Our family motto is: Protect the unit at all costs.
This means, above everything else (of course, after God), we ensure our spirits, mental health, and bonds remain stimulated and strong. To us, this ensures our home life is vibrant and fulfilling, which then allows us to face the world as confident and balanced people.
More importantly, however, over the years as a unit, we've built a system where we can tackle any issues internally or externally together.
So, a few years back, after leaving the football coaching world to accept the Athletic Director position, my husband was given one piece of advice by his former supervisor: Not to let this job consume him because, at some point, he was bound to encounter his greatest challenge- parents.
I distinctly remember thinking, "But surely my husband is the exception…everyone in our small town knows him, and what a fantastic and fitting person to now oversee all programs."
I was wrong. Very. Terribly. Wrong.
You see, last school year as a family, we went through what my therapist would call character-building moments.
My husband and some school admin were the target of a social media smear campaign rallied by a few local sports parents.
It included polls and calls to fire, replace, and restructure positions. One of their (many) claims was that the high school admin and staff simply created their own rules and regulations and purposefully ignored what all public schooling systems must oblige to: local, state, and national mandated laws.
I mean, hey, I get that it's been years since many of these parents attended government and political science classes. Still, the lack of basic comprehension and knowledge was rather quite…alarming.
So, as the first wave of social posts started rolling out, of course, our immediate response was wanting to defend ourselves. But as one in a public educational position knows, you simply can't.
While family photos were posted (thanks for at least cropping my head off?) with descriptions of what the "P.O.S Athletic Director" is allegedly doing/not doing, my husband and I were staying busy behind the scenes and focused on what we do best- protecting the unit.
So, together, we changed our perspective.
At this point in time, the posts almost became a daily thing, and to get our family through, we looked for the funny parts of the situation.
I'd joke to my husband, "I better step up my game posting about you…these women are giving me major competition!"
Other days, he'd come home teasing, "A dad posted he couldn't wait to see me in person. How do I kindly let him know I'm not looking for extramarital affairs?"
At some point during our wedding ceremony, our officiant asked us to turn towards our guests. He mentioned that although our union was between one another, our guests were all of our teammates and that we could call and rely upon them during hardships yet to encounter.
Ironically, sprinkled throughout the ceremony, the school admin, who also were bundled into the social chaos, were present.
I often reminded my AD that he (along with the select school admins who collectively have over 100 years of educational experience) has been called into this profession from above to positively impact students. But it also meant that part of the deal would include light or heavy baggage, their parents. As anyone can imagine, being publicly humiliated and bashed can take its toll, but I'm fortunate that my husband and I were able to regroup, strategize, and honestly learn valuable lessons. For us, it was important to swift and sort through the madness because we knew our family can't function at half capacity. After all, we have two littles who need happy, engaged, and mentally present parents.
We can only be and do so if our unit is intact.
It'd be silly of me to think we'll never experience this type of behavior in the future. I understand some parents will only post the negatives and somehow forget to mention when my husband canceled family weekend plans to make a home visit, how he's sent film and made calls to colleges, or how he's answered his personal cell at 9 p.m. on a school night.
For some reason, these examples, along with everything he's done and continues to do outside of his job description, get ignored and overlooked by these types of parents.
But one thing I know is true: the most important opinion that has seen everything, big and small, is God. I know with all of my heart that when my husband gets to the gates of Heaven, God will look down at the Chowchilla Union High School Athletic Director, smile, and say, "Well done, my boy. You've succeeded in living your life in the glory of Me."
And when that day comes, the heavenly Likes, Shares, and Comments will supersede far beyond more than anything else we've ever experienced.