This one is for the mom whose only alone time with your husband is spent asleep.
For the mom who watches the clock, hoping he will make it home before the kids go to bed.
For the mom crying alone in the bathroom, because you don’t want to add to his stress.
You are not alone.
When you make the decision to go to graduate school, you expect it to be difficult. You’ve heard it all before, from every friend or family member who has been there, and done that. You do your best to prepare yourself for the years ahead, but that isn’t really possible, is it? Be it Law School, Medical School, or wherever you find yourselves, this is probably one of the most stressful times (if not THE most) you will weather as a family. You are bone tired, both of you. You long for the days when your work ended as you walked out the office door. Some days are good, and some days you may feel like you’re drowning. If you’re having one of the “drowning” days, here are a few things that can help lift you up:
Your partner is busy, but so are you. Realize that you both have needs and schedule them in. For me, one thing I need is help around the house. At 39 weeks pregnant, there are some things that I can’t do. I am very clear and upfront about how much help I need to feel supported, and he makes the time to do those things. For him, he has an overwhelming amount of work to do, so we keep a joint digital calendar that includes scheduled studying blocks. This way, you both know when he has a little free time. And as a couple, we always include a scheduled date night, which usually consists of a movie at home. Schedules keep us from disappointment and frustration, and I would consider this the most important skill to master early on.
Look for the Light
The greatest blessing of graduate school is that you have a concrete light at the end of this very long tunnel. My husband is a law student. I have known from day 1 when he will graduate, and have been constantly keeping my eye on that goal. Recognize what a true blessing this is. Your family is putting the work in now, to give yourselves opportunities in the future. It will be hard – really hard – but when it’s all said and done, you will have a degree that will boost employability and give you hope for the future.
Your spouse is busy. Your kids keep you busy. Maybe you work during the days, and devote your nights to your children. Whatever your situation, it’s easy to get sucked into an endless wheel of responsibilities (even the enjoyable ones, like your kids). Eventually, everyone has a breaking point where the wheel comes crashing down. Your best bet is to get ahead of it, and take your needs seriously before you are forced to do so. If you are feeling particularly frustrated, it’s okay to ask for help. Take a night off. Go to Target, or a movie, or both! If you can’t wait until bedtime, and your husband absolutely cannot help, call up a friend. Make it happen. Which leads me to…
Take your mental health seriously
There are certain times in life that we can be pushed to our limits. Maybe this is one of those times for you, maybe it isn’t. If it is, there is absolutely NO shame in recognizing that you are struggling, and looking for help. Therapy can be a useful tool for many who feel this way. Maybe exercise is the key to helping you release stress. Maybe you may have reached a point where you’ve become too anxious or depressed to handle on your own, and that’s okay. Consider talking to your doctor about the possibility of trying out a medication routine to get you through this time. The most important thing is that you take the steps to keep yourself healthy and happy, and if this is what you need to do that, GO FOR IT.
We are all so unique, and our lives are our own. But for this moment in time, I understand your struggle. You understand mine. And we aren’t alone. I hope you find (or have found) a routine that will help you weather this storm stronger than when you first arrived. And I hope you know that I’m cheering for you.