As spring football approached this past year, my coach shared with me that he was going to take a year off to focus on completing his associate’s degree and determine what he wanted to do next.
We talked about his feelings about being away from the game, my feelings about him stepping away from something he loves and hopes to make a full-time career. We talked about the freedom on Friday nights to attend any game we wish in our semi-large city, to support players he has coached in the past and support his coaching friends.
Soon after this conversation, the message came: a former colleague had been named head coach at a local high school and wanted him to come along and be a part of the staff. He told him he didn’t have time, that he was focusing on completing his degree—all the reasons we had discussed as to why he had chosen not to attach to a team this year.
They agreed he would take on a “consulting” role: he'd be there when it was convenient for him but have no responsibilities outside of occasionally coming to practice/meetings and making suggestions.
Two weeks later, he was named assistant head coach.
And now, we have fallen into the familiar patterns of separate dinners, “what time will the meeting be over” (add an hour for good measure), and preparing for the season.
For my part, I have learned the mascot and colors of the new team I will be supporting and have tried to get to know as much of the rest of the coaching staff, players, and parents as possible.
Meanwhile, he is maintaining his commitment to completing his associate’s degree and we are both working full time jobs (his 3rd shift…you know, to better accommodate his football schedule). We also have two dogs to care for and, oh yeah, are trying to maintain a healthy and functioning marriage.
The grass didn’t get mowed this week.
The dishes piled up until they overflowed out of the sink.
Our cars have needed washing for a month or more.
I have cooked dinner exactly twice in as many weeks. That is not a joke. Thank goodness for leftovers, microwaves, fast food and frozen pizza.
But you know what? I’m ok with all of it.
Our extremely limited time together is precious. I would much rather spend the two hours we have together at the end of the day (between football practice and him leaving for his full-time job) lying head to head on the couch, holding hands, talking about our respective days.
I would rather hear his frustration at this player or other coach for whatever happened at practice that day.
I would rather share with him my frustrations and hopes for my career, hear the (always) hilarious stories from coaches meeting or pre-practice locker room . . . the list goes on and on.
I would rather do any of those things than stress that our grass is a bit too tall and maybe our neighbors are annoyed at us, give him grief about why he is using a whole clean plate to eat his one piece of leftover pizza (that’s another dish to add the overflowing pile!), or worry about any of the annoying “responsibilities” of day to day life.
Football season (or basketball, baseball, hockey, whichever sport your coach loves) is chaos. I am more willing to let my house explode with unwashed dishes than to let my relationship crumble underneath of time pressures and lack of communication.
So this season, if you come to my house and notice dog hair collected in a corner, dishes in the sink, or a pile of laundry yet to be folded, please don’t wonder why I am curled up on the couch underneath my man’s arm watching some documentary on Netflix instead of cleaning.
I am taking whatever I can get in the fall.
The dishes will still be there in two hours, my coach will not.
I will not spend my Friday evenings folding and putting away towels. I will be wearing team colors and cheering as loud anyone else in the stands. Every game. I will support my husband in his passion, cherish every second I have to spend with him, and the rest of life will be taken care of when I have time for it.