There is a unique solidarity among coaches’ wives.

Coaches’ wives get the fact that our husbands watch tape until 2 a.m., and that they are on recruiting calls while we are on vacation, and that they walk around a little grumpy the day after a big loss.

Coaches’ wives who are also moms understand something else: We often parent alone.

I pride myself on being independent, on being able to get the kids from Point A to Point B every single day and perhaps even teaching them some life lessons along the way.

During the basketball season, I spend so much time in my “I am woman hear me roar” zone of solo parenting that when my husband is home, I get angry with him for throwing off our routine. It usually takes me about a week after tournament time to adjust to co-parenting again. The poor man now knows to just ride it out.

I’m sure there are lots of women who can relate: military wives, single moms, spouses of traveling businessmen. The circumstances may be different, but I think we probably go through many of the same emotions. We are proud of what we can accomplish on our own, but sometimes we are just plain worn out and need some help.

I have one new group to add to my little sorority: pastors’ wives. My friend Maria, whose husband is a pastor, shared with me an experience she had in Fargo this summer with her four small children.

Maria’s husband may not be watching tape and taking recruiting calls, but I bet he spends a good amount of “free time” planning sermons and making hospital visits.

And I know that while Maria is proud of her independence, she is certainly grateful for helping hands.

“We needed groceries on perhaps the hottest day in July. It was stifling hot, but we were out of almost every snack and basic food in the house, so, after the toddler’s nap, we headed to the grocery store.

“That particular hot day reflected my son’s mood perfectly. He was grouchy. We got near the watermelon, and he started saying ‘apple.’ I explained they were watermelon and that we’d have to pay for them.

“Things went downhill from there, so we shopped the produce section with a toddler shouting ‘Apple! Apple!’ in the most pathetic ‘please can’t I have an apple’ tone that you ever did hear. I stayed fairly calm on the outside but had made the decision to get just a few more items and beat it out of the store.

“When we got over to the grapefruit/orange section, an elderly woman leaned down to my little boy, who was in tears, and told him his shirt was ‘sure nice’ and asked him where he got it. As his tearful shouts of ‘apple’ subsided, my tears nearly fell because the woman reminded me of how my grandma might have calmly talked to a little person in a store.

“My son didn’t answer the lady, but he smiled and calmed down after she visited with him. I guess he just needed his mind taken off the forbidden ‘apple.’

“We ended up getting our entire list thanks to that kind woman who helped out a sad little boy instead of just staring and shaking her head.

“I hear of other people getting that kind of reaction, and I wonder if I just don’t notice when it happens to me or if I’m just somehow blessed to find all these really kind people in my path! Either way, I want to be like that elderly woman someday.”

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I’m so thankful when I run into those people who, with just one kind word, remind me I’m not alone and help to hold down the fort until Daddy gets home.

Please share your stories of kindness with me at or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.