Learning to Let Go of the Past

Learning to Let Go of the Past

Sometimes, your heart just knows when something isn’t right.  After a troubling couple of years and struggling both at home and with his career, I asked my coach this question one emotional night… if he could do anything in the world, what would it be?

His reply? Coach at the college level.

And his response changed our entire life.

It suddenly became our goal, our motivation to change directions, change course, and dive into the deep end. I realized that in fully buying into that goal, it would mean a loss of control on my end. I met my husband 2 days before he interviewed for his first head coach position.

Before our recent move, all I knew was being a head coach’s wife. I helped set the schedule, run camps, make meals, handle all the secretarial duties that my husband needed. I ordered and sorted shirts, cleaned the locker room, and arranged coaching families get-togethers. I intimately knew practice schedules, travel routines, stadiums, locker rooms, and concession stands because I was “Mrs. Head Coach.”

For the first time in our marriage, I am in a role where my husband is a position coach. He is coaching on an NCAA D3 college team, an opportunity that he had never dared to dream he would get. And yet, here we are. The first season was canceled due to Covid-19, and now we’re in round 2 of a whole new lifestyle.

I’ve tried to sit with my feelings and process all the things, acknowledge and recognize that this was his dream. But, if I am honest, I am also grieving the loss of that title I carried right alongside him. “Mrs. Head Coach” carries so much more than we realize—and we do realize it when our Coach gets that first opportunity. The title is complex, but we feel the weight of it, even more, when we relinquish it and step back away from the role.

I’m not quite sure what this season of life brings. We’ve already sacrificed so much and have made so many attempts to make the adjustments necessary. He’s adjusting just as much. Where I feel that I don’t know much, he feels that so much more deeply.

And where I feel I am missing him since I can’t just pop down to the field to watch practice or hang out in the coaching office with dinner—he’s feeling that ache just as strong. We are navigating these changes, these transitions together. And when I am reminded that I am not alone in this—this is a shared partnership, a mutually agreed-upon goal, a dream we both cried agonized tears over—it helps.

I’ll do my usual things to mitigate the feelings of being left behind or unappreciated. I’ve already booked up those Saturdays he is at all-day practices with barn sales, u-pick flower farms, pedicures with my sister-in-law, and intentional Target shopping trips.

I’ve switched back to meal planning—so that he always has a meal in the fridge he can grab and heat up, whenever he needs dinner. And, I’m relishing the fact that I am able to binge-watch Netflix without Coach trying to regain control of the remote.

I’m ready for the future when this crazy season is over and “normal” life allows us to do some “normal” football things again. I’m expectantly awaiting the adventure I know this new staff is going to provide. I’m looking forward to hosting position dinners at our house with the young men he is coaching—building those lifelong bonds that he still has with his college coaches.

I’m even excited for the road trips and staying with friends in other cities who happen to be close to where the away games are, sneaking in some of that needed girl time while my husband will be sequestered in the team hotel.

I’ve already been surprised. I’ve seen a joy spark back in my husband that I haven’t seen in years. He is growing as a coach again—being challenged and working harder than he has since he was a college player himself. And that joy has carried over into our marriage and home life, something that had been incredibly lacking these last couple of years he was a head coach.

I am actually getting more time with my husband on Friday nights as we support our high school coaching friends. We’ve started a new tradition of date nights after Saturday home games when we have early kick-offs. It’s led to more meaningful time together, more so than I anticipated.

When we’ve talked about the next steps and if he would go back to coaching high school, he just keeps responding “I’m not ready yet. I’m learning and enjoying so much of this.” And that has me looking back on all those tears we cried when we struggled to even make the decision to dream about what was next, let alone actually chase after that dream. And I know we made the right decision.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t have this moment to grieve. It doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that loss of a role, title, and routine in my life I was comfortable with. It doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely on the sideline by myself, watching him revel in this new experience while I continue to wonder what my place is in this life. While he grows, I feel a bit stuck and lost as I navigate where I fit into this new team and new role.

Rather than wallow, I remind myself it just means that I am being stretched. When rubber bands are stretched they hold more than they first appear. Being stretched through this goal reminds me I’m stronger than I give myself credit for and I can let go and look to the future with joy.