The Training Camp Chronicles Part 1

It’s back you guys! FOOTBALL IS BACK!

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So exciting except I truly dread preseason though. It’s by far the most stressful part of the year (in my opinion). My husband has to be away from home, again…and there’s always the lingering thought of unknown that nags at you and can keep you awake at night (Remember, this is all coming from my point of view, strictly as the wife of a professional football player, not his own thoughts).

For those who don’t know, starting in April, Zach had to start going back and forth from our home in Michigan to New Orleans for OTAs. This back and forth pretty much lasts all the way through June and on one had is great because I think it’s good team bonding. It starts with lifting only then progresses to pretty much full on practices. On the other hand, we have to live separately Sunday night-Thursday night every week and it is hard for me to be apart that much and I’d be lying if I said it was easy on a marriage. Not that we suffered greatly, but communication is a tough one for us during that time. I’m super busy holding down the home front, while Zach is busy working in a whole different state. On top of all that, I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy for most of it SO needless to say, I was a raging psychopath…about everything. I’m sorry, Zach. Blame Harper.

So anyway, once OTAs and mini-camp ended in June there’s about a month/month 1/2 break before camp starts. For Zach, this break mostly just means being home full time. He really ramps up his workouts to make sure he’s in peak shape for camp, so there’s not much R&R in that sense, but of course we find time for fun!

Camp began two days after we made the drive back to New Orleans and from then on it was full steam ahead, football everything. Last year, Zach didn’t get signed to a team until two weeks in to camp so the girls and I missed out on being able to visit him, in the years previous when we were with the Vikings, camp was almost 2 hours away in Mankato. Camp here is such a different experience because he’s literally just down the street and technically we could go watch whenever we wanted to, plus he stays at a hotel near as well. The catch is, IF we do get to see him, it’s for about 10-20 min max. I’m not complaining though, it’s so much better this way than it has been in the past especially with our two little girls at home.

I honestly didn’t really think much about Blake and Charley and the affects that Zach being gone would have on them. I think that’s because they’re so little and he has had to do so much traveling for work already. During OTAs, he was gone all week and we would FaceTime and talk on the phone quite bit, so at least Blake was able to see and hear him more consistently (I say Blake only because to be totally honest, Charley doesn’t really know much of whats happening, she’s only 17 months old), but with training camp, there’s maybe one phone call a day and if we see him it’s so short like I mentioned earlier. Blake is DEFINITELY having a much harder time than I had anticipated. She asks about him constantly and cries so hard when he leaves/we leave him. She just adores him so much, it makes my heart hurt. Charley on the other hand, makes Zach work for her love back when she sees him. It’s so hilarious. I know they will both be very, very happy little girls once their favorite guy is back home.

With all that being said, please don’t compare me to a single mom. Yes, I have to be at home without my husband and do everything for our household & kids during this time, BUT I have him there for me. I have his support and he is gone because he’s working hard for our family. I don’t know even 1% of the struggle that single moms have to go through by actually doing IT ALL. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home full time, though it can be challenging…having to make a living and support my kids/myself all on my own is something I have no experience and knowledge of (and frankly, I hope to never know what that’s like). I don’t know the struggle of not having my husband to be there for me emotionally even when he can’t be there physically. I’ll get comments like that a lot, and it bothers me! We are still very much a team when he’s away and that’s something I deeply appreciate. I could never even begin to understand what a single mom or even a military wife with a deployed husband goes through. My time without Zach at home is limited in the grand scheme of things, and no where near the extent of someone who is overseas, or having to play both roles of mom & dad while paying the bills AND remaining sane. I have so much appreciation for single moms/military wives, I don’t know how they do it.

All moms with working husbands take on a lot, this is just the season of my life right now and it’s absolutely nothing to be upset about. I am grateful, so grateful, and though I may complain from time to time I will never lose sight of how lucky I am to have a hard working, loving & providing husband by my side to raise our sweet girls with.

So far, there has been one preseason game, with the second coming up this Friday. There are 4 in total before preseason officially comes to an end. I believe Zach and his teammates all get to come home after they travel to practice & play in LA next week, but I’m not totally sure what the correct timeline is.

Every person if competing for their job in one way or another. There really are just a handful of people that I know that can sit back and relax through preseason knowing that their fate is destined for that 53 man roster. You can be highly valued & loved, and just not really needed. Or a million other scenarios. You really never know, and that is stressful. Typically, after the second preseason game is when the first round of cuts are made and from then on final roster is due the day after the last NFL preseason game. The team is cut from 90 some guys to 53 with a handful that get placed on practice squad. Every year I anxiously check twitter at 4pm est. and refresh, refresh, refresh, until the roster is posted. If you know anyone who plays DO NOT CALL THEM THAT DAY. The feeling of a phone vibrating or it ringing can be scary because you just don’t know if your husband is getting the call to meet at the facility to speak with coaches.

NFL = Not For Long, you never know when the decision will be made for you that your time is up, so it’s important to embrace every second of it, even the struggles of training camp! I definitely learned that last year when we didn’t know if Zach would be back on a team or not. It was exactly this time one year ago that scrolling through my social media was causing internal battle with myself with trying to be happy for our peers but secretly having that jealousy creep in because I missed those moments and wanted them back. I will never take for granted being able to take a family picture in the blazing hot sun with crazy toddlers after Zach’s practice, or even when I’m struggling with missing him like crazy at home especially when I’m having a tough day. It’s all a part of this wonderful adventure that my family is on.

Zach gets to sleep at home tonight and have the day off tomorrow which I’m so looking forward to. I am also excited to go watch the game this Friday at home vs the Cardinals, it makes it really feel like football season is here! So far all is going well, and I hope that everyone reading this can send their well-wishes and prayers to all the players they know, that they can remain safe & healthy throughout the duration of camp that is left. I hope that my “Part 2” post will continue to have good news to report, but that’s all for now.

Next week I’ll be posting “Trading Spaces: New Orleans Edition”, talking about what we do best, move (haha).

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with our family!

xx,

McKenzie

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