Football is the reason we’re brought together, to cheer on the game and its players, but it takes on life because of the surroundings—I am moved by the music, join in with the cheerleaders, become gracious in a win, remain respectful in a loss, join in the celebration of our school, and most of all, I also find imperfect people around me who are trying to grow a community.
The trouble we get into is thinking that where we “should” sit has anything to do with anything other than you and your family.
Your coach is out until at least 2:00 am every Friday night, and you don’t question it.
Yes, football and marriage are team sports. And for the team to get stronger and for the game to go well, each member needs their expectations set and then met. That's what makes a good team into a great one.
Let me be clear – we are not better off or more saddled than any other organization out there – football, dance, everything in this realm has its own ups and downs. We all deserve the spotlight, and I’m hoping this brings some support to the band family I have come to love very much. Have your team sit through a performance, I challenge them to go to a competition even. Learning how to respect your comrades is just as important as respecting your competition – it’s sportsmanship at its finest.
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.
Look, we’re all in this business together, and though we need support, we have to realize that everyone has different versions of it. Some people need to relate to others in the game; some find solace with friends who are far removed. I would rather spend my extra time with my family in one room, laughing and watching our kids wrestling each other, than plan a party that coaches and their families feel obligated to attend.
My husband left this morning at 5 am, and I don’t expect him back until 9:30 tonight.
It’s here. The season of long hours and long weeks, visits to practices and field houses, losing tupperware and losing utensils and losing my patience.
Football season is upon us, wives, but I have something to tell you.
You are more than just a coach’s wife.
It’s easy to feel like your very life is revolving around that one role of coach’s wife. Since, in his absence, you maintain the world he is leaving behind: the kids, the laundry, the bills, the house.
And in his presence, you participate in the world he’s bringing home: watching film, feeding players, supporting from the stands on what feels like every night of the week.
But you are more than just a coach’s wife.
That is not the title that defines you. Your identity is not found in it and your life is not completed by it.
You will read lots of articles in the coming weeks about the difficulty of being a coach’s wife. And you’ll be tempted to join into pity parties with other coach’s wives about never seeing your husband.
And it IS hard. And we ARE working overtime. And we ARE exhausted.
But we are not just coaches’ wives.
We are mothers, teachers, doctors, speech therapists, counselors, ministers, nurses.
And we are daughters of a Most High King.
A God who tells us we are working for Him and not for man. We are racing after a Heavenly reward, not an earthly one. We are cooking, cleaning, baking, supporting, bolstering, and sharing our lives with 100 teenage boys because we believe our lives are part of a greater calling, one that is not defined by wins or losses or even effort.
But by a loving, gracious God who gives us what we need in every season. Even football season.
He sees you and calls you by name. And he doesn’t call you Coach’s Wife.
He calls you Beloved.
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.