It’s starting. Football season. Honestly, its been a tough year in general. I gave birth to a baby with some special needs, these are temporary — short term problems, but problems nonetheless and I’ve all of the sudden become aware of how very short my patience/understanding/give a care/fuse is these days. Now, it has arrived, camp is ramping up and I’m here tra-la-la-ing like it isn’t happening. I think my mind had blocked me from the awareness in order to save me from the impending nervous breakdown over the realization that I’m back to “mostly single mom” status. Coach is about to vanish for good……

I’ve felt it creeping up. It’s like a movie scene. Me and coach are just laughing, enjoying outside somewhere, maybe where we just ate dinner. We are trying to decide something important when all of the sudden he becomes grainy, maybe glitchy, and slowly just fades away leaving nothing but wisps of smoke. Cut to me just mesmerized by the smoke, bewildered. It’s going to happen this way. I’ll be so shocked into reality I’m just playing with the swirling wispy smoke like he’s still there. WAKE UP WOMAN. He had the keys in his pocket, he just was about to tell you his plan for something huge and left you hanging mid sentence. Seriously, WHY, Why, why didn’t I grab him and hold tight? Maybe we could have vanished together? Nope, I’m playing with wisps like a kid with bubbles. “Aren’t these curious?” I guess it could be worse, I could have abandonment issues.

It’s going to be sad. I’m going to be a sad mess. Some of our sisters are already facing this moment of “what the…” and are working hard to wade through the emotional knots they have to straighten out to feel normal again. Me? I’ve been dealing with it in different arenas off and on all year so I’m not surprised at my mental, vocal, emotional, and physical response to the stress these moments induce. I just haven’t gotten to those knots. Pushing through, taking time to clear up or face the problem is my next step toward recovery — or something like that.

The one thing that makes it so hard is the whole pressure we get from the outside world (mommy pressure for those wives with kids, modern woman who can do-it-all pressure for all of us). I’m already trying to measure up to this standard that is more like a triple standard that is unattainable and always ends in me being a failure. Couple that with no backup, no home team support on a schedule that accommodates the family life, and enter the “toddler dictators” — as a fellow wife on Facebook coined them — and you’ve got yourself a full blown nut house on your hands. By the end of the first month everyone in the house has gone crazy and we aren’t even past the season opener.

While I’m painting myself as this mentally unstable, emotionally volatile, dependent mess, I promise I can still be encouraging. Because, you see, I know I’m a little crazy. Stay with me. I’ve been here before, and while it can look different every year it all plays out the same. I’m able to understand the insanity, combat it, and move on to the next challenge (my problem is I procrastinate and can’t get started.)

One way I survive what I call the “Re-Entry” period (n: beginning a new routine. Can occur at beginning and end of season, recruiting, or summer) is planning. We ALWAYS have to figure out how this is going to work. Solo planning is best. He can’t come to everything so plan like he can’t come to anything and be open to him crashing. It’ll be a pleasant surprise, even if you have to share the thanksgiving dinner plate you purchased with him at your kids school program.

Surviving re-entry also requires time for personal care on my part. I need to recharge in some way. Getting a sitter and just hitting up a coffee shop, going to the mall/Target/bookstore, going out with friends or alone can give you the time you need. I heard a girl on a podcast say that because she works from inside the home and has her family to care for, her husband will come home at around 6 pm instead of his normal 5:30 pm and she hits the door running to have her “night off.” I laughed at the thought — then cried because I hadn’t heard this genius idea at the beginning of the summer!

Being plugged into the community in a variety of ways can always soften the blow to losing your spouse to the “mistress” we call football (or insert your sport here). Churches have at least one night a week they have activities. Some gyms provide childcare for members. Playdates can help break up the monotony and give your tiny tyrants something to do besides climb you like a ladder and whine about being bored and hungry and tired and not tired simultaneously. Hitting up local libraries, parks, playgrounds all provide something to do with those kids and maybe other adults you know can come too! Maybe for those without kids it means doing a book club, Bible study, sips and strokes night, just anything to get out into a group setting.

Last advice, splurge. Just DO IT. Get a sitter when you are doing something alone. Get a housekeeper or yard man, they can swipe many things off your plate, hire a nanny or go to moms day out a day or two a week. Whatever you need to do to keep your sanity and free up time and space in your life to preserve mental and emotional health, do it.

Being mentally drained is hard on you and hard on those around you. Start that personal care time with a small exercise of just finding things to be thankful for in that moment alone — I get to enjoy games, I’m allowed to see practice and have my kids in the office, I get an insta-sorority with my fellow coaches wives, my kids look so cute in gameday gear, oooh I need to go shopping for gameday gear, and the biggest one: we have a job, so so very thankful. These all help me go from resentful for the role of coach’s wife to excited about the season and looking forward to being able to show my husband support in a way not many other women can do? I mean I’m literally a 35 year old cheerleader y’all! ( I just wish I had that body back and didn’t pee on myself while yelling too hard or jumping up and down after a touchdown — did I share too much?)

If you have time, pick up “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker and at least read the first chapter about what to keep ‘on your beam’. We only have so much space in our lives for things that it’s as narrow as a balance beam. There just isn’t room for everything so we have to say, “no” at some point to something that wasn’t a “Hell Yes” in our lives. If it isn’t a “Hell Yes” it’s off the beam. Read chapter one and then just keep reading, you’ll thank me.

It’s starting, the season is here, we can’t stop it, let us go with the flow (even if it moves like a freight train) find ways to say no, grab on to our “Hell Yes-es”, and find ways to survive and untie those knots and move through each challenge one at a time. I mean, we always make it through anyway right?