From August 10 to September 10, I will have only seen my daughter and wife for a total of three days.
All professional teams are different, but my team has had an extra busy preseason travel schedule. We were in Italy for a few weeks. Now we are in Germany. Next week we head to Turkey for some long practices and “friendly” exhibition games (which typically aren’t so friendly) to get us ready for the season.
Do I love playing basketball and competing at the highest level? Of course I do. Do I miss my wife and daughter more than anything in the world during these trips? You bet I do. This is the first time I have been away from my daughter, and even my wife, for this amount of time.
When we came back from Italy after a few weeks, I couldn’t contain the joy of finally being able to hug and kiss my beautiful wife, and hold and cuddle my daughter (who seems to grow exponentially when I am away). But it was bittersweet, because we knew that I would have to hit the road again for another few weeks.
The day I left for Germany, after three amazing days with my girls, it seemed like a routine departure. My wife drove me to the gym. I kissed my daughter, kissed me wife, grabbed my bags and said, “Love you both, see you soon.”
It all went according to plan until my wife sent me this text message after I got on the team bus:
This broke my heart. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but when I received this text from my wife, my mind instantly recreated the scene in the car.
My wife looking back to see our daughter looking for her father...who’d already left her for a few weeks and was now gone again.
I know she’s only four months old, but you cannot tell me that kids aren’t smart enough to put two and two together. I don’t worry that my daughter will hold this against me for the rest of my life, but in that moment -- as a father -- I felt her feelings of abandonment.
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking: he’s gone for a few weeks from his child, how hard can that really be?
Playing professional basketball overseas is an amazing experience for me and my family, yet there are times that shit gets tough -- especially for my wife.
I am from Canada; all my family lives there. My wife is from Australia; all her family lives there. We will live in Monaco for the next ten months; we have no family anywhere close to us. My wife will be raising our first child alone for an entire month in a new country, with no friends or family to call on to help her through things. You may ask: what about the wives or girlfriends of your teammates? Unfortunately, they don’t arrive until the season starts in mid-September.
Now I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for my wife; she is killing the motherhood game. I merely want to shed some light on how strong the mother of your child can be when she needs to be.
Sleep? My wife seems to make do without it. Carry a fussy baby around the city? She definitely does that. Make sure our daughter is fed and entertained all day? No question. Leisure time? Nope, my wife doesn’t get any of that while I’m gone.
Don’t get it twisted, my wife enjoys (almost) every second of being a mother -- she wouldn’t trade that for the world -- but it is a full time job, especially in a foreign country. And as with any job, things aren’t always perfect. Especially if English isn’t the locals’ language.
My wife, Megan, shared the following thoughts with me:
“It’s not always for weeks at a time; sometimes it’s less, sometimes more. But when my husband goes away things change and I get super lonely. Most of the time there are other wives around who I try to make friends with. But now, in the preseason, there is no one here, like actually no one. So it’s just me and Amiyah. I love my daughter more than words, but 24/7 is exhausting and not only that, she can’t talk back, so it’s kind of like I’m talking to myself (feels like I’m going crazy at times).
Don’t get me wrong, I'm walking around Monaco, this incredible city, and I feel so grateful for this life...but there’s a lump in my throat and I’m on the verge of crying because I feel so lonely and overwhelmed. We have the best daughter, but four months is a tough age. She’s developing so much (which is amazing) but it can be hard on her, too, which in turn is hard on me. This is -- hands down -- the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve been through a lot, but having this lonely feeling and being kept on my toes all day everyday with my four-month old baby is a lot.
I’m so, so grateful to have an amazing husband that provides for us and a healthy baby girl. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything, but at times being alone raising a baby is extremely difficult. These are the sacrifices we have to make to have this life.”
Although we face tough times every now and then, it does not compare to the joy we both have to be living this way. I dedicate myself to my craft of basketball so I can provide the life for my family that I always dreamed of while doing what I love. I also know that the better I get, the more sacrifices I may have to make.
While I am on the road, I am locked into winning each and every game. When I step on that court, it's like an out-of-body experience. I am not Dylan Ennis, the loving father, son, brother, and friend. I am Dylan Ennis, the killer. Whether it’s a film session on the opponent, practice, or the game, I have to detach myself from the man I am off the court. I almost forget my true identity.
During all the time in between, when I’m not on FaceTime with my wife, I’m checking out the hundreds of pictures and videos she sends me of our daughter so that I don’t feel a sense of absence. That’s the identity I value most -- that I always want to come back to. Being the best husband and father that I can be.
I thank God everyday for my life, my wife, and my stink aka my daughter.
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