This community is something special. It is supportive, positive, and helpful. Most often, bonds are formed that are more than friendships, maybe even closer than family. There is something to be said about women who have walked a very similar road, had the same general ups and downs, and still stop to help lift up anyone they meet along their journey. Physical location and actually knowing someone in person doesn’t even stop us from providing help.
But what do you do if you don’t have a picture-perfect wife tribe right at your school?
Here are three things I’ve learned
1. Learn from or help the other wives.
It’s most likely that the other wives on the staff are in varying stages of life — no kids, young kids, grown kids, and everything in between. If you’re the one with kids, ask a wife without any if she wants to sit with you or travel to an away game with you. I can guarantee that she’s thinking in the back of her mind, “Will I be able to handle this life once we have kids?” It might not be easy or perfect, but show her it’s possible. If you’re the one without kids, take this as an opportunity to learn from the other wives. This is what I did at our first two schools before we had kids. I watched, helped, and learned from the other wives. I took the pieces from everyone I thought would fit with coach’s and my personality. Of course, nothing ever works out exactly the way you plan it, but I did feel better thinking I had a general overview on how this life works once children are involved.
2. Look outside the coaches' wives.
Let’s be honest, we aren’t the only ones surviving this crazy life. There are band wives, athletic trainer wives, and at the collegiate level, we have marketing, equipment and ticketing spouses, too. Our spouses might play different parts of the game, but the time, energy and sacrifices are the same. We all experience the same overall struggles. Don’t forget about them. And don't discount the other women around you, whether they be at church, your job, or just a neighbor down the street, assuming they "don't understand." They still might have some pretty awesome listening ears.
3. Don’t fall for the highlight reel that is social media.
I’ve definitely found myself looking at other wives’ social media accounts and wishing that I had such a close tribe. But I’ve had to laugh at myself, because I do. It just so happens that we are all at the same stage with a lot of little kids that have us pulled in all directions. But I have fellow wives that would drop everything to help if I really needed it, and this is more important than the social media high five from a wife. I’ve needed another wife to drop what she was doing, forego her youngest’s nap time to rush to my house and check out my youngest after a terrible fall. I’ve watched the oldest of another wife when she had to rush her youngest to the ER after a sibling fight went wrong. These are the things that define a true tribe. Just because we haven’t had the chance to take that perfect picture of us sitting together in the stands in awhile, doesn’t make us any less of a tribe.
I’ve learned that even when you get the perfect tribe in real life, this life and this profession change so quickly. Whether it’s the stage of life you’re in or the school you’re at, for better or for worse, nothing lasts forever. The best thing you can do is take your experiences and interactions with your tribe, learn and grow from them, so that you can help the next wife that crosses your path along this journey. You may not need the lesson, but she might.
Jess Gilardi is a head lacrosse coach’s wife living on the East Coast. They have three young kids and have been living this life since 2004. She was a mental health therapist in the school system before becoming the full time chaos coordinator for the family (a.k.a. stay at home mom).