The Basketball Bubble, aka the Lonely Life of an Overseas Basketball Wife
As I sat down for dinner at 1am this past Monday, I was conflicted as to how I should feel at that moment. I was happy for the silence, but I was exhausted, and pretty pissed at the very fact that I was eating dinner at 1am. My older three had a physical fitness performance at school that evening, so the day was long, and filled with all types of errands. The night was even longer, and we didn’t return home until after 11pm, with baths and the whole routine still to be had. While the day was a particularly tough one, it was practically a repeat of a few days prior, when my pre schooler had the same physical fitness performance. We were home after 11pm and it ended with me eating alone, well past 1am.
The weekend was spent cleaning, doing school work, basketball practice, and refereeing the endless fights among the kids. My kids have been especially mean to each other lately and I’m a sensitive soul, so it breaks my heart to see my children mistreating each other. I was angry and I yelled, then I was sad and I cried. It was like we had all reached the limit of how much I could handle on my own.
So when Monday rolled around, with school and more performances in store, I can’t say that I was rested and ready for the week. Fast forward a few days to today. It’s now Thursday, and none of the kids had school, yet they thought it would be a good idea to have another performance, complete with props and costumes, and this time just for my 6 yr old, and at 8:30 in the morning! To say that I’ve been one step away from a breakdown all week would be an understatement.
I’m a pretty strong person, and it’s rare that I ever feel so overwhelmed. I’ve lived in multiple states, away from home, since I was 14 years old. I worked hard in school, on the track, at restaurants, bars, offices, even a call center when I needed to. I’ve always felt like I could do anything I put my mind to, and that I can do it on my own and without help. I’ve come to learn that that’s just not true anymore.
As independent as I am, and as much as my husband calls me super woman, I just know that I’m a better person when he’s here with me. I’m happier, I’m sillier, I’m more efficient, and perhaps most importantly, I’m more patient. I’m the best version of myself. It’s probably why I married him in the first place. So had he been here, they still would have been awful to each other, but I would have had someone to play good cop-bad cop with, and I would have been able to leave the house and take a break from the chaos.
But he’s not here. He’s on day 10 of a 14 day road trip, the longest road trip in all of my years overseas. I usually enjoy a day or two alone. I catch up on episodes of Law and Order and The Big Bang Theory, I give myself a mani-pedi, and I don’t even bother shaving my legs. It’s some nice me-time. This trip, however, is all the way extra. They were supposed to play two games here in Northern Argentina for the first round of the playoffs, and then travel to Paraguay for the second round of the Liga Sudamerica championships. They ended up winning both playoff games so they just learned that they would be playing the second round of the playoffs this weekend. So instead of coming home today, their road trip would be extended by 4 days.
I’m normally pretty happy and content, and I’m fully aware that I lead a blessed life, but this shit is ridiculous.
I know that everything is relative, and I know that there are wives in the military that can go a year or more without seeing their partners, so I know that it’s no comparison. But this life is all I know, and it’s a unique one, where I spend more time with my husband than I ever thought I would.
In the basketball world there are no 9-5’s. There are early mornings, lazy afternoons, and late nights. I may sometimes want him to be more involved, but he is pretty much always here. By the time the kids are home from school at 12:30pm, he is soon to follow from morning practice. He relaxes and eats lunch, before taking a nap/siesta, while the children and I have our afternoon lessons. He wakes up and has a snack, while I either go for a run or hit the supermarket, or both. Then he heads to evening practice, I make dinner, bathe the kids, etc., and we eat dinner together once he’s back, at around 9:30pm or 10pm (8pm or 8:30pm if I make separate meals). Once the kids are in bed, we stay up far later than we should; but like most parents, it’s the only time we have to ourselves, and adult conversation is a welcome respite when I’ve been talking to kids all day.
This is our normal. I still feel stressed at times, because staying at home with 4 kids in a foreign land is a lot, but there is a balance. I’m still the one taking the kids to school in the morning, picking them up a few hours later, homeschooling, cooking the meals, and cleaning the house; but he’s also running errands, walking the dog, and doing the laundry. Knowing that he’s never gone for more than a few hours at a time, or that I can make an emergency call for capers or chicken stock on his way home, brings me comfort and makes me feel like we are a unit. If I were back in New York, I would have my family and friends to help, and food delivery, and Amazon, and pretty much everything else I needed, but here it’s just me and him, raising our kids the best way we know how to.
It’s almost like we live in our very own basketball bubble. It’s the same bubble most of the overseas WAGS I know live in, regardless of country or team, and it isn’t always easy. I’ve said it before, but this life isn’t for everyone. There are language barriers, cultural differences, educational challenges, feelings of isolation, and so much more when you are oceans away from those you love. It is worth it to me, because I’m the one that gets to teach my children everything from math and grammar, to love and empathy, and I’m there for every milestone that they may achieve. I’m also able to provide my husband with the emotional support he needs, among other things, that enable him to go out and be the best husband, father, and player that he can be. It’s rewarding to know that I have a happy, healthy, and well adjusted family, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy, and despite having my kids around 24/7, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get lonely.
The ability to not just travel, but to live, all over the world has truly been an amazing, yet humbling, experience. I didn’t realize that there was actually a limit to my sanity, but now I know, and it sits somewhere around 7 days. If I have to hear “when is daddy coming home” one more time, I may just scream, but I definitely feel their pain. I keep reminding myself that there are highs and lows, and while this week has been a trying one, there have been many great ones filled with love and laughter. Maybe I need to start meditating, or find a cleaning lady, or bring back my weekly massages, but for now I’m looking forward to a weekend filled with cartoons, doggy snuggles, and the finest Malbec that this country has to offer.