We were the last ones at the baseball field and the game had long been over. We were getting hungry and it was late. My toddler son and I had waited for supper in hopes that we could have a few minutes of time with him – the coach, our coach – only to find that the coaches were having an unplanned meeting with no time frame for ending.
Frustrated, I loaded my son into the car as he cried for his daddy, not understanding why we had to do our own thing. We drove home and had a thrown-together supper before crashing for the night. Again.
The season can be difficult. The months of prep . . . planning, scouting, organizing, practicing . . . lead into a packed season of games, meetings, more planning, extra practices, travel, and schedules that are in constant flux.
This was my first season as the wife of a college baseball coach. It was a massive adjustment from a high-school schedule. It was hard, but it was good. It taught me so much about life, my husband, our relationship, flexibility, and determination.
Here are some important things I learned in this first season of college baseball.
1. Be Flexible.
If you’ve been around athletics or coaching for even a short time, you will have realized that pretty much the only thing you can rely on is that the schedule will change. For someone like me, who is fairly routine and planning oriented, this aspect of the coaching lifestyle can be challenging. I experienced it some at the high school level, but the college level was even more intense. I spent a lot of time mad at my husband because of schedule changes that he had no control over (silly, right?). It is something I’ve had to work through with him, and learn to process better.
2. You and your husband are on the same team.
Season is crazy. It’s stressful. It involves a lot of work and time apart. It can be easy to forget that you are on the same team as your husband. This is something I struggled with a lot during this past season. Work together. Communicate. Show grace. It is something I am continually reminding myself of.
3. Talk it out.
Don’t forget to talk to your husband about what is bothering you. If you are struggling with the amount of time he is away, feel overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, anything like that, you don’t have to hold it in. It is so important to talk to him before those feelings build up and explode. Believe me, I’ve done it both ways and the explosion is far worse. Communication is essential to a healthy relationship, so no matter how much season may pull you apart, find ways to communicate with one another.
4. Bring snacks.
If you’re like me, you’ll be spending a great deal of time at the field and you won’t want to be spending a fortune on concession stand food. Add a hungry toddler (or kids in general) to the mix, and bringing snacks is a no-brainer. During the season, I have a bag I keep stocked with all sorts of snacks: nuts, trail mix, fruit strips, chips, crackers…and it is a lifesaver.
5. Be okay with imperfection.
You know what? Nobody’s life is perfect. If you realize that now, you will save yourself much anxiety, pain, and stress. During season, schedules are crazy, nights get late, and your home will most likely become a mess. As a recovering perfectionist, this is something that freaked me out . . . especially early on in the season. I’d come home late at night and see the dishes in the sink, laundry needing to be done, clean laundry (from the week before) that needed to be put away, junk piled up, and toys scattered everywhere, and I’d let it get to me. Even if the day had been perfect, I would come home to the scene I just described and let it ruin me. I’d snap at my husband and refuse to rest until everything was tidy.
Don’t be me! Learn from my mistakes. Thanks to encouragement from my husband and some other coaches’ wives, I realized that it’s okay for the house to be messy, and if I went into each day with that mindset, things turned out far better. A perfectly clean home is not what matters. When I redirected my mind to what does matter (my family, friendships, the fact that we have food, clothes and a place to live) things came into focus.
Being a coach’s family can be hard sometimes, and this first season in college coaching came with its challenges. However, I wouldn’t trade the ups, downs, and struggles for anything. Every challenge we faced taught us something and grew us as individuals, a couple, and a family. Lean into each other. Show each other grace. Keep pushing on when it gets difficult and don’t be afraid to open up. It will be okay, and no matter the moment, joy can always be found.