Our new normal: life as a POLICE family

Happy Friday! Yesterday was a big day in the Keinsley household, between finding out that we are expecting a little baby girl and also getting the call that Matt is officially hired as a police officer and starts on Monday! What a whirlwind. Today I am staying in pajamas, sipping hot coffee, ignoring the mess in literally every room of our house, and just letting all these blessings sink down deep into my soul.

I wanted to share a bit more about this big transition we're about to go through, and answer some questions we've been getting!

But first, some backstory.

Matt and I began dating in college - the summer before my junior year, his sophomore year. I knew that he had wanted to join the military, but when he tried to join his senior year of high school, he discovered that he had a heart murmur that kept him out of military service. His heart murmur is totally minor, he takes no medicine or anything, and it doesn't affect his life in any way. He's cleared for all physical activity, but the military said no. Over the next couple years, he tried to get a medical waiver to still enlist, but it didn't happen. It was a huge disappointment to Matt, who dreamed of serving as a soldier. Since the military was off the table, he switched direction and decided being a police officer was his next goal. Starting in February of 2013, his senior year of college, he began applying to police departments. We were engaged at the time, a few months out from our wedding. He made it really far in the process for a local department and we thought for sure he would get hired. We decided to get our first apartment here in the county where we grew up, sure that he would get the sheriff job and that we'd need to live in-county. And then, he didn't. We got married, and he continued to apply to lots of departments (all local, as we weren't interested in moving at the time) and continued to get turned down. It was a hard season, because we were also in a season of transition. He had an EMS job that he didn't hate but wasn't a career-type job, he was commuting over an hour to get there and also working a part-time job on the side, we were living in an apartment and starting to think about buying a house, but couldn't really act because so many police departments have living requirements if you get hired, such as living within city or county limits. Everything felt frustrating. If only he would get hired and we could start planning!

But, God. He always knows best, doesn't He?

He made it really far in the process for our state police, but didn't get hired. After that, he decided to take a break and re-evaluate. Police department hiring processes are long, drawn-out, tiresome and include long periods of waiting with absolutely no news, then getting a phone call or email that you need to be ready for an interview or testing the very next week. It was exhausting. We also needed to make some decisions - were we going to move, or stay in the apartment? If we bought a house, that would limit our options for where he could apply if we didn't want to move again within the next few years. We needed time for him to really decide what he wanted.

We did decide to buy a house in the fall of 2014 because we loved the area, and were ready to plant some roots. Where we bought would allow him to apply at all the local departments, and we were just ready to stop waiting on this elusive "dream job" to start our life and family.

He didn't apply to a single department in 2015, and it was just what we needed. In January of 2015, he was hired to be an EMS provider here in Indianapolis and worked day shift on an ambulance that was only 45 minutes away, instead of 90. And, he was home every night! It was awesome. He graduated from paramedic class. He took a new position within the company and became an EMS educator, teaching EMT and paramedic classes, working a normal and very flexible 9-5, Monday-Friday schedule. We got pregnant and welcomed Xavier. 2015 and 2016 were such sweet years as we fell into rhythm as a family.

But I knew that Matt's desire to be a police officer never wavered. He truly enjoyed his job as an EMS educator, liked his co-workers and there were always opportunities to pick up overtime working on ambulances, which was great for our budget. He earned lots of vacation time and his schedule was flexible if I needed him to come with me to an appointment or watch Xavier. We've definitely been spoiled. But in early summer 2016, I read a book called 168 Hours that really shifted my perspective on time. I was talking to Matt about it and telling him how our time is so precious and we shouldn't waste it. There is a part of the book about your job and how if you don't love, you should change it. Somehow that turned into a conversation about law enforcement and how if he was still as passionate as he'd always been, it was time to get back on the horse and start applying. It turns out that applications for a local department were open, so he submitted his application that same week.

This process was different from past ones. First of all, he only applied to this one department. After lots of conversations, we'd narrowed it down from applying anywhere and everywhere he could, to being choosy with where he applied. Things were different in our life in this season, and we didn't feel a frantic need to get ANY police job that came our way. He had a good job, a career job that he liked. We had a house and were settled. Our hands were open this time. If he got the job, great. But if not, oh well. Nothing was riding on it. We also didn't tell anyone, not even our families. Like I said, hiring processes are SO long, and it got really tiresome to be telling our (wonderful and very well-meaning) friends and families that no, there was no news, no, we didn't know anything. We didn't tell anyone until around Halloween, when Matt moved to the background check stage and information packets had to be sent to references.

Things moved pretty quickly from November to now, and the final step was completed yesterday. Today is his last day at Indianapolis EMS, and he starts his new job on Monday. It still feels surreal.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

For the next six weeks, he will have training at the department Monday-Friday from 8-4. Things won't change much for us, because he'll be keeping the same basic schedule that he's had for the last year and a half.

WHAT ABOUT THE ACADEMY?

On March 6th, he starts the police academy. The police academy is 16 weeks long, and he lives there Monday-Thursday for most of it, and Monday-Friday for a few weeks. He will come home on the weekends, but I'll be single mom-ing it all week for about four months.

WHEN IS THE BABY DUE?

Matt's police academy graduation is June 19th...and the baby is due on June 13th, or possibly before based on yesterday's ultrasound. But I just can't worry about that right now. Military families do this all the time, and we are blessed to have an INCREDIBLE village supporting us who I know will show up in huge ways when the baby comes. And, the academy is not like the military. If Matt happens to be there when I go into labor, they'll let him leave. We aren't sure how long he'll get to leave for, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. And I'm praying pretty hard that I go late ;)

AREN'T YOU SCARED?

Of course I'm scared. If I had it my way, my whole family would all stay together under one roof all day every day, safe from the world and cocooned in our little bubble. But, that is not really living, is it? We're well aware of the dangers police officers face, which feel more intense now than ever. But we're so lucky that he was hired at a department where officers are really valued and appreciated by the community they serve. There's not a lot of violent crime here. And, everything under the sun is dangerous. Matt's commute every day to the west side of Indy is dangerous. I'm learning more and more that you just can't live in fear. When God calls you to something, and I truly believe He has called not just Matt, but our entire family to this police life, He will not abandon you. No matter what our future holds, God will be there right by our side, and that gives me more peace and comfort than I can express.

So, that's the story! We are excited, we are overwhelmed, we are nervous about getting through the academy and the ensuing field training while also welcoming a new baby at the same time. But, we're going to make it, and I know when we look back on this season, we'll be able to see how all the straight up CRAZY brought us closer together as a family. At least, that's my prayer. That the next several months of being apart and this transition won't divide us, but rather unite us closer together. I'd love to hear from any law enforcement wives out there - particularly those whose husbands went through the academy after you were married and especially after you had kids. I know a huge part of our success will be finding community and asking people who've walked this road before us for advice and encouragement. Thanks for reading, and happy Friday! XO!