My oldest child greeted me so sweetly this morning. “When are you going to do laundry? I’m running out of clothes that fit.”
This is one of my favorite questions, along with, “Did you get more milk at the store?” My children seem to believe I have an internal monitor that lets me know when other people’s stuff is low, so I can run out and get it without being told.
Things escalate to a meltdown after telling my middle child that now is not a good time for me to help her with her school project. She seems unaware that my hands are dripping with chicken juice. After a long day, I’m frantically trying to get dinner on the table.
Whether we like it or not, the coach’s wife is often relied on as the family’s foundation. There’s no way around it. You cannot build your base on someone who is only around sporadically. We are the rock. And I used to wear that title with pride until I realized even the biggest, strongest rocks experience erosion.
We all have those moments where we start to lose our patience. Those are the times when my emotions begin to erode, and no one gets the best of me. So, over the years, I’ve learned a few prevention strategies.
What I Won’t Say To My Fellow Coach’s Wife
I won’t just say, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.” I know what it’s like to do a million tiny thoughtful things for everyone else only to have them overlooked or unappreciated and rarely reciprocated.
I also know what it’s like to be everyone else’s biggest cheerleader, only to find myself metaphorically playing with an empty sideline when it’s my turn field. So it’s true, you’re not alone in this. But let’s not normalize feeling invisible.
I’m NOT someone who will tell you, “God sees all that you do, and that’s enough.” But, while this is also true, you are his daughter. Would you want to watch your girls suffer in silence?
What Has Helped Ease My Burden
I’ve learned that explicitly communicating is key. Yes, coach is a grown man responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of many other people, but that doesn’t mean he knows what to do at home. Almost 18 years later, I’m still having the same conversations and reminders with coach of what I need and want from him.
Ask for help and delegate. This was the most challenging for me because I’m one of those “no one will do it as well as I can” people. But, being okay with something getting done instead of perfection has stopped the erosion process.
Lower your expectations. This went hand in hand with delegation. So what if my daughter’s definition of cleaning her room is throwing everything in the closet and closing the door or throwing her inside-out shirt in her pants drawer when she decides she’s not actually going to wear it today? There will be a time when I can say, “I told you so,” and it’s usually when she’s late for the bus and frantically looking for her favorite shorts. I get more joy out of that than being able to walk into her room without tripping over the most random items imaginable.
And if all that still isn’t working, I stop doing things for everyone from time to time. Seriously. I’ll throw their clean, unfolded clothes in a pile on the floor. They’ll find something to wear. I’ve told them to see what they can make for lunch with one stale piece of bread, a handful of beans, half a pickle, and some almonds. They won’t starve. I may or may not have let coach feel the heat after forgetting someone on his side of the family’s birthday, and there wasn’t a card or gift to celebrate. But, trust me, they started to notice and appreciate all the things you do.
Coach may be gone frequently, but you are still partners in your marriage. It’s good for your kids to see you work as a team whenever possible. So don’t feel guilty about asking for help. Remember, even the strongest foundation will crack under too much pressure.