My car died the other day. Thankfully, the battery gave up its final breaths while I was sitting in stall 3 at Sonic on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
My husband got coverage for his in-school detention class, picked me up, took me back to the office, returned to school, attended football practice, and grabbed me after the team meal.
We both thought if we gave the old girl a good long charge, she’d make it to the battery store. However, she started right up as soon as I turned her over, so I just headed out on 71st in the middle of 5:00pm rush hour to the auto parts store 3 miles away.
Unfortunately, my little white Honda’s battery light came on less than half a mile from Sonic.
In the right hand lane, I began jockeying to change lanes while approaching the Highway 169 overpass. I made it through the first light, only to hit a red one right before the merging traffic from the highway exits east from the overhead speedway.
As I brought the car to a stop, she died. Like no lights. No sounds. No little “click, click, click” to even give a girl hope. At the end of my third try to restart the engine, the stoplight turned green. The lane to the left of me began to move at the “I’m ready to get home" clip, and I could feel every driver behind me saying, “WTH,” in their native tongues.
I began desperately looking for the hazard lights. For fifteen seconds I repeated the phrase in my head, “Just stay calm. You won’t find the hazards if you panic. Just stay calm.”
I didn’t find the hazard lights.
Then it was my turn to say, “What the heck!”
I gave the key one quarter twist, confidently placed the car in neutral, and opened my door just wide enough to get my old body of 52 years out of the car without entering traffic in the adjacent lane. They are all very concerned racing by at 45 miles an hour.
Here, the punch line of this story requires me to backfill a little.
I have a few nicknames—my prom date from my junior year of high school liked to call me ‘Wildebeest’ and ‘Amazon.’ My husband, who at this moment in time was a mere two cars behind me, likes to refer to me as “Saltalamachia”—because he believes that particular name will fit across by back in all caps. Apparently, I have the shoulders of a linebacker.
Truly, words that would make one feel lovely.
So—in two inch heels, a very cute orange denim skirt, white blouse, and lightweight black duster, I shut the door to my car, place my right hand on the back passenger door handle and my left hand on the open edge of the driver’s window.
Then, I take my wildebeest girth, my Amazonian legs, and my Saltalamachia shoulders and begin pushing my white Honda in the middle 71st street through the intersection toward the closest parking lot just beyond the exit ramp from the highway. Soon, I was jogging with my car.
Finally, two gentlemen attended to my zoo-like creature-ness right before the turn into the parking lot of a local restaurant. The car is moving at a good clip when the two good Samaritans join me. One of them says, “Jump in and steer!”
So now I’m opening the door, gathering up the edges of my knee-length duster, jogging beside the car, boobs bouncing, as I try to ACT like I still have the agility of someone who could “just jump into a freaking moving car”, all without flashing the folks in the area as I hike up my skirt to execute said jump.
I will spare you the descriptive details of how long it took me to breathe normally again.
My fellow coaches’ wives laughed with me when I shared this story on our Group Me message; one of them even surmised that my husband was probably filming the whole fiasco on his phone from his car behind me. When I shared this with him, he responded, “Ah hell no. I was shouting Eastern Block, Eastern Block!”
Yes—this is the man with whom I chose to pro-create.
Love languages are as unique as the souls who subscribe to them.
Ours is sarcasm, salted and peppered with a little sardonic wit. About once every six months, he will say something romantic, out of the blue, kind, and loving; those words are a piece of his heart that will stay with me through the Saturdays he should be home at noon but walks in at 2pm, the Sundays we rush through family lunch just so he can get to game planning, and the Mondays with JV football games and a 10:30pm late night walk through the door.
I am sure if you search the chapters of your own love story, you will find your man’s sweet whispers to you.
Cute stories don’t do a great deal for weary hearts and tired minds of a wife who feels overlooked, used, and taken for granted as Week Five and Six pull us into the heart of the season.
I remember that kind of tired, where being kind, or patient, or forgiving to those you love the most is sometimes the hardest work of the day. When the sweetest name we have ever been called, “mama”, is the one sound that can send us over the edge.
However, when the depths of mommy-tired wore me to the bone, I remembered his kind words; the silly gestures, the way his breath feels on my hand when he picks it up to kiss it. I remembered the twinkle in ornery brown eyes when he says sarcastic remarks like, “Eastern Block, Eastern Block!” I remembered that I wanted more than anything to be his wife and live this life.
Not to be overlooked, there are conversations we must have with our men, our coaches to remind them of what they wanted when they chose life with us—after 29 years, I can tell you I have the best results when I broach those conversations before the season begins or in between seasons.
I need him to be able to think about us, and he needs me to not be emotional. We need boundaries, healthy expectations, honesty and actions. If your guy is as sold out to ball as mine is, he needs you to wait until the season is over.
Being a coach’s wife is rarely ever fair ladies, in the trenches of any season, in the midst of early childhood years when every need relies on you, or even if it’s only you and your man—it is rarely fair. Nevertheless, every good football coach will tell you to never leave the game in the hand of the ref—don’t count on fair.
Count on the promises you made to your husband, even when you feel alone.
If you continue to choose it every day, this life where we raise his biological kids and the kids he adopts every season, it is worth it. It’s just hard. And every once in while we pull all our “gifts” together, throw our shoulders into our jobs, and take care of business.
Perhaps our men are watching and cheering us on in whatever language they speak—or perhaps it’s just us—knowing through God’s grace, we did it anyway.