- Lauren Schnotala and Kara Raimondi
The Family Line
At this very moment, as you read this...a siren is sounding. First responders are running to the emergency, without hesitation. These real-life superheroes are fearless and relentless, stopping at nothing to make sure you and your family are safe. October 28th is National First Responders Day and HH wanted to celebrate with a shoutout and THANK YOU! Somewhere between the blue line and the red line lies the FAMILY LINE. We are beyond grateful to the two AMAZING mothers for sharing their journeys below.
X0 - Katie and Amanda
To all mothers out there, you are all amazing, strong, and beautiful women. I, myself, am a CPD police officer, first responder, and mother to a three and a half-year-old preschooler named Lucille. We’ve all achieved the same miraculous feat. We created life and that’s pretty incredible if you ask me! Being a police officer and a mom is quite the balancing act. I’ve had to learn to adjust to a new lifestyle, and one that will constantly be readjusting. The summer is a difficult time of the year for a police officer, something I’ve known my entire life. I’m still a “rookie” as they say with only 2 years on the job, but feels like much longer since my dad was a Chicago police officer as well. The limited days you do have off are subject to being cancelled and turned into a 12 hour shift, sometimes just in an hour’s notice. The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is very true. At times like these, I sometimes have to scramble to figure out who can watch her. What’s going on for dinner? How’s the necessary laundry going to get done? Who will take care of the pets? We’re fortunate enough to have my retired mom (Nonna) to rely on for help whenever needed. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s the best and always willing to help out.
Lucille doesn’t fully understand the concept of time just yet, but says to me from time to time “You’re working again?!” So when the guilt of so many hours hits, especially at times with no days off, I pull what we call a “Lucille Day.” A Lucille Day is when we do whatever she wants, just the two of us, even if it’s a school day. My dad would do it for my brother and I when he too had been working a lot more than usual. It worries me that she will have life events and memories where I’m not there, so these Lucille days are special to me. I can still remember all the “Lauren Days” and how special it made me feel and it helps to relieve some of the guilt. Some days are easier than others, but some days our house looks like a tornado ran through it. That’s life with a toddler and that’s why we have doors. Sometimes you just have to close the door, walk away from a mess, and accept that you aren’t going to get done everything you’d like to get done; but you at least make it a point to focus on what needs to get done.
As a police officer, one day you can be working afternoons and the next you’re working the graveyard shift. You can be working at one district and then find out you’re being transferred to a different district on the complete other side of the city. This is just a glimpse of the hectic lifestyle of being a mom and a first responder. I can’t lie though and say I don’t enjoy these aspects of the job as well. Everyday is something new in this career and no two days are alike. I get the privilege to help people and possibly make a difference in someone’s life. I’m a people person at heart and have always enjoyed helping others. There is nothing that makes me feel better about being an officer than when Lucille sees a police car and yells “Look, look it’s an officer car just like my mommy!” She’s so proud of me and I love it! I always give her a big bear hug and kiss and promise to come home. My number one goal is to always come home to my family.
I want to thank Hiccups and Heels for asking me to be a part of this. I greatly appreciate the opportunity and hope you enjoyed reading.
"To all the women in blue and all first responders – Stay Safe!"
Chicago Police Officer - Lauren Schnotala
If you love having crippling anxiety, intermittent periods of loneliness, and fear of watching the news; than being a first responder wife is definitely for you. Also- the uniform helps.
We truly are grateful to have our parents always be a phone call away to help in any way we need. My Mom even does laundry which is a huge plus :D.
I am married to a firefighter/paramedic and my brother is a law enforcement officer. My husband and I have a wild, crazy, beautiful brand new 3-year-old. It is nearly impossible to get them both at a family party which is one of the biggest issues of being a first responder family.
Unpredictability. I have to plan everything around a shift color and every third day of my life. Which at the end of the day means “you can plan a pretty picnic but definitely can not plan the weather.” For instance, I planned my husband’s surprise 30th, two months after his actual birthday- due to full schedules, and he still got forced to work the following 24 hours. Through the huge hearts of his second family we did inevitably get the coverage. The basis of this is that you never know when a normal 24 hour shift can turn into a 48 or 96. So planning anything; even on his days off become unpredictable.
Loneliness. I am a full time real estate paralegal and have been for about a decade. I love my job and its super high demand as is every single aspect of my life which means sometimes I just freeze and can not even believe how my day is going. Not to mention a toddler asking me every few hours “when is Daddy coming home?”. Usually my house is like Grand Central Station and no one has an indoor voice including the dog – but when the quiet hits after bedtime on shift; it’s like dead of winter quiet. Before Covid it was literally a kiss goodbye as he walked in around 8:15a and I had to be at the office by 9a – not even time for a cup of coffee. Now that I am remote we at least get that 45 minutes to decompress before the closings start.
Fear. A normal shift usually consists of drills, car wrecks, small fires and medical calls. When he does get toned out to a “big fire” I always get the text, “Got a fire, I love you.” Que paralyzing anxiety, so many prayers, trying to find the fire on a fireground page to see what is happening and if it has been contained. Then you have to shake it because you’re bearing all the home responsibilities alone for 24 hours and there is a lot of shit to do especially with a toddler. The fear and realization really hit your heart when you watch a 9/11 documentary and recognize the man you love. I know he would be running in and saying “Yes we know we are not coming back out but we are with you Chief”, and proceed to run up those stairs. Also, when his crew has to put on bullet proof vests and practice active shooter drills at local schools. There is also the long-term concerns; carcinogenicity of night shift work. Fireman go from a resting heart rate to 140/150 before even getting dressed when the alarm sounds. The stress, weight of gear, toxic exposure, irregular sleep patterns and lack of quality of sleep all contribute to long terms effects of cardiovascular issues, cancers, and asthma.
Pride. I LOVE seeing him beam over bringing someone back to life or keeping a victim calm while being cut out of car and giving medical attention. He could never do a different job and although it does not define him it is a huge part of who he is and the live we live. He could never do a 9-5 and is humble as can be “you put the wet stuff on the hot stuff.” People always think fire careers are easy – but for me I cannot imagine doing what a nurse does in a small box going 60 miles per hour or running into a burning home with zero visibility and absolutely no knowledge of what or who is inside. The extensive medical and fire training they do daily is crucial when the call arrives and they need to use their skillsets. Police and Fire are the bravest, most self-less, quick thinking, lifesaving bad asses in the world – even when the media’s irresponsibility is maliciously spewing otherwise. They show up on everyone’s worst day and do it day after day. That takes not only physical strength but mental as well. There are the tough calls – you cannot save everyone- and also the trauma of seeing loved ones in pain. Although they leave the call and use dark humor to move on with the shift as it is not long until the next emergency rolls in, all of them have the calls that stick.
Family. First responder families tend to stick together as it is hard to understand the frustrations, fear, loneliness and anxiety unless you live it day in and out. Especially when every media outlet is dragging them through the mud and making them out to be monsters which could not be the farthest thing from the truth. I think at the end of the day after facing so much anxiety, loneliness, unpredictability and fear- we tend to really appreciate life, every day, especially the ordinary mundane ones of just being together having fun in our home.
One last thing…. Epstein did not kill himself!