Spring Break is finally here. For me, this is always a time of reflection. Five years ago, at age 26, I became a head football coach. It was only my third year into the profession. Inexperience aside, there was one huge difference from that Eli and the one that is writing this column today: I didn’t have any kids.
Sure, I had the sixty boys on the team to look after, and let me tell you; they were a handful. But I wasn’t a father yet. I didn’t have a daughter like I do now.
When I look back on those years, more often than not I cringe. It’s not because of the job I did or how many games we (didn’t) win. The truth of the matter is: I worked my coaches and myself WAY too hard. If I’d have been a father during that time, I don’t think I would’ve been a very good one.
The coaches were required to be at the field house at 7 in the morning all through the workweek — in-season or off-season — it didn’t matter. I’ll never forget one of my assistants coming to me and explaining how he had to take his kids to daycare and couldn’t make it to the early-morning meetings.
I told him to “make it work.”
Those were my exact words. Cringe-worthy, right?
Today my world revolves around Emersyn Lynn Cranor. If I were faced with a decision between her and early morning coaching meetings, I’d probably hand in my resignation. Which is just what that coach with the kids in daycare did at the end of the first season.
Americans’ work-to-life balance often seems out of whack. We chase and hurry, running the proverbial “Rat Race,” but at the end of the day, what do we get out of it? Where is the fabled finish line?
In my world, the finish line isn’t a big promotion. It’s not a fancy car. It’s definitely not winning a bunch of football games; I hung up the whistle when Emmy Lynn came along. For me, writing replaced the lifestyle of the gridiron. Putting words on paper and then getting them out there where people can read them; that’s the compulsion I have to guard against now.
But the nice thing about writing is, I can do it from home. I have an office and a big oak desk covered with Emmy’s drawings and scribbles. She likes to come into my office when I’m working and listen to music. Sometimes we even make our own. I’ll break out the guitar and she’ll grab a microphone, and off we go.
If I’d have known then what I know now, I would’ve never called those early-morning meetings, pulling all my coaches away from their families. Don’t get me wrong; it would’ve been a hard decision. In that profession winning and losing are extremely important.
But the truth is, winning and losing are just as important when it comes to family life. And just because there are no touchdowns or homeruns, I guarantee you somebody — your spouse, your son, your daughter — is keeping score.
So take it from me, a guy who’s made this mistake already: Slow down, soak it up, and be sure to enjoy time with your family during this Spring Break.
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