Learning the Tension of Being Fully Independent and Fully Supportive
We tend to base our identity upon the people around us, the positions we hold, and—as coaches’ wives—the places we live.
But this causes a problem when the lifestyle you lead tends to be nomadic and ever changing.
In my journey through this coach’s wife life, I’ve struggled finding that balance of my own personal identity and my identity as the coach’s wife. Then when motherhood was added into the mix, it became this complete chaos of confusion and unclear boundaries.
The coach’s wife life is this wild dichotomy of having your life (from your daily schedule to your entire future) be dependent upon someone else, their dreams and performance. But at the same time, in order to survive and thrive in it, you must learn to be independent from that person and function solo a large majority of the time.
For the longest time, I could only comprehend this as either/or, a one or the other situation. I was either completely independent, just trying to stay afloat while balancing every aspect of life solo, or I was a coach’s wife and 100% of what I did was to support him
In the beginning of our relationship I was still in college and then grad school, as well as working part time, so “the coach’s significant other” (girlfriend and then fiancé) wasn’t even something I saw as part of my identity. I went to all the home games and cheered my heart out in the stands. I supported him but I was operating completely independently in all areas of life.
Once we got married, it wasn’t even two months before we had to move, and my identity as I saw it was challenged.
I found myself having to start over with a lot of the major pieces of who I thought I was. I had to start a new job, make all new friends and navigate a whole new location.
When we had our first kid, we had just moved again 3 months prior. We also decided I’d stay at home while the kids were young so they had as much access to daddy before their school and other activities started to dictate their schedule. So in one swoop my identity as I’d known it was completely wiped clean.
Since I no longer had a sense of who I was, I dove in full force with the only thing that was left: I was a coach’s wife, first and foremost.
I took care of all the motherly and house duties so that coach could just come home and worry about nothing. I didn’t do much for myself because it would always cause more stress. Something at work would inevitably come up and coach wouldn’t be able to watch the kids or it added too much to my to do list and got pushed to another day.
It didn’t take long before the anger and resentment built up to the point where it could no longer be ignored. I started reaching for people who could understand this division and help me navigate my way to cohesion.
It was mostly this community, other women who understood what I was going through, that was able to stabilize me and set me on the right track.
I have come to realize you aren’t fully one or the other, completely independent or fully invested in this coaching lifestyle.
The truth is it’s actually a sliding scale. There will be days, seasons, years where you can attend all the things, make all the players treats (and know their names), and be present when coach is trying to talk it over after the game.
But there will also be those times where it’s just too stressful to manage little kids in the bleachers, too long of a week to travel an hour and a half on a Friday afternoon to make an away game, or your stretched too thin in too many directions to be able to lend a supportive ear.
Don’t get stuck at either end.
Assess the season of life that you are in and adjust accordingly.
Jess Gilardi is a lacrosse coach’s wife who recently moved to Long Island when her husband became a head coach. She has three kids, ages 7, 6, and 3. 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). She does manage to fit in a little work here and there. Outside of lacrosse and family, she loves Jesus, the Tracy Anderson Method, and empowering others. You can follow her crazy adventures on social media, Instagram @jessgilardi and Facebook as Jessica Gilardi.