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Stressed Out Summer

August is a really tough month for my family. My husband works in student housing and he has a very short time frame to get all of the apartments ready for the incoming students. What that means for me and Noah is that we are on our own for about a month (mid-July to mid-August).

In previous years, this hasn’t been a huge deal. Three years ago, I was a poor grad student so I spent that summer waiting tables at a fancy restaurant. It was a good way to make a little extra money and to stave off boredom. Two years ago, I was big, fat and pregnant for most of this busy period. And then, wouldn’t you know it, I gave birth to Noah during the craziest time of year for Matt. But, while he was able to take a few days off while I was in the hospital and for our first days home, he had to go right back to work. It wasn’t too bad though because I had family at home to help out. Last year during this time, I was still a stay-at-home mom and Noah had just started walking and was still easy to catch. And, while it definitely got lonely at times, being a temporary “single mom” wasn’t so bad.

This year, however, I am going CRAZY!!! Matt has been leaving for work at the time that I get up in the morning. He hasn’t been getting home until well after 6pm (weekends included). And, on the nights that I see clients, I don’t get home until after 8pm. We have had to have family come in to town to help on our overlapping nights. And, as if things weren’t busy enough, Noah’s birthday falls smack dab in the middle of everything.

Party planning, hosting a house full of company, and (I hadn’t mentioned this part yet) because of a summer full of rain storms and wind damage, we had to have a new roof put on our house (while also dealing with all of the previously discussed stress) is not exactly the greatest way to manage my life while Matt is working 12 hour days, 30 days straight.

But being busy and going a little crazy are actually the smallest annoyances to this hectic speed bump in our lives. What really sucks the most is that I desperately miss my husband. While we do get to “physically” see each other for a couple of hours a day, when I do actually get a chance to sit down with him after we put the baby to bed, he is so tired, frustrated, or he has more work to do to get ready for tomorrow. We are both just exhausted. We have been short with each other, snap at the smallest things, and our patience is at an all-time low.

Noah has really noticed the difference as well. I think he is really confused or maybe even angry with his daddy. And, because he is 2, he has no idea how to express his emotions. He spends the whole day talking about how much he misses daddy and asks about where he is but, as soon as Matt gets home, he distances himself from him and won’t leave my side. He turns into this clingy, crying mess (Noah that is, not Matt).

Our entire world has been flipped upside down and these are things I never anticipated. Matt has been working in student housing since 2006. This isn’t new to us. But we have never done this with a toddler. And let me tell you, this sucks! This situation has given me migraines, made me sick to my stomach on more than a few occasions, and I rarely sleep during the night because I am so worried about the next day’s to-do list.

Matt and I are the couple that talks about everything. We rarely fight and if we do, we generally stop somewhere in the middle of the argument and laugh about what we’re fighting about. [Or, Matt just apologizes and we move on.] We communicate. And we usually do a damn good job at it. I’m a counselor. I teach others stress relief techniques and coping strategies to use during times like these. I should be awesome at this!

So, in these final days before the college kids move in and things get back to normal, I am trying to remind myself often that this is only temporary. Remind myself that he will be back to his typical even-keeled self in a matter of days. And remind myself that I need to start coming up with a much better plan for next summer. Either that, or find Matt a new job.
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Time flies…

Wow… today is the last day of July. In this crazy busy life that I have, with all of the responsibilities (both good and bad) I cannot believe that today is the last day of July. Fall is around the corner and then its Christmas and then hello 2014.

I think the reason today’s date took me by surprise is that I just never could have imagined how fast time goes by. This has been a pretty insane year for me and my family. When 2013 started, I was a stay-at-home mom (I did see clients in the evenings but only a couple nights a week). Noah was active but not near the acrobatic, overly-ambitious daredevil that he is now. I was able to keep the house relatively clean, cook dinner most nights, and spend time with friends and family on a pretty regular basis.

And, the best part of my “previous life,” I got to spend all day with my little man. We played outside, we went on adventures, we went to Little Gym twice a week, and I took him with me on all of my errands. We were a pretty awesome team. Now that I am working full time and still seeing clients at night, I miss these moments desperately.

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would have loved being at home 24/7 with my kids, I would have laughed in your face. I was a go-getter! I was the person that worked way too many hours, took work home with me on a nightly basis, and answered work emails and phone calls all weekend long.

Then I became a mother. Well—actually, I became a counselor first. Transitioning from my previous job to graduate student transformed me and my outlook on life. While learning to be a counselor, I learned so much more about myself and how to be a better person (which made me a better wife and mother) than I ever could have anticipated.

I learned how to set boundaries with my clients- and within my personal life. I learned how to evaluate and process the experience rather than the outcome- with clients and with myself. And I learned how to help my clients set realistic goals and make healthy changes- which forced me to practice what I preach.

Then, in my final semester of graduate school, I became a mother. Everything changed again.

And it continues to change- with every new word that wonderful baby says, every new boo-boo that needs to be kissed, and every bug that I have to rush to get out of his hands before he puts it into his mouth, my outlook on life is continually changing. I hate that I miss those moments all day long that are shaping who my son will become. Yes, I get it. I set the foundation and I am there at nights and on the weekends, blah, blah, blah. Dammit- I miss the boring every day moments that are so precious and so mundane and so hilarious. I want to smack his teachers in the face when they tell me about all of the adorable and sweet moments they got to witness while I was at work.

When I picked him up yesterday, Noah started talking about something with such enthusiasm and intensity that his little face started turning red. Of course, I could only understand bits and pieces because toddlers throw a lot of unnecessary sounds and babbles in there. I had to look to his teacher to figure out the rest of it. In that moment, I realized how much I am missing and how much I miss him. I need to do a much better job at soaking him in when I have him.

So, my realistic, attainable, and measurable goal for this last day of July is to take time each day (even if it is only 5 minutes) doing the things that I miss with my baby boy. Just me and him…

And I am going to resist the urge to smack anyone in the face.

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