Inner Strength and Training Camp

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If football season is anywhere on your radar, you’re probably glued to ESPN or NFL Network looking for your team’s updates. The guys have been there for two weeks, they’re in the heat of full-contact drills, 3-inch deep playbooks, losing 7 pounds of sweat in an afternoon, and ice baths. They’re e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If my coaches’ and player’s wives will allow me, I’d like to share a word of encouragement:

I do ‘alone’ well. Really well. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and certainly don’t prefer it, but I can absolutely function and thrive alone. In some ways, I think I’ve always been prepared for this role ~ always fairly independent, I’ve been able to handle just about anything our football circumstances threw at me.

In the early years of our marriage, Mike was about 85% focused on football all year long; I referred to it as having his helmet on. He couldn’t really see much beyond the game, so the trajectory of my life was to handle just about anything not related to the gridiron. Back in the day, before cell phones, the Chicago Bears packed up and headed to Wisconsin for a full 6 weeks. Visits from home weren’t highly recommended in the beginning, so I spoke to him by phone once or twice a day. With toddlers and babies, you can imagine a lot can happen between those spread out phone calls, and when we did talk, I didn’t want to rattle off a list of complaints. When our conversations seemed as though he was available for a few minutes longer, I attempted to delve into some of the issues I was facing, to which he’d inevitably cut in, ‘oh sweetie, I have to run! I’m so sorry…the next meeting is starting. But save that story for later; I want to hear it. I really do!’ After about the second time that happened, I decided not to even bring anything up anymore.

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Being fully transparent, I slowly convinced myself he cared so much more about football than he did for his family. 

How wrong I was. He cared. His heart ached that he wasn’t able to help out. It was all he could do not to hop in the car and drive the 3 hours back home to handle things. So can I offer a new perspective for you ladies at home? Use your network, enlist the help of every family member or friend who offers, share the opportunity with other wives on the team, but free yourself up to encourage your man. Training camp is an every-man-for-himself kind of deal, and they are juggling a planet-sized bag of emotions. Arm yourself with strength, and in the process you’ll grow a whole bunch and even be able to offer him some. But never even tiptoe in the waters of ‘you don’t care,’ or ‘I can’t handle this,’ or ‘why don’t you just quit?’ It’s a slippery slope that doesn’t end well.

You’ll never regret the positive, affirming words you speak. You’ll never have to toss and turn at night wishing you could have handled a situation better. Allow him to focus all of his energies on making the team, nursing the soreness, and learning the playbook. Be the positive diversion he needs at the end of the most difficult days of training camp. You’ll look back and barely recognize your strong new self!

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