He knew two days ago, but he didn’t want to say in case it didn’t turn out. Insider information.
It had to be on paper, in writing, concrete. I called him a stinker for not telling me, but I’m glad he didn’t. I couldn’t have handled the possibility of a dream versus a dream deferred, and he knew that.
All this sounds very dramatic, and it might very well be melodramatic, and you could be let down when you hear what you might consider to be just average or possibly slightly pleasant news, but for us it changes everything: Noah has been assigned a permanent day shift.
Oh, you say to yourself, that’s good…right?
The answer, after digesting this information for a whole day, is unequivocally, Yes, that is very good.
Since the chief announced that beginning January 5 all patrol officers would be assigned new permanent shifts, instead of the five-shift rotation, we tried to look at the bright side for each of the three possibilities (day, evening, and midnight). Since Noah lacks seniority, he could have been assigned to any of them, regardless of his preference.
We were so excruciatingly upbeat, in fact, that we no longer knew what our preference actually was. We were drifting in a mildly tumultuous sea of what ifs, if this then thats, but maybes, and if onlys. We just wanted someone to tell us his assignment, so we could stop being so indiscriminately, confusingly optimistic and start finding all the negatives for those shifts he didn’t get assigned. Because to be perfectly frank, being a police officer’s spouse throws you into an ongoing game of It Could Be Worse or, alternatively, This Is the Worst So It Can Only Get Better From Here.
His first choice was always day shift: It would be the closest thing to normal you can get as a patrol officer. We rationalized that an evening shift would save us money and boost daddy-baby bonding (Ethan wouldn’t have to be in daycare), and a midnight shift, well at least we’d all be together for a few hours each night before Noah had to leave. We always ignored the fact that anything other than a day shift would drastically diminish the time we got together, the two of us.
Every time we got ourselves psyched up for a particular shift, Noah would be convinced there was no way he’d get it. Eventually I had to remind him that he would certainly be getting one of them.
I have to commend Noah for his secret-keeping ability on this issue, a short two days though it was. He’s terrible about keeping secrets. Not because he tells them, but because he gets progressively more agitated as the time he’s required to maintain confidentiality increases. But in this scenario, we were both already on edge, so I couldn’t tell the difference.
It took a few hours for the implications to sink in, since for months now we've been batting around all the possibilities. Here's just a short summary of how this will change things for us:
No more evenings and nights alone, trying to juggle a baby and dinner and laundry and the animals and feeling tired from working all day and getting the baby bathed and fed and ready for bed and then climbing into bed with nobody to snuggle, nobody to vent to, no warmth (other than the GIANT dog at my feet), and no possibility of help if the baby wakes up; no more ships-passing syndrome (that is, waving at each other as our cars pass on the highway, me going home and him heading out, our only physical interaction of the day); no more postponed or canceled date nights (at least not because of work); no more going days on end without sharing a meal or an actual conversation; no more going to family functions alone, just me and baby.
We'll be back to a system of sharing the burdens of the house and family rather than one or the other of us doing everything without help.
I certainly feel for those whose schedules didn't work out in the best-case scenario. And I'm fully aware that there are a lot of people out there who actually do have it worse than we ever did, namely single parents and military families. So I'll show gratitude and empathy the only way I can: I won't complain when he has to work on the weekend or on holidays (he'll actually be working Thanksgiving and Christmas again in 2009). And I'll count myself lucky.