Before we go to Mrs YWS’ piece, I need to provide a decent dose of context. In my first weekend ‘back’, being able to watch sport, I came to two key realisations.
- A lot has changed and sport will not have the same pull on me that it once had. I enjoyed some quality time with the fellas, but all my online and TV watching has been pretty underwhelming, with the exception of last year’s AFL Grand Final. I wasn’t itching to get back to sport nor did I feel fulfilled from any engagement with it. The temptations down the line will still be there, but for now, it’s a non-event.
- This second one pains me to write – I think the life cycle of this blog is just about over. With the year without sport finished and sport not the focus it once was, I would only be leveraging the momentum built up over the last 12+ months. That wouldn’t be fair, as much as I have loved writing.
There are other passions and ideas in the mix, so stay tuned, but for now, there are 3 final posts that will be published to finish off this journey. Today is the first of those three.
I have been bugging Mrs YWS for ages to contribute in this forum. It’s not just guys who turn to unimportant or consumerist distractions in the midst of a chaotic lifestyle. Getting her take on what it’s been like this past 12 months, as well as giving her own insights on the crutches and temptations that await women was crucial.
Well, it took her to get to being 42 weeks pregnant to concur, but better late than never!
Thanks for writing this, Jo. It’s a really insightful piece. So, enjoy… =>
A Year With Mr Year Without Sport
So I’ll admit that I didn’t notice that he was going sportless for the first few weeks. I just wondered why my previously reluctant husband was suddenly asking me if I wanted to go out for coffee with him. But not to look a gift horse in the mouth I drank my lattes and just shut the hell up!
I must admit, if anything, I noticed him absconding off to some or other quiet room of the house on his laptop and wondered if he was a) dying of cancer and had started writing his memoirs or b) I was really tipping him over more than usual and he needed to vent his frustrations via some kind of journal or email to a friend. Maybe our marriage wasn’t going well and hence all the extra coffees and attempts to spend time together?
In all reality, I was too busy with my own busyness and unsustainable practices to notice the lack of his…
For me, 2010 had been a year of working full time in student welfare and studying nights to complete a Diploma of Education. 2011 saw me the unlikely successful candidate to begin teaching at a prestigious Melbourne private school. The culture, therefore, of Pete’s and my married life was slowly becoming one of efficiency, busyness and learning to maximise every available moment to fit in as much as possible because we’re both a bit go-go-go.
So what has Pete’s year meant for me?
Paddle little duck, Paddle!
When we start a new job or (as it was for me) career, it’s easy to try to work like fury to show everyone how competent and capable you are. Like a duck that on the surface looks as though it’s skimming along, we are secretly paddling like fury in our personal time and mental space to look like we’re fine.
As a first year teacher in 2011, I was keen to get on top of my planning, marking, classroom management techniques, faculty relationships, staff friendships, report writing, record keeping and just generally being adored by pretty much every student I came into contact with (whilst also being the best, most inspiring, most helpful English teacher they’ve ever had).
Of course, this is a completely achievable goal whilst still maintaining some exercise regime, a social life, dog-walking duties and being a decent wife, daughter, sister and friend. Right? Ha!
There were so many times when I have to admit (sorry, honey), that Pete’s journey tipped me over. Why couldn’t I have a husband who wasn’t an education industry work/life balance expert? Why couldn’t I have a husband who would be happy as a pig in mud to just sit in front of the box for the 9-10 hours a weekend it would have taken me to be really across all that English marking and planning and preparation, not to mention up-keeping five online learning spaces each with upwards of 25 students contributing homework, practise essays and online discussion?
And why did he have to keep reminding me of the utter futility of wanting to do all these things, making me resent the demands of this new job that I so badly wanted to master and in the process make myself look all shiny and awesomely successful?
How dare he question my work practices? How dare he consistently interrupt my work catch-up time by planning fun and social activities for our weekends? Why must he distract me from joining my fellow graduates in their pursuit of excellence?
Every other first year I knew was working their a$$ off, getting every virus, glandular fever, chronic fatigue syndrome, having panic attacks and ending up in their boss’ office in tears. Instead he called my boss secretly and arranged days off so I had to accompany him on a surprise tour of five European countries, took me out for coffee and cake regularly and worst of all, got me pregnant!!
Yes, well. As you can tell, I have graciously decided to forgive him for his many annoying habits this year, and decided that if he wants to go on some internal pilgrimage to become a better man, I suppose I can find it in me to support him, if I have to.
Here comes Mr. Wonderful
Ok, I’ll admit that I am biased, but I believe this year has made Pete a better man. I know it has. I see him every day, when he’s cranky in the morning because someone didn’t refill the ice tray (give me a break, I was busy making your dinner), when he comes home from a huge day and still gets in a workout because that’s what he knows he needs to do, when he is sitting around with friends and we get to hear what I call ‘the happy laugh’ – (a high pitched and distinctly girlish sound of glee only emitted when Pete finds something truly and breathlessly hilarious) and when every day I see the fruit that grows from a soil rich in meaningful life experiences.
You see, I am a firm believer that we are what we eat (which as I type this, 42 weeks pregnant, means I am a pancake doused in maple syrup and chased with a chai latte, but that’s beside the point). And what we ‘eat’ so often is competition, comparison, coveting and consuming (I got on a roll with the alliteration and couldn’t stop – I am an English teacher).
Yes, competition as in sport, which is often a healthy competition especially if you’re on the field rather than in the armchair. But let’s face it, we are taught to be competitive everywhere. From school onwards we compete over social ability, girlfriend/boyfriend status, Uni entrance, job titles and wife/husband hotness factor. Don’t pretend you haven’t thought about it – we’re all secretly impressed with the friend who ‘bats above their average’!
We compare ourselves to others – usually comparing those who we perceive to have more – money, power, talent, friends, cool gadgets, fashion sense, everything. We want whatever we don’t have, even if we’ve just bought something new and cool, we are in a society where everything is victim to planned obsolescence and we inevitably become tired of our new stuff and need newer stuff.
Sometimes this mentality even applies to relationships. Friends bug us, partners don’t satisfy and we find a community littered with broken relationships, broken people and always the desire to be just a bit happier, a bit richer and a bit more comfortable.
So Pete choosing to ‘eat’ right – focus on relationships, spend time by himself in reflection and (gasp) prayer, help out a mate on a Saturday arvo (even though he admits to not being even slightly interested in handyman type activities) and talk with his wife about their values for a future as parents and partners. This began to change the thoughts, words and actions that poured out of his life – in a very cool way.
In the past 12 months…
This year I have enjoyed watching Pete extend his diet and –
- Learn about global issues (warming, financial crisis, employee health)
- Build houses (alright, so mainly being a free labourer but I’m sure Bruce, Glen, you appreciated the willing company)
- Search for the perfect tennis partner and get some healthy, social competition going on his Saturday afternoons.
- Become culturally initiated (art galleries in Lisbon, photographic exhibitions, checking out the Archibald prize gallery with his wife)
- Invest in new friendships (less ‘plonking’ more organising the boys to get out and actually talk and be face to face, rather than sit around mutually moaning about muffed passes and mangled plays).
- Gain insight into his own self-medicating with entertainment or busyness and start to address the insecurities and issues that arise when all is quiet and no-one is calling, when life is slow and we are not distracted or entertained but rather must sit a minute and think: “What now? Who now? Why now?”
So ultimately, this year without sport thing has been, without hyperbole, life changing. I fully believe that we will look back upon this year as the axis in which our marriage, family life, and vision for the rest of our lives together, were able to stop, pivot and take off in a new direction. Perhaps it’s hard to see that our habits today shape our character and the entire shape of our lives tomorrow but they do. One afternoon of sport isn’t going to kill anyone or break apart the fabric of society, but what will your habits today reap tomorrow?
For me, feeling the first pangs of labour and knowing our baby is not far away, I write this in full confidence of the man I have married, the man he is today, and is becoming for tomorrow. It’s an awesome, exciting and challenging adventure that I am privileged to undertake with the man I love.
This man without sport has become a man with so much more.