Sometimes It Only Looks Good on the Napkin
The other day my husband and I were on a long road trip. You’ve all been there. It’s when he found enough time to call his coaching buddies and have the solid catch up that can only happen when we have hours of road ahead.
One coach my husband talked with was working on some new install. I don’t know if it was offense or defense. Truth be told I was trying to take a nap while my kids were sacked out in the back seat.
But, blessed be, these men have the loudest voices, and (if I’m honest) I kinda’ like listening to him talk to other coaches. I was sitting there on the edge of consciousness, my husband’s voice and the hum of the road as my companions when I heard this, “Yeah Coach, sometimes it only looks good on the napkin.”
My eyes shot open. “Sometimes it only looks good on the napkin.”
Ladies, I am adding this phrase to our vocabulary. Not just mine. I am offering it as an addition to all of our vocabularies. Because we need it.
When we start out in this life together, we develop a vision for it. Of course we do. Everyone does this with their hopes and dreams, their marriages, and their children. Just like coach draws up plays on napkins, we are doing the same kind of thing in our head. We are drawing up a playbook full of plans for our families and we are hoping that they work.
However, as we all know, the coaching life can be unpredictable. Game to game, season to season, this town only to move to the next town, we often live in the midst of change. The plans we draw up in our heads can very easily be shifted by a big win, devastating loss, weather, parent concern, athlete injury or discipline, hiring, firing, or player who needed a ride home.
While we try to create some sort of predictable routine for ourselves and our families, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
I’m offering you this coaching family catch phrase, it only looks good on the napkin, so we can take a little pressure off ourselves.
We need a way to create some mental room for the changing needs of our families, our marriages and our coveted moments. The coaching life doesn’t have to look any one way and, frankly, it usually doesn’t end up the way we planned anyway. I want to give you permission, as coach’s wife and coaching family, to wad those mental napkins up every once in a while and toss them out. Sometimes we need to draw up a new play.
Like when I wanted to be at all the games this year but we just had a new baby and I’m exhausted. It only looked good on the napkin.
When I planned to keep my kids in the same school for at least a couple years but Coach got the opportunity of a lifetime. It only looked good on the napkin.
When we got fired and had to move from the town that we loved. It only looked good on the napkin.
When I was really hoping for a full and festive Christmas but it’s been a hard year and all I can muster is hanging one wreath on the mantle. It only looked good on the napkin.
When I got sick, run down, busy, occupied, derailed, distracted or just needed a good old fashioned normal human break, and I couldn’t do everything I planned as a coach’s wife. It only looked good on the napkin.
My fellow coaching wife warriors, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the done. We cannot sacrifice our sanity by trying to run plays that just don’t work with our current personnel, life stage or needs. So don’t try. Sometimes you just have to wad those things up, toss them away and draw up something new.
So this summer, as we approach another new school year and sports seasons, talk with your coach about your family playbook. Let him know what plays you have drawn up in your head and ask him about his own. See if you are generally on the same page about what system you are running.
And then, when all the planning is done, add this to your family vocabulary as needed. “Babe, sometimes it only looks good on the napkin. Let’s draw up something new that works better for our team. The most important wins we need this year are our own.”
Happy play making!
Anne is an author, speaker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist and veteran coaches wife. She and her husband Tim have two children and they have been a coaching family through a state championship run and very difficult losing seasons. They are passionate about encouraging coaching families both in and out of season.