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Save Your “No” For When It Matters

My husband began his career as a large high school’s Athletic Trainer and now serves as a middle school Athletic Coordinator. The high school in his cluster has many responsibilities given to their middle school coaches, including scouting trips, sideline responsibilities, game filming and more.

This year has been particularly challenging as the district opted to start a third football team for middle schools in both grade levels, adding another night when coaches stayed later and away from their families.

There were weeks when he had other responsibilities on top of just football, like PTA meetings and Meet the Teacher night. He tried to go cheer on other students at volleyball games and be a representative at Spirit Night fundraisers at local restaurants.

Sunday nights we usually had a calendar run down so I would know which nights we would even see each other before 9:00 pm.

Football season wears down even the strongest families as the weeks go on.

Months of telling your kids, “Daddy will be home after you go to bed, but you can give him hugs in the morning.” Making dinners while trying to help with homework and not just letting your kids zone out in front of the TV.  (Trying, not always succeeding!) Happy conversations when his team wins and frustrated rants when something just isn’t clicking and they lose.

Every once in a blue moon, my husband will call me after an event has ended and just ask if I am okay with him grabbing some food and perhaps an adult beverage with another coach.

Here is where I want to share a magical piece of advice that a friend shared with me. She told me that when her husband would ask to go out with a friend, she would say yes unless there was a really big reason to say no.

“Save your no for when it really matters.”

I do appreciate that my husband is considerate enough to ask, and most of the time, it is already so late that all the kids are already in bed. Sure, I miss him and would appreciate some time for the two of us.

But I can also sense that when he asks for this extra time, it is because he needs to relax or build up a relationship with a fellow coach. Maybe they want to celebrate just making it through another week or maybe they want to talk X’s and O’s. I trust that the men that my husband hangs around are good guys and I don’t worry about what they are up to.

Plus, and here is the surprising best part, sometimes it doesn’t work out.  There have been times when he texts me to check in, I say “Go for it,” and then he texts back to say that the other guys couldn’t go after all.

No criticism of their wives, because they may have had an exhausting night and really needed their husbands to get their booty back home. But then guess who still gets Wife Points for saying yes – Me!

My husband has learned that when I say no, it is because I genuinely need backup at home.

Maybe I am frantically trying to finish a school project that is due the next day, or I need him to pick up some groceries on the way home. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why it could be an “All Hands On Deck” evening at our casa.

The point is that we have that understanding between us. We respect that there are times when friends can refill your emotional tank, and as football season comes to an end I will try to schedule more of those opportunities for myself too.

It can be really tempting to be greedy of my husband’s time when I feel like it is already in such short supply this time of year.

However, the years have taught me that a coaching staff with great camaraderie is a special thing that can make the seasons better.  If an occasional night out is one way to keep it going, I am going to try to say yes.

I am going to save my “Heck no!” for the night when I am up to my elbows in craziness, and then thank my husband for coming to my rescue.

Are you a coach’s wife? Join our online community and connect with other coaches’ wives in the same season as you.

Dear Coach, I’m Choosing Grace

We are partners in ife. For us, that life includes football and all it entails. Please know, Coach, just because you are in-season, that doesn’t mean my needs are put on hold. I don’t need less of your time or attention. I don’t need less of your focus or your love. I don’t need less physical closeness and intimacy.

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The Motto That Saves My Sanity (and My Marriage) During Season

This week when I contemplated that phrase again, I realized that it comes with a great deal of freedom too. The things that are “up to me” may mean that I am going to have to complete more tasks solo, but you know what else? It is also up to me to be the one who says which things are worthy of doing.

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messy house good marriage

My House Won't Be Clean This Season and I'm Not Sorry About It

As spring football approached this past year, my coach shared with me that he was going to take a year off to focus on completing his associate’s degree and determine what he wanted to do next. 

We talked about his feelings about being away from the game, my feelings about him stepping away from something he loves and hopes to make a full-time career. We talked about the freedom on Friday nights to attend any game we wish in our semi-large city, to support players he has coached in the past and support his coaching friends. 

Soon after this conversation, the message came: a former colleague had been named head coach at a local high school and wanted him to come along and be a part of the staff. He told him he didn’t have time, that he was focusing on completing his degree—all the reasons we had discussed as to why he had chosen not to attach to a team this year. 

They agreed he would take on a “consulting” role: he’d be there when it was convenient for him but have no responsibilities outside of occasionally coming to practice/meetings and making suggestions. 

Two weeks later, he was named assistant head coach. 

And now, we have fallen into the familiar patterns of separate dinners, “what time will the meeting be over” (add an hour for good measure), and preparing for the season.

For my part, I have learned the mascot and colors of the new team I will be supporting and have tried to get to know as much of the rest of the coaching staff, players, and parents as possible. 

Meanwhile, he is maintaining his commitment to completing his associate’s degree and we are both working full time jobs (his 3rd shift…you know, to better accommodate his football schedule). We also have two dogs to care for and, oh yeah, are trying to maintain a healthy and functioning marriage.

The grass didn’t get mowed this week.

The dishes piled up until they overflowed out of the sink.

Our cars have needed washing for a month or more.

I have cooked dinner exactly twice in as many weeks. That is not a joke. Thank goodness for leftovers, microwaves, fast food and frozen pizza.

But you know what? I’m ok with all of it. 

Our extremely limited time together is precious. I would much rather spend the two hours we have together at the end of the day (between football practice and him leaving for his full-time job) lying head to head on the couch, holding hands, talking about our respective days. 

I would rather hear his frustration at this player or other coach for whatever happened at practice that day.

I would rather share with him my frustrations and hopes for my career, hear the (always) hilarious stories from coaches meeting or pre-practice locker room . . . the list goes on and on.

I would rather do any of those things than stress that our grass is a bit too tall and maybe our neighbors are annoyed at us, give him grief about why he is using a whole clean plate to eat his one piece of leftover pizza (that’s another dish to add the overflowing pile!), or worry about any of the annoying “responsibilities” of day to day life. 

Football season (or basketball, baseball, hockey, whichever sport your coach loves) is chaos.  I am more willing to let my house explode with unwashed dishes than to let my relationship crumble underneath of time pressures and lack of communication.

So this season, if you come to my house and notice dog hair collected in a corner, dishes in the sink, or a pile of laundry yet to be folded, please don’t wonder why I am curled up on the couch underneath my man’s arm watching some documentary on Netflix instead of cleaning.

I am taking whatever I can get in the fall. 

The dishes will still be there in two hours, my coach will not.

I will not spend my Friday evenings folding and putting away towels. I will be wearing team colors and cheering as loud anyone else in the stands. Every game. I will support my husband in his passion, cherish every second I have to spend with him, and the rest of life will be taken care of when I have time for it.

messy house good marriage

My House Won’t Be Clean This Season and I’m Not Sorry About It

As spring football approached this past year, my coach shared with me that he was going to take a year off to focus on completing his associate’s degree and determine what he wanted to do next. 

We talked about his feelings about being away from the game, my feelings about him stepping away from something he loves and hopes to make a full-time career. We talked about the freedom on Friday nights to attend any game we wish in our semi-large city, to support players he has coached in the past and support his coaching friends. 

Soon after this conversation, the message came: a former colleague had been named head coach at a local high school and wanted him to come along and be a part of the staff. He told him he didn’t have time, that he was focusing on completing his degree—all the reasons we had discussed as to why he had chosen not to attach to a team this year. 

They agreed he would take on a “consulting” role: he’d be there when it was convenient for him but have no responsibilities outside of occasionally coming to practice/meetings and making suggestions. 

Two weeks later, he was named assistant head coach. 

And now, we have fallen into the familiar patterns of separate dinners, “what time will the meeting be over” (add an hour for good measure), and preparing for the season.

For my part, I have learned the mascot and colors of the new team I will be supporting and have tried to get to know as much of the rest of the coaching staff, players, and parents as possible. 

Meanwhile, he is maintaining his commitment to completing his associate’s degree and we are both working full time jobs (his 3rd shift…you know, to better accommodate his football schedule). We also have two dogs to care for and, oh yeah, are trying to maintain a healthy and functioning marriage.

The grass didn’t get mowed this week.

The dishes piled up until they overflowed out of the sink.

Our cars have needed washing for a month or more.

I have cooked dinner exactly twice in as many weeks. That is not a joke. Thank goodness for leftovers, microwaves, fast food and frozen pizza.

But you know what? I’m ok with all of it. 

Our extremely limited time together is precious. I would much rather spend the two hours we have together at the end of the day (between football practice and him leaving for his full-time job) lying head to head on the couch, holding hands, talking about our respective days. 

I would rather hear his frustration at this player or other coach for whatever happened at practice that day.

I would rather share with him my frustrations and hopes for my career, hear the (always) hilarious stories from coaches meeting or pre-practice locker room . . . the list goes on and on.

I would rather do any of those things than stress that our grass is a bit too tall and maybe our neighbors are annoyed at us, give him grief about why he is using a whole clean plate to eat his one piece of leftover pizza (that’s another dish to add the overflowing pile!), or worry about any of the annoying “responsibilities” of day to day life. 

Football season (or basketball, baseball, hockey, whichever sport your coach loves) is chaos.  I am more willing to let my house explode with unwashed dishes than to let my relationship crumble underneath of time pressures and lack of communication.

So this season, if you come to my house and notice dog hair collected in a corner, dishes in the sink, or a pile of laundry yet to be folded, please don’t wonder why I am curled up on the couch underneath my man’s arm watching some documentary on Netflix instead of cleaning.

I am taking whatever I can get in the fall. 

The dishes will still be there in two hours, my coach will not.

I will not spend my Friday evenings folding and putting away towels. I will be wearing team colors and cheering as loud anyone else in the stands. Every game. I will support my husband in his passion, cherish every second I have to spend with him, and the rest of life will be taken care of when I have time for it.

Love Isn’t About Just One Day

Considering I was born in the afternoon, I guess today is my first full day of being 40. Yep, yesterday was that day where clearly I need to pack it in and get my shawl out, adopt 50 or so cats and knit something random. I’ve heard my entire life and into our marriage that my husband “has it easy,” because he can buy flowers for my birthday and they’ll last all the way through Valentines.

For the record, he’s very clear that isn’t the case…

But like most of you, Valentine’s Day, as well as anniversaries, birthdays (not just mine, but anyone, including his own), and most other holidays really fall victim to “what does the schedule say?”

For us, Valentines happens to fall at the same time every year as his yearly conference. Yep, right now I need to laugh and say it: my husband, a band director, is most likely sitting in a classroom learning how to score. Well, musical scores that is.

Therefore, we have to laugh it off and roll with the punches. Now don’t get me wrong. I love any holiday—Hallmark or otherwise—that prompts my husband to show his affections. But in between events, meetings, and all of his work in between, it’s really more about him “remembering I’m alive and putting in effort.”

I think sometimes it’s about being creative. One year he left me cards for each day he’d be gone, because our child was too small to even consider going amongst all the crowds. Other times, he calls and (thank goodness the miracle of technology) we have dinner “together” despite being miles apart (and get strange looks from passers-by). It’s these things that I take solace in, because while the “guys” might be snickering at his efforts, it’s clear to me that my husband puts our relationship first.

Other times we have to realize it’s about the celebration, even if the timing isn’t exactly accurate. So birthdays are postponed, anniversaries are jiggled around on the calendar, and we work with our families to make sure they understand that Thanksgiving = playoffs, not turkey.

For the most part, this works well, because it’s about making sure the moment doesn’t go unforgotten, even if it’s not celebrated on the day it should be.  

Finally, what about us? I mean, who’s stopping us from taking Valentine’s Day by the horns and owning it? Bake him cookies, surprise him and stay up late with dinner or even early morning hours with breakfast if it means making something work. Valentine’s Day is an equal-opportunity holiday, how about make it a little easier and alternate who takes the lead each year?

So for the Spring sports sideline wives, I’m with you.

Tonight might have you sitting in the stands and the most you get is a wave and a wink.  

For a few of us, a phone call might be the most we can muster by way of romance.  

For others, we may be showered in flowers and fanciness and that’s okay too.

It’s so easy to feel like what happens today is indicative of how much you are loved. But let’s all remember something that is near and dear to us—the score ONLY counts at the end of the game, and today is not the end. Each day we have a chance to love and be loved, and no date on the calendar determines our worth.

In the meantime, I’m drinking my prune juice while knitting a heart-shaped sweater for my new cat Walter, as the first day of 40 was very tiring. Love, peace and trumpet valve grease, ladies – have a great Valentine’s Day!

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done for Our Family is Learn to Say “No”

I have realized that I don't have to fill every second coach is working with things to keep them (and myself) distracted. And I don't have to fill every second he's home with fun activities to make up for all the family time lost without him. And I certainly don’t have to do all the things to let them know just how loved they are.

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5 Simple and Fast Recipes for When You Want Homemade but Don’t Have Time to Cook

The less planning we need to do during the season, the easier life is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how busy our week is, my kids insist they need dinner every night! I’ve yet to convince them a bowl of popcorn and some apple slices is a well-balanced meal, so instead I’ve learned to keep a few things stashed in the freezer to avoid the drive-thru as often as possible.

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4 Practical Ways to Avoid the Midseason Meltdown

I coined a term several years back; I’m not proud to say that the phrase “mid-season meltdown” came about because I noticed for myself that every October I hit a wall. A point of no return would reveal itself again where I just couldn’t tolerate one more team dinner, or one more date night that ended with watching film, or one more night feeling that all my hard work keeping the house organized was about the blow up by 10 am the next morning.

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