But nothing and I mean nothing, would get my goat like that handsome, brown-eyed man pointing his finger at me, raising his voice to that disappointed, irritated coach tone and speak condescendingly to me like I just ran the wrong route even after we drilled and drilled it in practice.
Yes, we step into that space and remind our men of the kids who do listen … of the kids who become adults and still reach out … of the kids who needed a surrogate father … of the kids who played out of their shoes … of the kids who just need one caring adult and our men stepped into the space, the space between winning and losing—and that made all the difference.
I have loved him through the perfect, undefeated, state championship seasons, the heartbreak of great competitive losses, and the fickleness of high school athletics. After years of learning how to accept that he’s perfectly alright with doing NOTHING for literally H O U R S at a time except watching game after game, he began more than one morning of this holiday break with something like, “Babe, which of your projects would you like me to help you with today?”
Being a coach’s wife is rarely ever fair ladies, in the trenches of any season, in the midst of early childhood years when every need relies on you, or even if it’s only you and your man—it is rarely fair. Nevertheless, every good football coach will tell you to never leave the game in the hand of the ref—don’t count on fair.
I looked up from my phone as the car made one last slow turn to find myself at Fredericksburg High School’s football stadium. It’s the third stadium we have seen on this trip having turned off the highway twice to “check out the facilities.” Romance, ladies, with a capital R.
Heading east on I-40, somewhere between Shawnee and Checotah, the man to whom I had given my heart and my word—“where you go, I will go”— reached across the front seat of our blue 1991 Pontiac Sunbird, placed his hand on my thigh, and uttered these words, “Thanks, Babe. People get divorced over stuff like this. I should have talked to you first. I love you.”
Then in another ten years from now, one or two of them will send us a wedding invite or a social media request, and we will know that the old adage is true—children really do spell love with the letters.....T I M E.