With my 10 month old in my arms, and my 3 year old trailing behind me, I walked into our Henley Beach (Adelaide) apartment and took a good look around. There were toys everywhere, dishes in the sink – incredibly unlike me to leave the house in such a state. But today wasn’t an ordinary day.
I put my 10 month old down who immediately crawled after my eldest who went in her room to play. It allowed me some time to sit down on the couch and process what just happened.
In hindsight I shouldn’t have been surprised. In fact, I wasn’t – this season for my husband had been rocky at best. But it just happened all so quickly, and for a while there it looked like it wasn’t happening at all. But at 5pm that day, my husband’s contract to play football in Adelaide was terminated, and at 6pm he was on a flight to Sydney, so that he could be in Newcastle by the morning to sign with the Newcastle Jets.
Don’t get me wrong, we have moved a lot. We have lived in various cities in Australia, and two overseas. We have become used to packing up, leaving our lives in that city behind, and starting fresh in a new place. I suppose we have had to – this is not an industry for the easily homesick and we simply have had to become adaptable.
But this is the first time we have had to move in season. With two kids. And this time, I was on my own.
So that last part was a bit of a stretch. I wasn’t completely on my own. I was lucky enough to have both my mum and mother-in-law come and help out with the girls so I could get on with the packing.
So, back to the moment on the couch. I vividly remember just sitting there, head in my hands, thinking about the many contents of all the cupboards I needed to get in boxes. The utilities I needed to disconnect and addresses I need to change. The storage shed I needed to sort through. And most heartbreakingly, the people I needed to say goodbye to.
My husband didn’t get that opportunity. He simply had to hop on a plane and go. But fortunately for him most of his friends are also footballers, so they all know the drill. As Heidi Klum is famous for saying “One minute you’re in, the next minute you are out” and how that rung true for us this year.
We obviously didn’t even have a forwarding address, given the hasty nature of this transfer. How was I going to organise a removalist without a place to send our things to? Where would we live? It was Tuesday, and my husband was due to play his first game for the Newcastle Jets across the Tasman in Wellington that weekend, so of course he wouldn’t even be able to come back and help – let alone have any time to look for rentals or areas in Newcastle. For someone that prides themselves on being organised, this move was anything but – and the only thing for me to do was get started packing and work it out.
I felt like I didn’t even have time to feel sad. Here we were, this little family of four, leaving the city we called home for the last two years. My youngest was born in Adelaide and my eldest just grew up so much here – she really went from a baby to a little girl in this city.
We met some great friends, in football and also not in football. On the day before we left, my eldest daughter happily waved goodbye to her friends at the elevator like she always did, but what she didn’t realise – thankfully – was how long it would be until she saw them next.
Even though she knew we were moving to a “new house”, she didn’t know how far we were going, and even as I write this, four weeks later, she still asks about her friends, at least every second day. How do you tell a bright eyed 3 year old you live over 1,000 kilometres away from them now and we won’t be able to see them every week like we used to?
As for me, being the wife of a footballer means you just have to become accustomed to some level of instability.
I remember changing my eldest daughter’s 2nd birthday time and date around eight times. Training is back on…now it’s cancelled. Fox Sports are doing photo shoots… they have now changed the time… There is a team meeting… now there isn’t. I was tempted to just have the party without my husband there! My non-football friends just didn’t get it – they saw me as this miraculous, patient woman that had a very high tolerance for change and instability. But there are lots of us around – the partner of any professional sportsman or woman will tell you similar stories, I am sure some more ridiculous and dramatic than mine.
So after the whirlwind that was seven days of packing and moving, flying and then driving to Newcastle, house hunting while staying in a hotel … four weeks later I can safely say we are settled, or very close to it.
And now that we are, we can finally both enjoy our new home, and look back at our time in Adelaide with fond memories. I now have the time to reconnect with the friends I made there who, to a degree, became like my family, and definitely my ‘in case of an emergency’, contacts. They are the ones I had on speed dial in case I went into labour at 37 weeks pregnant while my husband was in Central Asia playing in the Asian Champions League.
Ah, the life of a footballer’s wife, ever so glamorous, right?
The term WAG is often so ridiculously used. While we are ‘wives and girlfriends’ of men in sport, is that all we are?
I run an online wine business with my husband, manage the websites for my father’s companies, freelance occasionally, write for Motherpedia, am a fulltime mum to two amazing girls, and the wife of an incredible man that works extremely hard to support his family. But amongst all this, the reality is that our lives as a family revolve around where his football is, because not only is it our primary means of survival, but professional sport doesn’t last forever.
My husband often apologises for constantly ‘turning our lives upside down’ as he knows how hard it can be, especially on the weekends he is away and, of course, in times like this year when we have had to relocate with not much notice. But I always, without fail, tell him not to.
He has been given a gift; to be able to wake up and do something he loves and get paid for it is everyone’s dream. It’s not going to last forever and he should live it as long as he can. I know he appreciates us, and we appreciate him, because as well as being good what he does, he is a wonderful husband and father.
And as for our new home of Newcastle? We love it and hope to stay here a good while as I don’t fancy packing – or unpacking – another box for a long, long time.
This piece was first seen on www.motherpedia.com.au