My wife has been studying for the clinical social work exam. There are 170 questions and the exam takes 3-4 hours to complete.

She came to me this morning feeling frustrated because she can never take a long enough stretch to complete an entire practice exam without being interrupted. She is constantly having to start and stop and deal with demands and distractions from the kids.

I didn’t have time to talk to her at that point because my next appointment was calling me. She left to study at a cafe, which helps with the distractions from the kids, but it’s noisy and has other distractions.

When I finished my session, I called her and apologized for not being able to talk earlier. Then I asked her what I can do to support her with her schedule.

This is one of the many reasons why being a mom is such hard work. It’s a job that never ends. There are always demands and distractions, which makes it extremely difficult to concentrate.

I get to lock myself in my room and work without being interrupted. Well, that’s not entirely true. I hear the kids scream in the hall and the dog going crazy when the doorbell rings, but I don’t have to get up twenty times during a session to pour a glass of water, wipe a butt, or make a snack.

Validating, empathizing and offering help goes a long way. It made Deb feel much better. Of course, there have been many times when I have dropped the ball. I always feel it is important to say this when I am writing about something positive that I have done because I have made so many mistakes over the past 15 years and will continue to make mistakes. That said, it felt good to have been able to step back and see and hear her when she needed it. It really doesn’t take much to make a difference.

David B. Younger, Ph.D is the creator of Love After Kids, for couples that have grown apart since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couples therapist with a web-based private practice, and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, 12-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old toy poodle.

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