It’s yet another USAF drill weekend, which always serves to highlight that I’ve got way too much going on right now. Let’s review:

  • Full-time job? ✔
  • Interviewing for another job?

    Not any more!

  • Part-time job with the Air Force? ✔
  • Fitness test requirements because of that military job? ✔ 😭
  • Four children? ✔
  • Working on a Master’s Degree? ✔
  • Dishes, laundry, and general cleaning? ✔✔✔
  • Free time? ❌

😔 Sigh. It’s rough, I tell ya. I manage to get it all done, but it takes a lot out of me. All the stress of getting it done has me realizing that I need that fabled work-life balance everybody talks about. Well, more like work-life-military-school-children balance - but still, I’ve got to rebalance some things.

Part of it is that I need help with my oldest. He has disabilities that make it really hard to get people who can care for him. The result is that even in my off-time I’m basically on guard duty, constantly keeping an eye and an ear out for trouble that he may need help with. And then I have to wait until he goes to sleep to do school, and by then I just want to relax with my wife, not write papers.

Part of it is the constant background stress of military obligation. Don’t get me wrong - Tricare is great insurance, and the extra pay isn’t bad - but knowing I have to take a fitness test every so often stresses me out. I try to eat fewer calories and work out to stay in shape, but I am not a runner. I will do literally any other cardio if left to my own devices, but that Air Force requires a 1.5 mile run, and I hate it. It was easier when I was Active Duty and we did fitness as a group - I ran a few miles every other day like it was nothing back then - but now that I have to mix it in with all my other obligations it is a chore that I really don’t need.

And this master’s degree. A couple posts back I complained about going back to school, and I know it’s my own fault. I should’ve finished college when I had the free time, but now I’ve painted myself into a corner. The good news is that this particular stressor has an end in sight - nine classes and I’m done. I’m almost finished with my first, so I just have to do that eight more times. I can do that.

And the military? There is an option to switch to inactive Reserves. I’ve been thinking really seriously about that. Is the great insurance worth the constant stress? Maybe not. Maybe I’ll request to go inactive and get that stressor out?

And my son? I’m still young enough to lift and take care of him, but that’s a ticking clock. As he enters adulthood there will be more care options that open up - things designed for grandparents who need daily care. This job at Google is a first step towards higher salaries that could enable me to hire full-time help. One day, I’ll get all the joy of cuddling and playing with my son and none of the stress of essentially being an unpaid patient care tech.

So I breathe and remind myself - all this stress is temporary. I’m starting to see some light at the end of these tunnels, and even knowing that the end is in sight is a calming thing. And when I finally come out on the other side, the stress I’m going through today is going to have big payoffs. I’m already seeing the benefits of military service in the way I’ve learned to interact with people. My empathy has grown so much because of having to devote myself to my son’s care. And I know my degree will open doors that would otherwise be closed.

It’ll all be worth it. I’ll be alright. I just have to get a little further - and I will get there, one step at a time.



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