I drove away from the fieldhouse today with wails from my toddler only wanting to play with his Daddy. He doesn’t understand why he can’t play ball with the big boys on the field. He doesn’t understand why Daddy isn’t home for goodnight kisses anymore. He doesn’t understand on Friday nights why he can’t run out on the field and play. And he doesn’t understand that it’s simply football season, and soon enough, Daddy will be back home.
During the season we take the time we can get. So, today that meant going to the school to hangout in the classroom with our Coach for 40 minutes. That’s the most my son has seen of his Daddy in three days. When he walked us outside and put him back in his carseat, the cries immediately started. Cries that “Daddy time” was over and cries from Daddy, that he was going to miss another bedtime. Then came the cries from me, tears representing the sadness for my son, tears of missing my husband, tears of resentment that I’m stuck dealing with it all.
You see, for football families, football isn’t “just a game”. Our husbands don’t just practically live at the fieldhouse because it’s fun (although, admittedly, sometimes they do). It’s our livelihood and it’s a complex game, that believe it or not, takes substantial planning time.
Have a losing season and you could lose an income, and for a lot of families that means losing ALL their income. Coaches’ wives have the distinct pleasure of moving to new cities every few years or so, and with that comes the distinct disadvantage of job longevity. Unless she can score a work-from-home job, it’s often times very hard to find a new job in a new city when her resume shows multiple jobs in multiple cities all over the US.
So, after a loss, when you think by Saturday afternoon the coach should have “shaken if off” by then, it’s not really that simple. That loss could be the final nail in the coffin; that loss could be a sign that they’ll soon be packing up their belongings and moving to a new city. Coaches are judged by the win – loss column.
Maybe you’re the friend who doesn’t understand why I was short on the phone last week after the team had a bad practice, or maybe you’re the family member who said, “Oh, well, my goodness can’t he just come home a little earlier?” and I angrily said “What?? No!” Maybe you’re just a fan and don’t understand why I’m writing about how challenging the season is.
But this is why. Our life literally depends on if we win or lose on Friday nights. No matter how comfortable we are, there is still a level of uncertainty for what the next week, month, or season will bring. There is no “tenure” for a football coach, and for those coaches who hope to continue to climb the ranks, it takes far more W’s in their column, and that takes time. Time that is taken away from his family to work tirelessly for 5+ months to do all he can to add up the wins, and build character in young men.
So, today we found 40 minutes. 40 minutes to just be a family and not worry about football. 40 minutes to soak up hugs, kisses, and highlights of the week that Daddy has missed. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have longer, but then again, we could miss him altogether.
What I do know is there will be many more days filled with tears as we drive away from the field. There will be many more missed moments and milestones that have to be sent to our coach via video. And there will be more days where 40 minutes is all we can get.
But there will be many more highs too. Highs of watching the team win, highs of holding up a gold ball at the end of the season, highs of seeing a D average player sink his mind into his academics and graduate with an A average all because our Coach worked tirelessly with him, highs of watching our coach advance his career, highs of new friendships in our football family, and highs of watching my son become a water boy for his Daddy when he’s old enough.
And those highs, well those are the ones that make the 40 short minutes today and the tears that followed worth it today and every day.