As my husband and I pushed through a sea of people at one of the Super Bowl parties in downtown San Francisco, he bent over and whispered in my ear, "It's feeding season here for the single guys." I wasn't sure if I detected a hint of envy in his comment (ha ha) or if he was just making an observation as he looked over to one of the spotlights in the upcoming NFL Combine. I looked around to see the stereotypical scene of an athlete surrounded by the eye roll-worthy species...jersey chasers.
I don't consider myself naïve to the fact that more than a few women desire a man with status and money. But for some reason I'm always appalled when I see it unfold in real life. Especially because every NFL wife I've met is the complete opposite. They weren't looking for a handout when they met their now- husband. A lot of us didn't pick this life because we didn't know professional football was up next. Most of us met a struggling, college student who couldn't afford a dinner at Applebee's.
During our five seasons in the NFL, I have met quite a few football wives. Not ONCE have I met a woman that wanted to sit at home and look pretty, or who got pregnant to be "set for life." They all have their careers, passions, foundations, businesses, and families. All of them, including myself, struggle with identity issues and feeling unaccomplished when careers are put on hold. I've never met such a driven group that "doesn't need to work."
Yes, we have money. But with this life comes so much more than financial freedom.
Being with an athlete has relocated most of us across-country— separating us from all our friends and family. Entire seasons in Extended Stay hotels is our norm. We don't get to hang pictures or buy décor for our temporary space because we don't know when we'll leave. We are the moving company every time our husband is released and immediately leaves for the next state. We keep a lot of our belongings in boxes. Some of us have moved to three different teams in one season. We make best friends only to be torn away from them within seconds of roster changes; some veteran wives don't even bother making new friends because of this sad reality.
Forget about any sense of support for your wants and needs. Oh, you're expecting during season or just broke your leg while the team is at an away game? You better pull out your phone and request an Uber to the hospital (If you don't know me, I'm obviously exaggerating but you get the point).
We deal with the rollercoaster of stresses our husbands experience each season. We struggle with an 'in-season' and 'off-season' husband— a struggle only Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde's wife knows.
I think girls actively seeking out an athlete envision the typical trophy wife enjoying her $30 salad while complaining to her friend how her contractor used eggshell instead of creamed coffee in the master bedroom. But I've never had a salad equivalent to a pair of shoes, and I just had to google a paint color similar to eggshell.
While I stand and witness women that think this life is what they want, I can't help but wish they knew what they're really getting into. Our lives are filled with: uncertainty, stress, yearly moves, injuries, job insecurity, and isolation.
Most of us wouldn't change it for the world, but we wouldn't choose it for our family either.