Confession time: it’s mid-June and I’m already nervous about preseason camp. This is year nineteen of football seasons, seventeen of them married, but only our second with this current team and a LOT has changed since November. All the usual changes and team members are present, but there are changes on the home front as well.
Our youngest is starting sixth grade meaning both boys are in middle school and the same youth group. My job has increased in hours and responsibilities, and we’re also going to have two fall sports going for the first time ever. Our youngest is playing fall soccer so we’ll be on the football field Friday nights and the soccer field Saturdays with practices in between.
Just typing all this out has my stomach doing flips. I’m excited about the season, I’m thrilled to have my boys doing so many of the same things after years of being on different schedules, but I’m also wondering if I’ll really be able to balance everything I’m adding to the calendar.
The emotional roller coaster of preseason camp doesn’t end with plotting out calendar commitments. I’m equally excited and dreading that first parent meeting of the season. I’m eager to get back on the sidelines and take photos, but I’m also not ready to hear the “fans” in the stands. We also need to get through weeks of camp before games start, and practice has already started so summer now runs straight into the fall.
Each summer date, whether wandering the farmer’s market or sharing a meal at another new-to-us restaurant is already filled with football talk. Don’t get me wrong, I want to hear about practice and new schemes and fundraisers, but each conversation also reminds me preseason camp is coming and the emotional rollercoaster begins again.
On good days I enjoy the ride, on bad days I find myself anticipating the upcoming drop while stifling a scream. Either way, my default attempt at controlling my emotions is to plan and prepare. Freezer meals, in-season menus, purging the closets, and organizing like.a.boss. Here’s the thing, no amount of preparation will change the fact that we’ll have hard days from August through November where we’ll let our exhaustion get the best of us a time or two.
Before I send us all into a tailspin, let’s regroup. Because for every situation that makes me nervous, there is a multitude of amazing ones. Excitement, anticipation, and joy all fill my heart when I think of our team. It’s not a reflex, it’s years of experiences rush to my memory. There is so much fun to be had in the fall!
What I choose to dwell on will dominate my thoughts, emotions, and responses. So instead of hopping on the roller coaster of preseason camp, I journal, I take a walk, I grab coffee with a girlfriend, and I talk about only positive things.
When our sons were young, preseason camp meant days of eating in the dining commons then putting littles to sleep alone – again – followed by collapsing into bed exhausted. Now that part of life has passed, but the exhaustion is still present when I forget I cannot be all things to all people.
Somewhere along the way I started adding everything Coach had to miss to my own responsibility list. No wonder my stomach does flip flops as preseason approaches! There is only so much one girl can handle and stress has a muscle memory of its own.
Self-awareness prompts self-care. So now, a bath or pedicure are worked into the calendar. Instead of volunteering for one more thing, that shopping trip I’ve put off finds its way into the half-day off I created by working ahead on a project. Coffee trips with girlfriends are scheduled more frequently and coffee is sipped more slowly.
Dates are still a priority. Saturday morning dates at the farmer’s market require waking up a little sooner, but that’s ok, because that way we get the best produce and the line for donuts is shorter.
So here’s the thing, Sister. That rollercoaster of emotions? We get to choose whether we’ll hop on or exchange our tickets for a ride that doesn’t leave us green with motion sickness.
So, this year I’m choosing to enjoy each day without the anticipation of the terrifying drop at the end. I hope you’ll join me, I think we’ll all enjoy the ride a lot more that way.