I sat in that gym while my husband played basketball with my favorite teenager for hours after practice. No talking, no crying, just turning all his emotions into jump shots and the world’s biggest hug when we took him home. That’s all he needed.
Resist the urge to fill every moment of dead week with picture perfect memories. Yes, these are the days that we cherish with Coach, but over planning can make dead week a chore.
It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.
I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.
From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.
I can hear my voice calling out to my son playing in the summer heat in the backyard way past his bedtime.
I can feel the rush of excitement when my stepson and stepdaughter run up the brick steps, fling open the front door at Thanksgiving Break, and call out to us, “we’re home!”
And I know because my family will feel at home here, that I will be just fine starting over too.
But as I begin to break down and cry out to my God, I’m reminded of this truth: I am not alone.
Don’t let anyone give you grief for doing what’s best for you.
The field house is home. I don’t know why we pay utility bills during the fall, because we are hardly home to use water and electricity. My husband puts more hours in at the field house than I see him in our own home.
I see you trying to figure out how to be the best employee and cheer your man on at the same time. It’s impossible to be in two places at the same time. Don’t feel guilty. You are doing the best you can.
Whatever conversation others may have with me in hopes I will share with my husband, will NEVER get to him! The coach’s spouse is often treated like a side door into the coach’s office. No, we don’t know what our husband is going to do about playing time. No, I don’t know our husband is going to handle your child missing practice. No, I don’t know why freshmen are playing more than the upperclassmen.
If God can weep for a friend, and set that as an example that wasn’t hidden or left out of the books … surely we can weep too. So I gave myself permission to grieve. I wept. If anything, it also gave my kids permission to feel their emotions too.
Hopefully, someday when they become a husband and a father, they will remember their old football coach who loved his wife and daughters with all he had.
I’ve come to the conclusion that coaches' wives who develop 4 characteristics—patience, perspective, perseverance, and peace—end up being able to walk through this life with a little more determination and ease.
My football coach husband turned to me and said, “How do you feel about being a coach’s wife?”
My whole family had been sick with a stomach bug. With four kids, this is the only thing they have shared with each other—and finally they shared it with me.
I went to work feeling exceptionally queasy and left my daughter home with Coach. I felt awful until I came to the cafeteria and they were serving chili dogs.
Maybe eating will help it pass.
And it did. This stomach bug is not so bad after all.
When I came home, I found my daughter had not been able to eat all day. And then I began to realize that I didn’t have the same kind of sickness as she did.
I was off to the drug store. Within minutes, I saw two pink lines (and shed a few tears). I broke the news to Coach.
I was pregnant.
Our lives were already full and happy with three rambunctious boys and one sweet and sassy girl. We thought our family was complete. To complicate things, Coach just accepted a new position one week before. We were making the move to a new state.
I was overwhelmed and although I knew that a baby should be a celebration—the timing was very bad. Then Coach asked the all-important question—“When’s the baby due?”
“October,” I replied.
His response was predictable. “DURING FOOTBALL SEASON?!?” I shrugged my shoulders. What could I do about it? This was not part of the plan.
So if you are facing something as beautifully unexpected as I did, here are some thoughts to help along the way.
Expect to go alone at times.
In my first pregnancy, Coach went with me to all the appointments. He was very involved with the process—appointments, ultrasounds and registries. But in spring, it was easy to work around his schedule. Things are different in season. I was 20 weeks along when we came to our new school. I found a new doctor and made every appointment alone. Every. Single. One. I drove Coach by the hospital a week before my due date. He met my doctor just before I delivered. He was largely disconnected to that part of my pregnancy. And I understood. I decided to make the most of it. I used the long drive to listen to my favorite playlists. I enjoyed the changing of the leaves. I treasured that time alone.
Expect to experience your community in a new way.
In the first weeks at our new school, it was difficult to connect with parents and players. A couple of sweet parents decided to welcome our baby in a special way—they threw a “tailgating” baby shower! It broke the ice in such a unique way as they willingly showered us with diapers and gift cards. Babies tend to bring people together.
Expect to make some plans around Coach’s schedule.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could anticipate exactly when baby will come? I imagined myself going into labor in the middle of a football game. I could visualize the scene: the cart would pick me up and drive me off the field. As they put me into the ambulance, I would give the thumbs up; and Coach would just keep on calling the plays. But that’s not how it went. I had a planned C-Section. Doc gave me a date and it was a Wednesday. It only took a minute to realize that it was the week of our cross-town rival. “No good,” I told her. “My husband’s a football coach. He says I should pick a Monday, and that week will not work.” She gave me a blank stare and put me down for the following Monday. She didn’t understand (most people don’t) and that’s ok. Coach was able to enjoy his newborn so much more when that game was out of the way.
Expect to take your newborn to a few games (if you want to).
Of all the “Baby’s Firsts” this one is my favorite. Most of my babies made their debut at the spring game. But a baby born in season would be more like a new team mascot. She was two weeks old at her first game. I was still dealing with a handful of postpartum issues, but I bundled her up on that chilly night and truly enjoyed the game. She was no trouble—everyone wanted to hold her and she slept through everything. Weeks later, I was holding her as I ran 40 yards down the sideline to see the game winning touchdown of the championship game. So add a onesie in team colors to your registry or find something perfect for baby here, and go to the game! But if you decide it’s too much, don’t feel guilty! You’re the mom.
Expect your life to be imperfect and messy and beautiful.
There will be late nights, early mornings, cluster feedings, tears, hormones, and laundry. So. Much. Laundry. Some days you will be so happy and others you will be so overwhelmed. Ask for help. Reach out to your tribe. Or head on over to Friday Night Wives for advice. Please hear me—we know and we understand. You will adjust to your new normal.
Remember this—God has already had this in his perfect plan for you. Psalm 18:30 and 32 say, “As for God, his way is perfect…and (he) maketh my way perfect.” Whether or not you expected this—God did. So lean on your community, love your Coach, and trust God.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 3, 2020, and has been updated in February 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.
You’ll miss the squeak of your sneakers on the court, the way your practice jersey smells by Wednesday, the unique taste of your sweat from the free-throw line. You’ll miss the bus rides and the gas station snacks, team dinners and locker room banter.
I am not just a coach's wife and that's okay. I'm allowed to be selfish and think about myself and my other identities. I'm a wife, a daughter, a friend, an educator, an advocate, and a fur mom.
The behind the scenes is where the nitty-gritty happens. The stuff no one sees is what really matters and the reason these men and women who are coaches do what they do.
You see her at every game. She’s usually the one with all the kids, and the stuff, and dragging in right at kickoff because something always seems to happen on Friday evening right when she needs to leave.
My coach’s wife story is one of consistently never being where I wanted or thought I should be, but always being where I needed to be. After 16 years in the coaching life, I can 100% guarantee that the "what ifs" aren’t worth anything.
When you graduate college—send us that announcement so we can send a gift.
When you get married—send us an invitation so we can be right behind your Momma, crying with her when we see your face light up as you see your bride walk down the aisle.