope that this may save a kid's ballgame, keep you strong in the worst of times and make you a happier warrior along the way.