Every morning, on my way to work, I see this couple. It’s always around the same time, about 7:50am or so. They are an older couple, but not old. I assume they are retired. And they go for a walk together every single morning. But what caught my eye about these two was their earphones. They each wear their own pair. I imagine each set to their own preferred music station or talk show. They aren’t speaking. They are just walking together, with their head phones on, at the same time, everyday, while the rest of us whiz by with children and cups of coffee and phones to our ears and a million things to do on our agendas.
(Here is a picture I took of them with my phone the other day. It’s not great, but you get the idea…)
So what is it about this couple?
Well. They seem to me like some very obvious, probably overly romantic, analogy on marriage.
I think young couples, newly married or recently moved in, have these notions about how they should be. How they have to share every little thing. And when your loved one doesn’t like that song as much as you did, when your partner doesn’t find that TV show, that style of home, that idea of a weekend away as fantastic as you do… you question.
Are we meant to be after all? How can we be this different?
I am ten years into my marriage right now. And this couple seems to stand for everything I understand about relationships. And here’s where the far too obvious analogy comes in.
Forgive me if I seem kind of Yoda about this. Just take it for what it’s worth.
As long as you are both still walking down the same road together… as long as you both WANT to be walking down the same road together… as long as you make sure to keep walking down the same road together, every single day… as long as you keep going in that same direction, together, with positive momentum, you can each listen to any old damn radio station you want.
Same path, but room to BE.
Because same path doesn’t mean same everything else.
However same path means: hey that’s COOL she likes to listen to that other radio show. Respect for the other radio show even if you would never, ever listen to it. And if one chooses to take a different direction than you would prefer, let it go, stay with them, don’t keep score, at least you are still on that same path. And if he isn’t all that chatty while you’re on the path, chill out, he doesn’t feel like talking, but he’s still choosing to BE on that same path with you every single fracking morning.
Same path, different people.
Because you don’t want to lose who you are. You don’t want them to lose who they are. But you have to make it a priority to move forward together.
I told you this was practically cartoon frying pan over the head obvious.
But I would add one more thing about this whole same path, different radio station analogy. At the end of the day, take off your headphones, and check in with each other. Ask about the other person’s radio show. Find out if their favorite song came on. Listen. Really really try to care about the song, even if you kind of don’t. Focus on the give, not the take.
So. Ready to do this?
Because, you know: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Over thirteen years ago, I met a guy in a bar. Amongst crowds of friends and sticky table tops, he sipped his beer and smiled down at me. He was nice, I loved the way he said my name. And he was also the kind of tall, dark and yummy that had me at hello. He spent the evening listening to me over pitchers – both of us considering how we came to be where we were at 23 years old.
But he was also far too good to be true for someone I might find at a local college bar. So I didn’t expect much.
Still, I called him back a few days later. I wanted to see him again because I liked him. Because until the other shoe dropped revealing whatever it was that made him not so great after all – this was fun, this was good.
It was September and we were both living in western Massachusetts. He often met me at a local bus stop wearing frayed jeans and flip flops, fresh out of the shower. The fall air was sobering and the breath I expelled clouded my judgment. My heart raced, there he was.
On those nights, I’d jump into his old Chevy Lumina, the maroon plush interior covered in dog hair and McDonald’s wrappers. He played the alternative rock station loudly, gassed his car through stoplights and told me about his day. He was dreamy.
What was I doing?
Reckless and giddy, I had leapt off some sturdy ledge I had built for myself. And fell. This time I disregarded all common sense. He wasn’t going to be this great after all. He couldn’t possibly be.
But no matter.
I spent my days hoping to see him again and again, adrenaline charging through my heart, waiting to find the Lumina parked next to our bus stop.
I had no appetite. I couldn’t sleep. My voice hitched with every breath.
Sheryl Crowe sang on repeat behind counter tops, across college greens and in friends cars. “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”
It can’t be.
The fall leaves had never seemed so bright, so electric. With winter’s promise, they blew past my feet and the cold gasped life into my lungs. Caution had been whipped cleanly away, everything had changed.
And I paid no attention.
Because during those fall and winter months in 1996, I lost myself in our days and nights together, evenings at coffee shops and local bars, walks around town with his leashed dog urging us forward. This guy, this too good to be true person who clearly adored me for whatever I was, and who drove a beat up Lumina with athletic equipment strewn all over his backseat, had filled my soul and stripped me of any common sense.
Ten years ago today, I zipped myself into a white gown, adjusted my fingertip veil and walked down an enormous aisle towards this very guy. This guy I had met in a bar and who was not supposed to be as wonderful as he had seemed.
He was, in fact, that wonderful after all.
Common sense had disguised itself inside some possibility of fate. This was supposed to be. I had followed what I felt because I was meant to. And now, ten years later, there is a family. Two boys and a marriage. Alive. Amazing. As it should be. So very good and so very true.
Happy 10 years to the love of my life.
Love is anterior to life,
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath.
(Read at our wedding by my father, October 7th, 2000.)
Because how else would a blogger give a Valentine but through words, online, for all the world to see?
But I think it is about as close as I’ll get to any sort of rooftop where I can somehow yell (to all who might care to listen) that I adore my husband.
Because I do.
Because I think about who we were 13 years ago, when we first met, with all the time in the world to discover and adore the other’s idiosyncrasies. I think about how we find each other now, in fleeting moments, while caught up in the minutiae of our own groundhog days running parallel. I devour those moments and then wait. They always happen again, once the dust settles and the kids are put to bed. And then I think about us in days ahead, dizzy from time gone by, readjusting our identities as parents and partners.
You and I, we’re not tied to the ground
Not falling but rising, like rolling around
Joy is boiled down to it purest form on those days when we both have two bumping, leaping boys besides us. Days we make some variation of adventure happen on an hour long hike or a picnic at a playground. Our days at the beach, digging trenches and crunching sand in our potato chips. These are those days that we’ll hold tight, and retell, and laugh out loud about how our boys were ever that small and wanting and new.
Oh, and when the kids are old enough
We’re gonna teach them to fly
Someday it will be just us again. And we will come back together, without two cracker hungry children whining in between, and miss this painfully same everydayness. And look at each other like, “oh yeah, us.”
We can always look back on what we did
All those memories of you and me baby
But right now it’s you and me forever girl
And you know we could do better than anything that we did
I want to remember us from before and find all that wonderful novelty. I want to hold on to these regular moments before they fall away entirely revealing two young men eating everything in our refrigerator before vanishing into their own lives. I want to look forward to adventures that don’t require kids menus or car seats or getting back to our room by 8pm.
You and me together, we could do anything, Baby
You and me together, yes, yes.
What an incredible gift to share history with another, to share children with another, to share a future with another. I adore you husband of mine. And I can’t wait to spend a couple hours out alone tonight - time together – you and me, baby.
I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.
Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?
B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.
C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?
B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.
C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?
B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.
C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?
B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.
C: So how do you deal with that?
B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.
C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?
B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?
C(smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.
B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!
I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.
C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?
B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.
C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?
B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.
This is a post for parents. For mothers and fathers whose lives have done an entire 180 and have landed *splat* face down on the sidewalk since they have had children. After five years of parenting, I consider myself entirely too enlightened about one key factor: the you, the “you” you knew before your kids were left in a bundle on your doorstep, will become a scarce, mythical beast, read only about in fairy tales, lest you corner that old “you”, wrastle it to the ground and trap it in a place you can access on a daily basis.
What am I on about? Parents know. Its the days of wearing old t-shirts because your breasts are leaking constantly. Its cutting your hair because you are tired of having it yanked out a strand at a time. Its crushed crackers in a diaper bag, while all the cute bags slowly fade out of style in your closet. Its Friday nights asleep on the couch while a well intentioned DVD plays in the background. Its the groundhog days filled with time outs, thrown applesauce, nails down the chalk board screams, flushed toys and poopy diaper wrestling. It’s considering your annual trip to your OBGYN “a day out”. It’s never having a private moment in the bathroom. Ever.
Please. To all my brothers and sisters in the trenches of parenthood. Take a look around. When was the last time you went on a date with your partner? When was the last time you wore something ”dry clean only”? When was the last time you left the house without diapers, snacks, sippy cups, and an outift change? When was the last time you slept somewhere away from your children and then – gasp - allowed yourself to sleep in past 7am?
It is so very important to remember what makes you happy. Yes, yes. Your happy child makes you happy. So does 8pm when they are (God willing) in bed finally. But what makes YOU tick? Before kids. Did you like to read? (And I don’t mean board books.) Did you have a hobby? Did you see friends often? Did you exercise? Did you have actual leisure time?
Do you have any of that stuff now? No??? Go find it. Quick. Hire a sitter, even if it costs money. Figure out a girls night out. Have a friend take the kids for an afternoon. Check the guilt at the door and do something for YOURSELF.
Because if you don’t, you will truly lose yourself and your mind. You will forget who you are. You will actually forget what you truly LIKE to do. All of the sudden, ALL that you know about yourself is being… well… a parent. Take away the kids, and suddenly there is nothing left. Your identity is simply… a mom. Or a dad.
And it can happen so quickly. You’re there and then *POOF*, suddenly, you’re gone.
No disrespect of course. Being a parent is an incredible and, yes, noble job. It is an honorable identity to assume, and every parent should claim that title with pride. As my aunt always reminds me, parenting it the hardest job there is. Yeah, you bet your animal crackers it is. And THAT’S exactly why its so easy to loose yourself. There is so much to do while parenting that when you forget about the “you” stuff, the “kid” stuff seeps in and fills in all the cracks. There is always a sippy cup to fill, a puzzle to make, and a nose – or bum – to wipe. Just let someone else do it once in awhile, that’s all. It will still be there when you get back. No one will take the title of “mom” or “dad” away from you. Just be your first name, the name you had before “mom” or “dad”, once and awhile.
Have you still not shaken your parental guilt to consider more time for yourself? Don’t forget that when you are happier, you are a happier – and therefore better – parent. And then theres the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. When you take some time away, you do miss your kids. And upon your return, you and your partner will actually fight for the chance to change a poopy diaper. Seriously, it happens.
And I know the tough times of parenting are fleeting. I am betting my wiser readers who have been parents longer than I have are pleading to me “Oh but enjoy these tough days. Enjoy your child before he grows up. They will be gone in an instant!”
Sadly, I know that. And I fear that. Everyday I bring my 5 year old home from school and I hold him tight tight tight because I can literally feel his mind and body growing in my arms. But that is also my point. They DO grow up so damn fast. And then in an instant, they are off to college. Where does that leave you? If your child went to college today (forget that he or she is a 2 year old toddler) – who would you be right now? How would you identify yourself? What kind of fun would you have with your spouse? Do you know? You need to know. Think about it.
Now please do not assume I actually have this figured out. (Snort.) Honestly? I am writing this post while deeply in the trenches of an extraordinarily all consuming phase of parenting. My husband is just about to begin his season and that will require him to work six days a week, working as late as 10pm. But in the midst of this time, while I raise these wonderful but tough kids of mine and my husband works so that I can take care of these wonderful but tough kids of ours, I am trying to keep track of myself. For instance, I write when I have any time, from my home, with the kids here next to me. While multi-tasking this mommy stuff, I am hoping to piece together some clue so I can be a better (potentially paid) writer “when I grow up”. And I have started running. Insane, right? But I’m into it (I’ll even go before my husband leaves for work) and now dream of finding some way to have my kids watched so I can run a 5K.
Granted, I keep reminding myself to keep my expectations reasonable. Diaper changing, referreeing the rules of sharing and helping with homework is just what I do for now. But dreaming, and clinging stubbornly onto what truly makes me tick, does allow me to be more than just “Mom” - but “Caroline” too.
The picture posted above is of me with my boys. It was taken about a year and a half ago and might be titled “Me as Mommy”. It is one of my favorites as I am caught in a very typical, absolutely wonderful, however all consuming parenting moment.
I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.
There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play. They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.
I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.
However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach - she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.
In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned.
“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] – the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”
She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.
“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”
She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.
But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?
“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”
And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.
“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”
Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.
“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”
And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how. There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.
Forgive me as I state the oh so obvious, but this is very bad news for our country.
While we rejoice the fact that an African American man has become a United States President, there – sitting in the shadow of this wonderful moment - is hate, discrimination and fear. And so, a majority of people in these states voted that two people who love each other – who happened to be the same gender – do not deserve the same rights to marry as they do.
Gender. What the hell does it mean anyway? That I have to sit down to pee and my husband does not? That I have the physiology to make a baby and but my husband does not? Or that at Red Lobster, he goes into the “Bouys” room and I go into the “Gulls”? I mean, that’s it. Otherwise, we are as alike as any two people can be - with the same abundance of love for each other and our children, with the same abilities to think and reason, we catch the same germs when we get sick, we like to eat good food, and drink beer, and maybe he watches more football than I do but we BOTH watch Project Runway, for cripes sakes!
Now, my feminist tendancies are tapping my shoulder to remind me that men and women have not been treated the same since the dawn of man… er… people. (SEE?!?!) And gender is a very complex thing indeed (am wiping my brow remembering a Philosophy and Gender class I took in college). But, that’s not what I mean right now. I am talking about just the basics of gender. And that we are the same – except for some interesting bits of physiology. So, really, what it comes down to is that my husband and I – who love each other very much – are allowed to be married simply because he has twigs and berries, and I’ve gotta peach.
And so, depending on how we shuffle our twigs and berries and peaches, those with only the CORRECT assortment of said symbolic plant items can marry. Therefore, two people who love each other deeply but BOTH must use the”Bouys” room… well, call out the reinforcements and send lightening bolts down from the heavens – they absolutely CANNOT be married.
Folks think about it. When it comes to love and family, gender doesn’t mean anything. Love is love. And no one else should be allowed to tell me or anyone else who I can or can not love and marry.
Shoot, if all marriage boils down to is an assortment of the correct kinds of fruit, well then you may as well tell me that I couldn’t marry someone because he or she was shorter than I am. Or has a different shade of eye color. Or a different shade of skin than I do… (oh wait, we’ve done that one before).
Not allowing two human beings to marry – AND I DON’T CARE WHAT COMBINATION OF TWIGS, BERRIES AND PEACHES YOU’VE GOT – is discrimination people. It’s as simple as that.
So before I get any further stewed up and start hurling more fruit epithets your way, I will leave you with this. Please, PLEASE watch this special comment given by Keith Olbermann last night. He gets it so right for me and for all of us. Love is love people, and it’s simply a human right.
Do you ever call a best friend or favorite aunt or your mom and just chatter endlessly? Filling almost the entire hour conversation with everything you’re doing, what you’re thinking about and what you kids did this week? Never quite taking a moment to breath and allow the other person to get a word in edgewise?
Please tell me you do this, because I do this ALL the time.
And guess what? I consider you are all close friends of mine, so I am going yammer on here for a little bit. Inspired by my “always the link lover” friend Florinda at the 3 Rs, I want to share some links that have me thinking this week as well as just some stuff I like. I am warning you, it will be haphazard, one sided and excessively chatty. But you all don’t mind right? That’s whats friends do, at least what my wonderfully patient friends do, I guess.
First of all, Ike. Yup, the hurricane. It busted right through Texas last week, remember? I know all I saw were live garbled feeds of newscasters positioning themselves in the wind, doing their damnedest to get knocked over. (Is that like some sort of notch on a weather forecaster’s belt? To get blown over during a hurricane?) And then I saw some pretty insane damage being reported the following day. But then little by little, I haven’t heard much else thanks to our piss-poor economy and election updates.
How much disposable stuff do you go through? How many paper towels? How many grocery bags do you stuff in your closet or throw away? How many diapers do you use? How many wipes? The Crunchy Domestic Goddess is running a Ditch the Disposables Challenge for September and October. She is asking all of us to try and cut down on some of your disposable products. My goal is to not use paper towels or paper napkins but use cloth towels and sponges. (Shoot, its partially a selfish thing, paper towels are expensive!) Also I am desperately trying to keep using those cloth grocery bags. I think I am doing pretty well with it actually! They stay on my car front seat so I have them ready to go. Also, I am using my old plastic grocery bags as my trash bags and won’t buy actual trash bags either.
Can I just make one more plea for folks? Join the 29 Day Giving Challenge! It’s really been a lot more do-able than I expected. Plus, I am having fun trying to think up a new thing to give everyday. Often I have 2 or 3 things on my list!
Um, this is kind of an obvious one (but who am I to ignore the obvious). A veeery important election is coming up. Have you registered to vote? Do me a favor and please make sure you are registered.
Speaking of discrimination, do you know what I have been recently stressed out about? Racism in this election. I wonder why this election is so close when Obama seems like such a strong choice. I wonder if he were white, if the spread would be larger. I wonder if this country really wants change… or can change. I know there is a post coming about this in my future but read this post here from Momocrats about individuals out rightly admitting they would never vote for a “black”. (Shudder.)
So why should you really vote for Obama? In case you still need more convincing (and assuming race has nothing to do with your decision… please, tell me it doesn’t), the amazing Queen of Spain did a fab job this week of continuing to back Obama. Read about it here. Don’t know who Queen of Spain is? If you have been watching CNN recently during both the DNC and RNC, you’ve seen her. Shoot, here she is – just a mom blogger in her own right – interviewing Obama himself.
After posting about my son C. getting his doll, I read this article here from Motherhood Uncensored about her son playing with “girl” toys. I thought it was fantastic.
Oh and hey, did you know I am writing for Type A Moms now? I am their “Liberal Moms Editor”. Perfect, huh? Here’s the funny part, I am nervous about having a grown up EDITOR title and, as a result, I am having some major writer’s block for my next (and really first ACTUAL) post. I’ll come up with something - I have ideas of course, but nothing seems good enough quite right. I just need to get into the groove of it and gather some confidence, right? Wish me luck.
Finally, I want to list some fun stuff I just plain old really like.
My 5 year old T. and I have been reading these “From the Black Lagoon” books about different people he might meet at school. They are hysterical and I really recommend them for your children if they are just starting at a new school too!
My 2 yo C. and I have just started Music Together classes. He loves them and the music is fabulous (we truly enjoy the 2 CDs you are given when you sign up, one for the car and one for home). There is great teaching about children’s development for the parents and I honestly get a workout every Friday jumping, spinning, dancing, and marching with my kid. If you’ve got the time, I wholeheartedly recommend signing up for a class with your children in your area.
Need a good gift idea for someone or for Christmas coming up? Hyper-dashis a huge hit in my house. I bought it on a whim and both kids really love it. It really gives them a work out too! Yay for tired children more likely to nap…
We recently were given a subscription to High Five Magazine. What fun for my kids to get a magazine in the mail too! They read it cover to cover, T. loves the Spanish learning section in particular.
And another adorable book that I can’t get enough of? The Peace Book. LOVE IT.
Maybe you haven’t heard of the website Starfall? It is honestly the best letter and phonics learning website out there. And that’s not just my opinion. My teacher friends, my pediatrician and my speech pathologist aunt all heartily agree. T. likes to put it on with C., teaching him the ABC’s while playing fun songs and games. Its really terrific, they are on it right now.
Oh and I saw a pretty funny movie last night that I hadn’t even heard of. The Promotion. Great actors you (and esp. your husband) love to watch: Sean William Scott (aka Stiffler) and John C. Riley. And the story is just about regular guys trying to get ahead and take care of their families. I really enjoyed it!
My name is Caroline and I am a coach’s wife.That’s right, my husband is a head coach of a division II college lacrosse team. If you are familiar with coaching life, thank you for your sympathy and appreciation. If you are not as familiar but you love sports, you probably think my husband’s job is the coolest, smartest career move ever and why didn’t you think of that before getting stuck trading commodities. You commodity traders are right. It IS a reeeally cool job. He* is outdoors and away from the four walls of his office 75% of his day, he truly lives his sport in every sense of the word, he gets exercise just doing his job, he makes a significant difference in the lives of 40 college aged men and he is proud to admit that he does not own a suit.
But if you are considering changing professions to become a coach, you might need to know a couple things about life in the coaching fast lane. So, after 12 years of being on my husband’s sidelines, I am happy to share with you what I have learned about this very unique career choice.
·YES, coaching is absolutely a full time job. In fact, it is a job for about 3 or 4 men in my husband’s case.
·There is never a “down” time for coaches, whether the sport is “in season” or not.
·So, when he is not technically “in season”, what IS a coach doing?
oRecruiting: traveling to watch, meeting with or calling prospective players
oPlanning practices, viewing films of other teams playing and writing up scouting reports for his team
oCoaching fall ball (or “off season”) practices
oDoing one-on-one individual work with players which can often take an entire day.
oSpring break planning; that means shipping and handling 40 men plus coaches and trainers
oManaging scholarships and following up with a prospects college application
oCoaching and recruiting at lacrosse camps nationwide for weeks at a time
oTrouble shooting high maintenance parent issues
oTrouble shooting “diva, I need more playing time” players, “did something drunk and stupid” players and “soul searching, maybe I want to transfer” players.
oActing as guardian, advocate and disciplinarian to all 40 men
·Coaches have a uniform. It may not be a suit, but every shirt my husband wears has the schools colors and logo on it. (Never put those “breathable” coach shirts in the dryer however, it may just be grounds for divorce.)
·Coaches regularly work late nights (evening practices or games) and weekends (games or tournaments); days that he works 9 – 5 are few and far between.
·Coaches are always traveling: to games, recruiting tournaments, scouting other opposing teams, coaching at camps, you name it.
·Coach’s cars are perpetually foul. They are traveling locker rooms filled with stanky equipment, stacked orange cones, grass clippings and clumps of dirt, balls, clip boards, whistles, bunches of camp or college brochures, super stanky shoes and endless food wrappers and coffee cups.
·Coaches need a variety of athletic running shoes: mud shoes, nice recruiting shoes, practice shoes and shoes that match each coaching outfit.
·Coaches are highly affected by the elements being outdoors daily; they must invest in quality sunglasses, value sized bottles of sunscreen, and multiple hats. Coaches up North need every sort of cold weather gear possible.
·Coaches are kind of “into” coaching fashion and get very excited ordering new duds every year; my husband has a hankering for sweater vests and has deemed those “couture” coaching gear. Sure thing, hon.
·No matter how hard a coach works and fights for his team, the bottom line is his job performance is based on the team’s number of wins and losses.
·Coaches are “stand in” parents for each player: They go to the emergency room when a player’s arm is broken. They advocate on the player’s behalf during disputes with campus housing. They get the call at 1am from campus safety when something “bad” (usually involving alcohol) goes down. The coach is held responsible for their players in every way.
·Coaches often plan their families around their game schedule. My children were born (luckily) in late May and June for a reason.
·Coaches perpetually miss their families
·Coaches gossip. A lot. They are always in the “know” about open positions and then call other coaches and chatter endlessly about if this guy goes to that job, that position opens up then “so and so” might try for it but would never stand a chance… And then they all get online and see what the chat rooms are saying.
·Coaches obsess. All the time.
·Coaches are manic, but there is at least a predictable pattern:
WIN = “happy, rah-rah, even shaking hands with the refs, I love my job” coach
LOSS = “dark, brooding, seething, kicking the orange cones and throwing water coolers” coach.
·Coaches are psychologists: When do you yell at your team? When do you cajole? When do you pump them up? When do you scare them? When do you feed their egos? When do you let them cry? When do you kick them out of your office?
·Coaches are excellent public speakers; they have to inspire their teams before every practice, every game, at half time and after the game is over.
·Coaches lose their voices. A lot.
·Coaches don’t always sleep very well.
·Coaches can act. You will be amazed by a game of charades like you’ve never seen before when you watch a coach on the sidelines of a game. So that he isn’t penalized, a coach can tell a ref to put that last call in place where sun does not shine without saying one single word.
·Coaches are never happy with one win for longer than a day. One win is not good enough. A perfect season is good enough. Bottom line. Until then, work harder.
·Coaches don’t pursue this career to make money.
·Coaches are teachers, mentors and make tremendous differences in the men they work with everyday.
And finally, a little bit about my life as a coaches wife. As I write this, I am listening to a podcast of my husband’s team playing in North Carolina. They are up 3-2 and I want this win so badly, I can barely stand it. Of course I want a win for all the reasons anyone wants a win. But truly, I want a win simply so that he is happy. I want him to have that moment when he realizes his players really “got it” and he can feel like all of what I have listed above is really worth it. And during that immediate high after a win, I want him to grasp what a strong and successful leader he really is.
So now the commentators are reporting its half time. During the first half, his team came out excited and ready to play. But the second half they have fallen flat. One commentator just reported that he’s watching Coach run off the field to go speak with his team and he can only wonder what he has to say to get that team back in the game. My heart goes out to my husband at this very moment. So many people ask us both what coaches really do. And hopefully, this about sums it up. Are you thinking up how you’ll write that resignation letter yet? While you are still deciding, truthfully, I hope this stands as more of as testament to exactly what kind of strong, committed human being it takes to coach for a living – as he offers his players his time, his life, and his heart every day on that field. Go Lions.
* Of course there are plenty of coaches who are “shes”, but forgive me if I refer to coaches for the purpose of this post as “he” since the coach I know and love happens to be a fabulous “he”.