Andrea Butler, wife to Los Angeles Clippers star Caron Butler, on why finding time for her dreams too has only strengthened their bond.
Lately, more and more housewives and celebrity spouses are landing their own reality TV show – promising an inside look at all that goes on in their high profile worlds. They’re entertaining, but in most cases, far from the everyday reality most women in their shoes know. Take Andrea Butler, wife of Los Angeles Clipper player, Caron Butler, for example. Her life is less about fancy lunches and girlfriend getaways and more about remembering bottles, pampers, lugging around college textbooks and cheering on her man.
She and Caron met the summer before their freshman year at the University of Connecticut during a pre-college program on campus. He was the hot new jock around campus and she wasn’t about to feed into his ego, so she ignored him the whole summer. But, when he popped up in a few of her classes during the year she couldn’t deny the sparks they shared.
“If you ever heard Fantasia’s song ‘When I See You,’ that described me and how I felt when we really started liking each other,” says Andrea. “That is our theme song to our relationship. Meeting him was really my fairytale story.”
Caron proposed after his sophomore season for the Huskies, and the two were married in 2005 in Las Vegas. Together they have three beautiful daughters. When Andrea’s not juggling motherhood with Caron’s intense game and travel schedule, she’s hitting the books and pursuing her own dreams.
The Mrs. offered us an inside look at what her life is really like, why they’ll never let cameras into their home, and how she and her husband keep their love strong.
ESSENCE.COM: How is your life as a basketball wife different than what we see on reality TV shows?
ANDREA BUTLER: I don’t have time to go out for drinks and grab lunch and brunch and drinks and dinners and go on trips with my girlfriends like you see on TV. I’m a mom of three and I have a husband that requires a lot of attention as well. For most of his career, I never wanted to be considered the stay-at-home mom, so I was never at home. In my spare time I just kept going back to school. Each time I finished one thing I’d move on to something else. I just feel like, as a mother and being married to an athlete – who has all girls – I never wanted them to grow up and say, “Hey, well mom got to sit at home.” I don’t want that. I just feel like kids learn from what they see. I want them to always see that their mom also had dreams and aspirations and she’s always out there doing something positive – whether it is educationally or through community service and volunteering to help others. So, when my oldest was old enough to go to school I dropped her off at school and I went to school too. It wasn’t online classes. I actually went to campus, set there and took a full load of courses. I studied at night and I did whatever when my family business was taken care of.
My kids are always with me. I drag ‘em everywhere. Sometimes we even match. I try to keep them involved with everything. Now, nothing against parents who have nannies – I know how much they’re needed and sometimes I wished I had one – but, I wanted to be the mom. I didn’t want my kids to have someone else to go to, you know? If they have a problem or issue I want to be that first person that they come to. Then they can go to their dad if they like, but I want you to come to me first.
ESSENCE.COM: It’s clear you put your family first. Was motherhood something you always looked forward to?
BUTLER: I really cherish motherhood because I had issues having children. When I got them, I was just like, “Oh my God!” I have ‘em. I love ‘em. There are so many people out there that want children and cannot have them, so after everything my husband and I had to go through – my husband would look at me very emotional, like he felt bad because he couldn’t help me. But then when we finally did have children they just started coming back-to-back. My oldest just turned eight. She’s had to suffer through games and long nights. She’s the ultimate NBA child. Her name is Mia Caron. Our second one is Ava Caron, and she’ll be 2 in June. Our third is Gia Caron, and she’s just five months old. My hands are very full. I wanted to be a mom so I’m going to enjoy everything that comes with motherhood.
ESSENCE.COM: What has marriage been like for you?
BUTLER: Caron and I met when I was 19 at UConn, so this year will be our 11th year together. It’s been wonderful. When people say they’re looking for a fairytale relationship, I believe I have it. I honestly believe in God and I feel like he did send me my Prince Charming. It’s hard to look at these huge over-sized guys and think that they can be emotional or affectionate, but he’s every bit of that. His mom has a lot of sisters and they have a very big family, and everyone is affectionate and loving. It was the way he was raised, and he’s just like that with me and even more so with the children. I actually thank my mom for making me go to UConn because that was not my first choice of school. If I’d gone somewhere else I may never have met him.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you two make it work?
BUTLER: Our relationship is just that – ours! So, we had to learn to keep that line, and friends and family need to be on the other side of it. They don’t need to be in our personal lives. You can talk until you’re blue, but you’ll never know what the feeling is like. As much as he plays and he’s tired, I’m tired from going to games, packing kids up and running around. It can really take a toll on you. It’s his job and its what he wants to do, so all I can do as a wife is support him. I went to school to do other things and all he can do as a husband is support me.
ESSENCE.COM: What advice would you offer newlyweds on making their marriage last?
BUTLER: Not all company is good company. Some people are negative. I always say, “If you’re not for us, you’re against us.” So, if you’re not going to be a positive influence in our life and give us good feedback or knowledge to help us continue our marriage, then there is no need for you to be around us. I don’t want negativity in my life. I want to enjoy it with him. Anyone who’s in a marriage should learn how to be with each other.