The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done for Our Family is Learn to Say “No”
The other day someone asked me why I added more to my already-crazy load during the season—room parent, PTA chair, volunteering in class, drop-offs, pick-ups, dance class, soccer, clubs, etc.
I used to think that the answer was simple. I chose this life, but my kids did not. This was the biggest factor for me in questioning if I could actually be a coach’s wife. I got used to doing things on my own and being told “I won’t be able to make it.”
But my heart would break when I thought about my kids having to get used to it, that their reality would be constant disappointment when coach couldn’t make it to their things. So, I’ve always tried to go above and beyond. Not because I wanted to be THAT mom who was so involved in her kids’ lives, like she has nothing better to do, but because I knew the feeling all too well that there will always be something more important that takes precedence to anything they do. I was constantly trying to make up for that.
I saw myself as the hero of our story and the coaching profession was the villain that prevented a lot of good things. I was putting so much pressure on myself, saying yes to too much, and hoping that the busyness of it all would disguise the real issue. But man, that way of thinking was exhausting. And I should probably admit that it led me to having more tantrums than my youngest, who is currently at the height of her terrible twos.
And luckily, we’ve been able to avoid this heartache in major areas so far. My kids are young and I’ve been able to limit their activities. But even something as seemingly insignificant as school drop-off/pick-up disappointment was enough to make me want to overcompensate for all the times coach won’t be able to show up for them.
However, the reality is that their dad is a coach who will have to miss a lot of their things. That won’t change, and I don’t want it to (at least most days) and neither do my kids. But my perspective could change, as well as the narrative I was telling myself.
I’ve come to value quality over quantity when Coach is around. Sometimes that means going to all the activities and fun things, but it also means that it’s okay to just take the time to stay home with no agenda and rest.
I’ve also had to let go of the guilt that comes with choosing this lifestyle. It is coach’s calling, and therefore it is mine. I accepted that a while ago, but I’ve finally come to the realization that this means it’s my children’s calling as well. They are coach’s kids, through the hard times as well as the fun times.
And 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.
Like everything else in life, it’s a work in progress. I still find there are times when the busyness disguise seems like a good idea, but I’ll take rested and balanced over exhausted and tantrums every time. For me and the kids.
Jess Gilardi is a lacrosse coach’s wife in the Baltimore area and has three kids, ages 6, 4, and 1. She was a mental health therapist in the school system before becoming the full time chaos coordinator for the family (a.k.a. stay at home mom). She does manage to fit in a little work here and there. Outside of lacrosse and family, she loves Jesus, the Tracy Anderson Method, and empowering others. You can follow her crazy adventures on social media: Instagram @jessgilardi and Facebook as Jessica Gilardi.