A friend once warned me to refrain from reading the “comments” section on social media sites like Facebook, but despite this very wise advice, I often can’t resist this terrible temptation. Sure enough, as I scroll through many of the comments, shaking my head (and sometimes actually worrying about the future of humanity) I am frequently irritated, annoyed, and sometimes even outraged at what people have to say.
A similar experience happened to me recently. Now I know my choice of television programming is not always of the “intelligent” variety (just ask my husband!) I’ll take a Keeping up with the Kardashians re-run any day, and was obsessed with Jon and Kate Plus 8 when it first aired. But what some people are saying about my new favourite, Hockey Wives, is really starting to irk me.
If you are not familiar with the show, it’s an 8-episode docu-series (aka “reality tv show”) that airs on the W Network and follows several wives/girlfriends of NHL hockey players. Now, let’s get real for a moment. I am Canadian. I grew up watching hockey. My stepson dreams of making it to the NHL. My friends’ kids play hockey. My husband watches hockey. Hockey, hockey, hockey – some will say it’s what makes us Canadian. Because of this, I feel it’s only natural for some people (like me!) to be curious about what the lives of the real big guys are like behind closed doors. I believe it’s a natural human instinct to want to have a sneak-peak into the lives of others – especially when those others happen to have “celebrity status”. (And when you’re Canadian, NHL players have celebrity status).
Now, I get it. Some of the women featured on Hockey Wives don’t always represent themselves as best as they probably could (I won’t mention any names) but it takes all kinds to make our little word go round and whether it’s on Hockey Wives or out your very own front door, there are always going to be people we encounter who we don’t necessarily like. And let’s not forget that many TV shows are edited and altered to give the public a specific perception of its characters for a lack of a better reason than to make good television and increase revenue. (example: crying on the steps of a beautiful home saying you’d rather live in your car).
That being said, the thing about the social media comments that irritate me the most, is how quickly people are to judge these women because of how much money their husbands make. Many of the commentators seem to give the impression that if someone is rich, they have no right to “whine” about their so-called “problems”.
Really?! And here all along I was under the impression that money doesn’t solve problems. In fact, sometimes having money can actually cause more problems (haven’t these people ever seen Lottery Changed My Life?)
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that people living below the poverty line, or even those living pay cheque to pay cheque, don’t have their own fair share of problems. It’s neither one, nor the other. I am simply saying that just because people have money, doesn’t mean they aren’t human and don’t experience life challenges just like the rest of us.
Yes, I am sure it is lovely to live in a mansion with a pool and a maid, to get your nails and hair professionally done on a regular basis, and to have a walk-in closet jam-packed with Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and the like (if that’s what it’s actually like to be the wife of an NHL player – somehow I don’t think it’s necessarily that glamorous!) But it still sucks to be separated from your spouse for months at a time, raise children single-handily, and never know where you are going to live next or what will happen to your spouse’s career from day-to-day (trades, injury, etc.)
And that’s what the wives of hockey players do. They are married to men who are away from home for a significant part of the year (including many holidays and special occasions). Yes, there are many other situations where a spouse may work away from his/her family. But whether it’s to barely make ends meet, or to pursue a dream that just happens to pay millions, is not really the issue. The issue is that with this separation comes feelings of loneliness, isolation, and despair.
So imagine those feelings of isolation and now throw kids in the mix. Many of the players have to watch their children meet milestones or celebrate holidays from afar – not such an easy thing to do if you’ve every had to do it. And what about the Moms who are left behind with children to care for all on their own? And what about if one of your child has significant special needs and requires specialized therapy (which is the case for one of the Hockey Wives)? It’s no joke that parenting is hard. Extremely hard at times. And you likely know someone who is a single parent and just how much harder that is. My own husband works away from home every second week, and while the time he is away is short, some of the days where it’s just me and the kids feel long and frustrating. Very, very long and very, very frustrating. And when the kids are misbehaving and I feel like ripping my hair out, my husband can’t be there. Just like, the NHL players who can be away from home (and their families) for weeks at a time. When the wives are dealing with the tantrums, the carpooling, the endless tasks that make up the life of a stay-at-home mom, their husbands can’t be there. And what’s more is that when your husband is a professional athlete his focus and loyalty to the sport is intense so you aren’t going to call him for support when you feel like you just can’t take another day as a single parent.
With that being said, in addition to tackling things like first pregnancies, new babies, and raising kids alone, some of the women featured on Hockey Wives have made the choice to put their own careers on the back burner in order to support their husband. While some may argue that they made that choice, I still say we need to recognize how difficult that is to do – to put our aspirations on hold in order to emotionally and mentally support our loved ones in the pursuit of their dream. Surely, while it certainly is a choice, it can not be an easy one. And maybe we can actually decide to respect those people that have made the selfless choice to fully, 100% support their spouse.
And let’s not forget the women who are still charging ahead full-time with their own career while living with the uncertainty of where their husband’s career might take him season-to-season. At least a couple of the Hockey Wives have very busy careers (one whom has returned to work as a model mere months after giving birth) that take a lot of dedication, hard work, and commitment. Building this type of career, while married to a man who may need to relocate just months down the road, can not be easy and surely takes a lot of sacrifice.
So next time you want to write a judgemental comment about someone who you only know through TV, I ask you to pause and reconsider. Think about the editing that goes into these shows in order to make “exciting ” TV. Think about how that woman you are judging is someone’s dedicated wife, loving mother, or faithful friend. And most of all, let’s not be so quick to assume that just because someone has a higher-than-most income, they don’t face the same everyday life challenges, feel the same emotions, or have similar “problems” to the rest of us. Please remember, “money can’t buy happiness”.