And in a world, a culture, and an industry where women feel obligated to give until they break, I think that’s the best example of what any one should be, not just a head coach’s wife.
You know what? Nobody's life is perfect. If you realize that now, you will save yourself much anxiety, pain, and stress. During season, schedules are crazy, nights get late, and your home will most likely become a mess. As a recovering perfectionist, this is something that freaked me out . . . especially early on in the season.
6. Bring a friend.
This is for the older ones, but bringing one of your kid's friends along is easy entertainment. Occasionally, it'll be closing in on the end of the fourth, and I'll have no idea where a kid is because they've been playing somewhere with their friend.
The sight that met me inside those doors was one I will never forget—and one I have not stopped loving since. There they were, a sea of men. Old and young, many with excellent beards, all of them wearing football apparel.
Then, on a Saturday in October, which started like any other day, I drove about an hour away with my mom to watch a couple of coach’s scrimmages. Because of the set up of the scrimmage, we were allowed to watch from the sidelines. And that’s where I finally learned the lesson that I was not in control. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I planned, nothing was a given.
Can we live without sports? Yes, of course. We did that for a time. But, if we learned anything from last season, it’s that this is more than just a game.
Our family is a coaching family. I will never again question that. If and when sports go back to normal, I am not saying I won’t complain when coach isn’t home to help force my 4-year-old into the bathtub, but I will know what it’s like on the other side, the side without sports.
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But I need you to know how much I love you when you are losing. I see you bring out the best you have to offer your athletes when you are losing.
You don’t know me yet but you will! I’ll be the crazy blonde lady in the stands. The one who some days may look put together and other days … not so much.
Always remember that I learn from the examples that I see. You are my first heroes and who I want to be when I grow up. Please set out large shoes for me to fill. I am counting on you.
I see you when you can’t tear your eyes away from your phone
due to the twenty different conversations you’re having with players, parents, school officials.
I see the hurt in your eyes when the first word our one-year-old
son says to you is bye-bye because he’s so used to you leaving.
I see the base running handbooks discarded on the couch that
you pore over after we go to sleep.
So when you come home to visit your family, don’t forget to come visit ours too. If you’re passing our house on the way out of town and you think about pulling in the driveway, do it. That bonus room in the new house is being built with you boys in mind—a place where the boys can always gather. And if you come to a game, you better give me a hug.
I share this story in hopes of being an encouragement. We all come from different backgrounds, have different interests and personalities. We know for a fact that being a coach's wife is tough much of the time, and that some of us adapt to it better than others.
And I promise you, I'm in this thing, 100% – through all the wins, and all the losses. I'll take the grumpiness and the racing mind. I'll take the distractedness and the tired eyes. I'll take the long conversations about the same frustrations over and over again.
For those of you who didn’t take this approach, you understand just how important other coaches' wives are, not only to your survival, but also to your flourishing.
For those of you who maybe are doing what I did, I hope you realize you’re making the sacrifices whether you admit it or not. There is no need to deny yourself this one aspect of the lifestyle that could actually fill you up.
Don't feel like you can't miss a game.
Guilt about missing a game is a real thing. I get it. I hate missing a game too. Being a coaching family is our life, and I feel like I am not supporting my coach if I miss a game. Here's the thing though, sometimes it's just too much. Some days, you might be completely exhausted from still trying to get the hang of having an infant, or your 7-month-old might be teething, or your toddler might have been throwing tantrums all day, and even just the thought of getting to the game is too much. Guess what? That is okay. Be honest with your coach about this, and learn the other ways you can support him – even when you are not able to be present at a game.
If I am being honest, it is more about craving control than luck.
Nothing about the coaching lifestyle allows the wife to be in control.
He knew many wouldn't understand the importance of his world, that this life was so much more than blowing whistles and running sprints and charting plays, so much more than a game. He knew he would need someone who got it, who understood that this was a mission field, plain and simple.
So God made a coach's wife.
A couple of days ago I was unbuckling our oldest when she looked up at me and said, “Daddy’s never coming back.”
“What?” I was so confused.
Then through tear-filled eyes, she whispered, “He’s always at work.”
My heart broke into a million pieces. It was true. He had just worked a 90+ hour week and she was usually asleep by the time he got home. I promised her we would take him lunch the next day at school so she could see him. She nodded her head and said, “Okay. That sounds good.”
We’re in season. We knew it was coming, but this kind of thing is hard to prepare for. You can say, “This is going to be hard” a million times but when life is actually BEING really hard, it’s tricky to know how to make it un-hard.
Of course, being a coach’s wife has its plusses.
You become a part of a network, a family, a club. You watch your husband spend thousands of hours pouring motivation and encouragement, wisdom and strength into young men who may or may not ever have a positive male presence in their lives again. You experience the high of a win as if you were actually padded up.
But most days are not characterized by these things.
Most days are just me. All by myself. Or scratch that. With three little hoodlums that I have to take care of … all by myself. During the day, I am not thinking of the excitement of playoffs or the impact my husband is making on his players, but mostly how my 1-year-old keeps waking up at 5 am coughing and how my three-year-old is dropping her nap and whether or not I should call a therapist for my four-year-old or when I’m going to make dinner because I can’t afford not to cook. Again.
The grand things — the lessons and the friendships and the influence and the being-apart-of-something-bigger — they make it so worth it.
But the daily grind blurs my vision sometimes.
Your spouse is doing something that matters, that demands so much of him, so much of his soul, that sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s anything left for you.
And sometimes your leftover life, everything he’s left behind, the slack you’ve had to pick up, the cross you didn’t necessarily choose to bear, demands so much of you, so much of your soul, that you don’t have much left for him either.
And sometimes you get used to life without that person. You adjust your schedule to fit the needs of the rest of you, not him, because that’s what survival looks like. Life goes on, incomplete, but it goes on.
And sometimes, it’s harder when he’s there. Everyone has gotten into a routine. Expectations have been set based on the ones always present, so things get confusing when there are new expectations present.
And you creep into a really scary place.
Wives become head of household. Husbands become outsiders in their own home.
We have so been there. Sometimes we are still there. But I’ve learned a few things:
Let him lead. Not because men are better than women at leading their families, but because in the depths of a man’s being, he craves respect. He needs it more than anything.
Let him parent. I tend to think I parent better because I parent the most, and therefore think I should be in charge of all things parenting. But I cannot contradict his yeses and nos (and vice versa). You have to show a united front, lest your children get the idea that what Dad says doesn’t matter.
Go to him. Be a part of his world. Go to practice. Go to the field house. (Obviously, this is specific to coaching… insert appropriate places here). Go to pep rallies. Take him lunch at school (if you don’t work). He can’t leave, but maybe you can. Even if he doesn’t say it, he needs to see his family. He needs to feel supported and cheered for and being present is a good way of showing that.
Communicate. Text him. Email him. Send him pictures and videos of the kids throughout the day. Tell him you’re proud of him and you love him. Give him those compliments you’re too awkward to say in person. The beauty of this day and age is you can still talk to each other even if you never see each other.
Make your minutes precious. We are so bad at this. We are so dead at the end of the day that the only thing we want to do is nothing. But this is your ONE CHANCE to connect. Put away the technology. Stop looking at your phones. Make what little time you have together meaningful.
This is a season of sacrifice and service, which is incredibly draining.
And it’s so hard because I am naturally a selfish person, and the refining process is a very painful one. It’s like God is taking a huge torch (called football season) and burning away all the crust that has coated my heart (called this-life-is-all-about-me).
But, lean in closely so you don’t miss this part, don’t forget yourself. Give yourself time and priority. Connect with people and connect with God. Ask for help and give yourself grace.
You are worth nothing to no one if you are worn and empty.
And you are worth far more than nothing. You are worth so much. You are worthy of so much. There is no guilt in self-care, only strength and refreshment.
Don’t forget your worth. And don’t forget you’re worthy.