The wives of coaches endure many hardships so their husbands can follow their dreams of collegiate coaching. The isolation is one of the toughest hardships that you encounter. You are stuck in a new town with no friends or family. There is not one familiar face around you for miles. No one to hang out with and no one to call if you are in a bind. I will not lie there were many times that I was resentful of Derek especially when he was recruiting – staying in nice hotels, eating out, going to the bathroom in peace, talking to adults. It was also particularly painful when he was recruiting or had games in towns where we used to live in or had family in. He would say, “I saw your parents and brother after the game” or “I went out to eat with our old neighbors last night.” I was home alone many times taking care of our three young kids feeling so detached from the “real world” because my world consisted of diapers, nap time, feedings, bathing, playgrounds, Candyland, and whining. Then to hear him talk about airports, hotels, college friends, and family members was like sticking the knife in even further after knowing what I have sacrificed for him. I know he didn’t mean it and I am sure he doesn’t know how it made me feel but there is no way to explain to anyone what this life is like until you live it. He doesn’t understand the freedom he has to get up and go anywhere at any time. He doesn’t have to worry about who is taking care of his kids every day. He doesn’t need to worry about the 3 loads of dirty laundry piled up because it is always done and folded. He doesn’t have to worry about what is for dinner and do we have groceries. He doesn’t have to worry about how his kids are going to get to their activities because it is already done. And my biggest fear, he never has to worry about being alone in a new town with three small children and car problems. That was always my worst nightmare – a broken down car. It is one thing to feel trapped in an unknown town but to be actually trapped is another. If the car broke down while he was on the road I was screwed. I had no one to call to come get me and the kids. If the car had to be in the shop for a few days I had no one’s car to borrow to cart my kids around. I was at the mercy of others. I would get jealous when my parents told me that my brother or sister borrowed their car for a few days while their car was in the shop. I am sure they have no concept of what a luxury it is to know that if they were ever in need someone was only ten minutes away. What a sense of security that must be. People who live close to their family take that for granted every day. My husband never had to worry about any of those things because I was always there. I remember when one of his high school friend’s father died and he was able to hop on a plane and attend the funeral with no second thoughts. It had meant so much to his friend that he was able to attend. What would happen if one of my friend’s parents died? I would not be able to just hop on a plane in a day’s notice. I would had to have my mom fly in town (which cost a lot of money) to watch the kids. It would be a logistical financial nightmare and I probably would just send a card and not go. I would not be able to offer the same support to my friend like he was able to offer his friend.
When you first move to a new town it is easy to get sucked into seclusion but you can’t sit around all day having a pity party. You have to try and get out and meet new people. Meeting friends when you are a kid is easy. It just happens for kids. But, trying to make friends as an adult is work. When you are a stay-at-home mom and you move to a new city you are an outsider. You are an outsider trying to pry open the inner circles of the all-ready formed cliques. It can be brutal. You hang out (stalk) the McDonald’s Play land at noon searching for other mothers. You roam around your neighborhood asking, “Will someone be my friend?”
When you have small children, finding friends in a new town is somewhat like dating. You set up “play dates” for your kids hoping that you will hit it off with one of the mothers. I have spent countless hours sitting with people with whom I have nothing in common and talking about the most mundane things all for the hope of finding that one friend I can “date”. I married a coach, I played collegiate athletics, I am a tom boy so it is pretty slim pickings finding a friend who is familiar with SportsCenter, works out every day, and would prefer a nice pair of comfy sweats to a sundress from Macys. When you have three small children, time to yourself becomes a precious commodity and I didn’t want to spend it with people with whom I had nothing in common so I did spend a lot of time alone.