Coventry Chronicles: Hard decisions
October 7, 2017
Hello from Coventry. As I write this, I'm reminded that I could be saying, "guten tag from Germany."
In between hockey seasons this past summer, we were presented with a decision: Where to next? We felt ready to move on from Scotland, where Ryan had played for the past two seasons. There were several offers on the table.
One was from a team in very Northern Denmark (too dark). A team in Norway (too expensive) and a team in Italy (been there, done that) were interested. Three teams in the UK wanted Ryan to play for them. And then there was a team in Germany.
It was in a town called Bad Tölz, nestled in the mountains of Bavaria. A quick Google search showed images of a cobblestone street dotted with German pubs, the buildings painted different shades of pastels. Men in lederhosen were playing accordions and families were hiking in meadows of wildflowers. It didn't look like there was anything bad about Bad Tölz.
It was the adventure we were craving. Living in the UK had its perks (reliable wi-fi, English, direct deposit) but it was very similar to living in the U.S. We were missing the hilarious comedy of errors that comes with living abroad. We wanted to see new cities, immerse ourselves in a new culture and sit at cafes all afternoon.
Then we remembered that we had children. We started thinking about doctors, play groups, mom friends and taking two kids to the German grocery store. And the questions flooded our heads: Would there be things to do with the kids in such a small town? Would we be able to find a babysitter? What would navigating the language be like with children?
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In our dream world, we saw ourselves taking the kids for long hikes and visiting nearby lakes. We saw them toddling about on the sidewalk while we sat at those cafes. In reality we remembered that our 1-year-old gets impatient while on walks longer than 15 minutes.
We went back and forth for days, agonizing over the decision. We weren't ones to shy away from a new adventure because we were scared. But it wasn't just the two of us, like it used to be when we first moved to Europe.
There were two little people relying on us and our choices.
It was all we talked about for three days and then, finally, one night we said, "We're going to Germany and it will be great." The next morning, we both woke up and said, "No. Let's go back to the UK." That morning, Ryan told his agent he was ready to sign with Coventry.
All our visions of sunny mountain hikes, afternoon beers at tiny cafe, and wading in clear blue lakes were gone, and were, surprisingly, replaced by a sense of calm.
Saying no to a German adventure was one of the hardest decisions we've made as parents because we had to put our family first and recognize what was best for all four of us. It was the safe decision, and it was also the best decision we've made. Having two boys under two is adventure enough right now.
Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer currently living in England. Dingle’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and professional hockey player; you can follow their adventures online at sophiedingle.blogspot.com.