So, it’s exam time in our little corner of the world. Rob is taking his tests this week to finish out his third year of medical school. Holy cow! Third year is almost over! The exams are always a particularly high stress time for everyone in the household and tend to test all of our patience and resolve. There’s so much on the line with these examinations, that it’s hard to keep cool and calm about it.
Rob has learned through this medical journey, though, how to handle The Overwhelm with increased repose. He’s found a bit more space for non-school things in the midst of the chaos.
But before exam week even started, it seemed that many conversations with my friends and family ended up on the subjects of work, life, and parenthood, and a common feeling seemed to emerge: days are long, years are short.
And I’m not saying this just because I wake up at 4am! This feels true in my life often, even before my early mornings. Strangely, the early mornings actually make my days feel less long. But anyway…
Back when Rob joined the Navy, it was an initial five-year commitment which at the time, seemed like an eternity. Those Navy years were a challenge – many weeks and months spent apart and stressors galore thrown in. When it came time to decide if he would separate from the Navy and move on to the next thing, or stay in longer, it was a hard choice. Side note: I love that the military uses this word – it sounds like such a strong relationship that would be ending – separate. Moving on…
We knew that military life (definitely submarine life) was not for him or for us, but hubs needed some time to find what was right for him.
I remember many long discussions about renewing his commitment for just a shore duty (2-3 years), listing all the positives and negatives. We kept coming back to the fact that even though the last five years had been challenging, they really flew by. What was another 2-3 to add to that?
Long story short, we took the shore duty and spent a total of seven years in the Navy. Those Navy days felt really long and were hard, but flew by. They now seem like another lifetime.
Now we have two other experiences to challenge us daily: parenthood and medical school.
Some people advise not to have kids in medical school, and I get where they’re coming from, especially if you’re a traditional student. If you’re like us though, we’re in our 30’s and this is our time. We have to make it work.
The early days with Pookie did feel long. She needed so much of my physical strength – holding her, feeding her, and losing sleep to help her. It was draining, but before I knew it, six months had gone by and then another six. Starting around a year, I felt she started needing more of my mental strength than physical. She was, and is, increasingly curious, learning and testing everything. It seems her current mantra is, “What happens if I do this?”. Even though she’s so fun and adorable, after hours of these “What if?” explorations, I’m beat.
But then I meet someone and they ask how old Pookie is. It’s hard to realize that she’s almost a year-and-a half.
Then, someone will ask how medical school is going for Rob, and I realize that by this time next year, we’ll know where Rob will do his residency and what the next 3-4 years will look like for us. He’s almost Dr. Rob!
Savor the precious moments, right? I guess that’s part of it, the other part though, seems to be embracing those long days.
Life is a series of long days. I want to find a way to enjoy them, instead of escape them.
This idea reminded me of a video I saw years ago called “This is Water” which is an excerpt from a graduation speech given by David Foster Wallace. It’s a bit of a dramatic, not-sugar-coated reality check, but every time I watch it, it reminds me of my true goal:
I’m not going to wait for things to get “better” or “easier.” I’m going to learn how to find joy in each and every long day. Sometimes I won’t be able to, and that’s ok. I’ll keep trying.
Virtual hugs to all those with partners being challenged this week! It’s sometimes hard to be the rock they need during these times, but just give what strength and love you can. It’s enough. 🙂