Tonight instead of sneaking in late to the game, I’m home with the little girl. She has a “Crick” in her neck. I thought this was creative southern slang, but as it turns out I looked it up and it is a real word. It just sounds very back-woods when I say it. There have been many crying spells today, and the little girl has been walking like a statue. Her grandmother ( aka Mennen) took care of her while I was at school, but now at game time the little one still isn’t feeling well. I know she is truly in pain since the girl loves school, and truly enjoys a good football game. She is her father’s child. She relaxes in The Coach’s favorite chair with an icepack on her neck, and watches cheesy shows on the Disney Channel.
The Coach is understanding. No, I won’t make it to the game. Fortunately we are on kid number 3. The Coach and I have been through many contagious sicknesses and minor mishaps in the 14 years that we have been parents. The oldest one nearly cut off his own finger while playing a vigorous game of hide and seek in the locker room when he was eight. He had to be taken to the emergency room that night.
The younger boy has managed to have minimal trauma other than nose bleeds, and bad colds. He once sprayed himself with citrus air freshener which burned his skin. He also overdosed on children’s Benadryl one Sunday morning before we had nursery duty at church. I had to call Poison Control. That was not one of our more stellar moments as parents.
My favorite memory of offspring affliction was when The Coach brought the boys back from an away game, and bought them late night donut milkshakes, knowing that the little girl and I were already at home with a raging stomach virus. In the middle of the night donut milkshake was sprayed- by means of projectile vomit- on curtains, rugs and bed spreads. Lesson learned!
I’m okay to be home caring for my sweet girl. I am an introvert. This means that I am okay with averting the crowd for tonight. I’m sad that I can’t be there to see the success of The Coach and his team, but sometimes I can use some downtime away from the football scene. Even though I feel terrible for the little girl, I use this quiet time to spend with her knowing she won’t be this little for much longer, and to catch my breath from the busyness and demands of the week.
It’s super hard for me at times to live in The Coach’s world. He ignites and thrives from the breathing and presence of thousands of people watching him do his job each week. I however, would love to slink into the shadows. I’m a creative, passionate and sensitive soul, and that’s who I am. The Coach is extroverted and loves social situations, large crowds of people, and massive amounts of music and noise, and that’s who he is. He thrives in chaos. *Saturday he heads to Bristol for The Battle of Bristol….the world’s largest college football game. I will not be joining him for the madness.
The Coach has helped me to be more warm and approachable, while I have helped him to be more reflective and contemplative… or at least I like to think I have. What I have found is that if I am going to be The Coach’s wife, I must allow myself to be who I am. The Coach is great at being “On” all the time. I am not. If my light is going to shine, I need some time in the dark to recharge.
It’s okay that I’m not at the game, we are winning by quite a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I feel guilty for not being there for The Coach. Tonight I miss the cheers from the crowd, the play calls from the sidelines, the thousands of insects flocking to the stadium lights. I miss seeing the kids who play ball on the field and run with reckless abandon after the game while dreaming of the day when they will run the touchdown or make the tackle, and I especially miss the other coaches’ wives who embrace me and my weirdness. Football season has an air to it that I adore, but the things I enjoy about football are not always the things other people even notice.
The Coach is getting to do what he loves regardless of whether I am there or not. That’s the way it should be. He calls during half time to check on his little girl. I tell him she’s feeling a bit better, and wish him good luck as we end our conversation and he heads back onto the field. It’s good to be there for each other in relationships and in a family. We can’t be so consumed with life’s expectations that we don’t stop to take a look at who may really need us, or what the real priority for the moment may be. I hope that someday when my kids grow up and have their own families they will recount that I wasn’t at every game, but I was there for the important moments when they needed me. I may have missed a game or two, but sometimes I was taking care of someone, maybe that someone was one of them, or perhaps that someone was me.