Now that I’m a veteran wife, I get asked a lot, “What advice would you give your younger self or anyone just starting out in this lifestyle?” My response for a while was, “It will all be worth it. All the hellos, goodbyes, moves, and hard times will make you better.” But, I’ve realized that if I said that to the newbie coach’s wife I once was, she probably would have laughed in my face and never listened to my advice again.
I’ve realized the only difference between newbie and veteran coach’s wife me is the belief that we would survive whatever came our way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get easier, and things don’t become less stressful. But my confidence and resiliency have grown much stronger because of all the wild situations this life has put me through, and I’ve survived.
Year 1 (through 4) was when another coach’s wife first mistreated me. At the time, it messed with my self worth. I was treated like I was invisible. I didn’t know how I would ever survive this life if that was how someone who was supposed to be “in my corner” and understood what I was going through treated me.
But, I learned how not to treat people. And I’ve applied this lesson to everyone I meet, not only other women who might not be an official coach’s wife. I try my best to acknowledge any and everybody that crosses my path.
Year 3 of our coaching life was when I first experienced an incident where I needed coach’s immediate help and support but decided not to even bother him with it because he was on the road for an away game.
I used to be so afraid to drive around when we were new to places, and I didn’t know anyone. What if there was another incident and the only person I knew to call was too busy working? But, I’ve learned to find the right people who I could call on in times of need without judgment when coach wasn’t able to help.
Year 4 was when I experienced my first taste of reality that my husband’s job was tied to the head coach and not a contract or the school. We waited for what felt like forever to learn our fate. I didn’t think I could live through those periods of uncertainty. And I definitely didn’t think I’d bounce back after moving away from the only home I’d ever known.
Year 15 was the last time we entered into that space of uncertainty. It wasn’t fun. There was a time when simply being asked to enter my zip code at the gas pump brought me to tears. There was a stretch when the only thing I loved about my day was the fluffy rug underneath my bed because it meant I survived another twenty-four hours. But I’d started over enough to know that I could do it again.
Year 7 was when I became a mom. Coach swears the only time he’s ever missed practice was that first one back after having our son because I was too afraid to be left alone with him. I didn’t know how to be a mom, let alone one who had to figure most of it out on her own.
Year 12 was the last time I had a newborn. It was exhausting and difficult figuring out how to adjust to becoming a family of 5. And that year was one of the busiest in coach’s career still to this day. But I’d survived it two other times, so I knew I could do it again.
When I was new to the coaching life, I’d look at the veteran wives and wish I could be like them. I’d wish I could handle the frequent last-minute schedule changes and the seemingly nonstop nature of it all with grace and patience.
When we’d weather hard times together, they seemed to worry and stress a lot less than I did. I used to get caught off guard even with the smallest of changes. But after all these years, nothing surprises me anymore.
After going through multiple difficult situations that are all too common in this lifestyle, I can tell you the most helpful thing that you can do is just believe you’ll make it through.