It’s 5:30pm, and football season has started. My twenty month old has been gnawing at my ankles since before sunrise, my four year old has required a three-ring circus since arriving home from preschool at noon, and my older boys have been violently resisting their homework for hours. Typically, this is the time of day that I can tap my co-parenter in, providing a little energy refresher for all. Usually, the minute his car pulls into the driveway I breathe a sigh of relief, my tense body relaxing a bit, knowing I can demote myself to understudy for an hour or two and regain my footing. But tonight I will be at it alone — depleted, frustrated, and exhausted — because my husband is a football coach.
And he’s not just any coach, he’s an all-in, over-excited, buy a whole new wardrobe of only team colors kinda coach. The kind that takes this third and fourth grade town team as seriously as Nick Saban takes the Alabama Crimson Tide. He adores the sport, the kids, the drills, and the planning so it is full coaching boner all fall over at our house. And while I appreciate his enthusiasm and adoration for volunteering and molding the young people of America, I am really tired.
Logistically, it adds a level of complexity to everything. Coaches arrive early and leave late from practices and games so in-person commitment increases instantly. And with multiple kids enrolled in seasonal activities, taking half of the family chauffeur service out of commission can be problematic. It also creates an unbelievable accumulation of stuff. I have a hard enough time keeping track of and storing my kids' uniforms and equipment — add a couple collared shirts, a pair of good luck pants, and an arsenal of clipboards to the mix and my basement is now one big dirty gym locker.
And games are hard. Other parents tag team their family sideline crazy — corralling siblings, passing out snacks, and managing arguments — but I am doing that alone. So while my peripheral vision is often above average, it leaves me pretty incapable of watching a game. I follow along with the cheers and sighs of the crowd, pretending to have an idea of what is going on, but in the absence of a big, exciting, obvious ninety yard touchdown run (which my lineman son wouldn’t likely be the star of anyway) I am basically missing the whole game. And while I admit that I sometimes enjoy the distraction of my chaos since the parent sports sideline circus is not my jam, I would like the luxury of thoughtfully watching at least a few of my dude’s plays.
Oh, and the at-home brainstorming and prep is really something too. As someone who usually keeps an overly healthy distance from his phone, my guy is on the horn 24/7 in the fall breaking down film and discussing strategy with his co-coaches who are now very close friends. It’s early mornings and late nights designing reward stickers for helmets, highlighting game notes, and turning pool noodles into practice props. A lesser woman might suggest he take some of this enthusiasm and energy and use it to refinish the back deck — but not I.
Because at the end of the day, I (begrudgingly) know it’s worth it. Mostly because with four little kids and a full time job my husband has little to no time for outlets, so this has become his. He runs around laughing and joking with the other coaches, filling his psychical and social buckets both at once. And in a life category that I find absurd and insane — youth sports — he is the level-headed, kind-hearted leader I need for my boys and their friends.
So, here I am. An incredible martyr of a mother, who sacrifices her sanity and selflessly throws her co-parent into the huddle for the betterment of our youth. I’m kidding. But still — I’m tired! And I am already planning my post-season vacation.
Samm Davidson is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.