It's Valentine's Day.
The rest of the civilized world is waiting in line at their favorite restaurant for the best Valentine date, going to a movie, or just cuddling on the couch with popcorn and their favorite Netflix binge. Some wives may be unwrapping spa packages or a delicate new jewel, but that's not my coach's love language.
A weekend away...
No ladies, instead, I have the coveted privilege of awakening before dawn, traveling 8 hours to attend – wait for it… a football clinic.
Are you married to the coach who might say in retort to my sarcasm, "Hey, he could have gone alone! But, at least, he invited his wife to come."
"Luckily," without any sarcasm, "so am I."
We pulled into Fredericksburg, Texas, right on schedule, dumped our duffle bags in the hotel room, piled back into the car, and dropped him off at the clinic in time to hear the speakers he had noted.
"Be back at five- unless I text you sooner. That gives you three hours to get beautiful." He gave it a beat before adding, "you might want to get started." Oh, that man! A perfect valentine's date would not be complete without his sarcasm.
Dinner and a romantic drive…
His plans did include a nice dinner for the two of us, so we feasted on Mexican food and raised our glasses in a toast to us. With a few hours to spend before the coaches' social began, Coach decided we should explore the town. It's a quaint Texas Hill country staple nestled between ranches and hilltops of knotty scrub oaks and boney sandstone. A younger me might have wished for a patio, a glass of wine, and one mug of beer at the street corner bistro in this old German village, but the old coach's wife in me knew if that's what I really wanted, I had better speak up. My man can read a defense like champ, but if we are asking him to read my mind, we are looking at a busted play. Sure enough, within minutes of leaving the restaurant, our black SUV followed the sounds of buzzing stadium lights and the smells of weeks-old popcorn grease. The car made one last slow turn at Fredericksburg High School's football stadium. It's the third stadium we have seen, having turned off the highway twice to "check out the facilities"—romance, ladies, with a capital R.
True love compliments…
"Pretty good set-up," Coach remarked, admiring the field, the scoreboard, and the press box before we pulled out from our parking spot. The field received more compliments than my black jeans, snake-skin boots, and a brightly colored blouse that makes my green eyes pop. Sigh…
I made him stop at the exit, so I could capture a piece of "Americana" before we drove away, taking a picture of the flag and the stadium lights that always call to him.
Our evening ended at the coaches' social. We were newcomers, outliers to a band of coaches who had made this clinic a ritual, so we spent the first hour identifying who was the head coach, the QB coach, the O-Line master, the DC. My coach had met a few of them earlier, and I impressed him with my ability to identify each of them cold.
But, again, he's not impressed by my kissable lips, just my ability to pick out the DC! Little known fact, I can identify the strong and weak side of the field or the perfect setup for a suicide squeeze, too. Oh- the things we do for attention!
A love that's worth it…
I'm thirty plus years in - I've done the nights alone with my babies, waking up at midnight-thirty when the garage door finally opens and my man returns to us; I've wrestled with the idea of competing with his love for the gridiron, the baseball diamond, the camaraderie he builds with his fellow over-grown-eighth-graders.Those feelings exist; motherhood while raising a coach ranks right up there with work, hard work.Thankfully, I learned early on the role I play each season.
I am the perspective in the seventh inning of the state tournament when we've just run out pitching; I'm meatball sandwiches before every jv football game; I'm the knee he reaches across the car to squeeze when we are road-tripping for a weekend away, even if its hours are filled with more ball; I am dinner in a sack from our favorite hamburger place with the kids between practice and kick-off, and I am the one who says, "You need to take your daughter to dinner or your son to the golf course," in a gentle but firm reminder that I can be a fierce catcher protecting our home plate. At the end of the day or any season, I'm the heart who's lucky to love what he loves.
I could go on, but we are pulling into another perfect little Texas town, and he has spotted the stadium lights. Happy Love Story to me.
"Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned." Song of Solomon 8:7