A Perspective Shift on Sacrifice

A Perspective Shift on Sacrifice

I used to be a quitter (and it was one of coach’s least favorite qualities of mine). When we first started dating, I had an out and tried to take it. When things got hard (or even seemed like they might be a challenge), I ran away faster than my kids rushing the field at the end of a win. I broke up with coach before the start of his third season. I had already made too many sacrifices for his career.

Because he started coaching at the school where I was still a student, I had to make a lot of changes to continue to date him. But what worried me was that he’d have to move around to progress in this career. Until then, I had lived in the same city my entire life. I wasn’t sure if I could live this life without my family and friends. All I did know was that I didn’t want to try and see if I was capable. So, for about a week, coach and I were over.

You can guess how that ended up. I got back with coach, but that didn’t stop me from clinging to my sacrifices like they were keeping me afloat. I didn’t hesitate to throw them in coach’s face when things got hard (which was almost always in the beginning). My sacrifices didn’t stop with education and moving away from my family.

But, I thought I could manage my emotions by knowing about the significant sacrifices ahead of time. However, it was actually the little ones that ate at me and eventually made me bitter and resentful- all the help with homework, dinners, bedtime, chauffeuring, managing, problem-solving, breaking up fights, handling meltdowns and tantrums, always attending functions solo while having to be present and social but also keeping my children alive and not acting like animals, etc. Death by a thousand cuts, if you will.

I also didn’t think coach could fully comprehend everything I was sacrificing for him and his dream. In my mind, while he was hanging out with his buddies playing catch, I was doing everything necessary to hold our family together.

But I have come to the understanding that everyone was making sacrifices. EVERYONE. I was making sacrifices, coach and our kids were making sacrifices, and our extended families were too. It wasn’t just me. My sacrifices were no more sacrificial than the others. And only two people made the conscious decision to live this life: me and coach.

I also had to realize that coach wasn’t trying to ignore me when he wasn’t returning my calls and texts. He wasn’t intentionally trying to put my wants and needs last. Especially in the beginning, when a coach is trying to prove his worth and make a name for himself, that’s just the nature of this lifestyle. He was working hard on the little and big things that made a program successful on and off the field. I needed to give him just as much grace as I should have been giving myself.

I have learned that sacrifice is one of the universal themes of this lifestyle, no matter the level, the title, the sport, or the location. You will need to put your ego aside. It’s not personal. Grace and patience are the keys to survival and working through the resentment that will eventually build. This was one of the hardest things to learn but the most beneficial for quality of life and relationships.

And almost 20 years later, I also have realized that my sacrifices weren’t only for coach and his career. They had all been a part of the path that God was guiding me down to teach me what I needed to learn and mold me into the best version of myself. He used the coaching lifestyle to create situations in which I usually never put myself. And instead of living a life constantly in my comfort zone, I was forced into new places with new people and given the opportunity to grow. Instead of seeing myself as a victim of the coaching lifestyle, I learned to be open to the potential it provided.

That doesn’t make the journey any easier, but it definitely helped with keeping all the sacrifices- big and little- in perspective and letting go of the resentment that could take over.



Jess Gilardi is a lacrosse coach’s wife living on the East Coast. They have three young kids and have been living this life since 2004. She was a mental health therapist in the school system before becoming the full time chaos coordinator for the family (a.k.a. stay-at-home mom). Jess started writing, hoping that by sharing her stories and lessons learned, she might help others learn “the easy way.”
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