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Through October

Swim season was always tough.

Getting started with each school year is always tough to do—readjusting to routines, creating/executing lesson plans—but coaching swim added a whole new level.

The lack of a swimming pool meant we had to borrow lane time from the district next door, which meant 4:45 AM practices, which meant 4:00 AM wakeup calls in order to pick up the bus, then the kids who needed a ride, then coach for 90 minutes, then work a full day before getting home to be husband and later dad, entailing a whole slew of other activities. To say it was exhausting was an understatement. Some nights, I was in bed as early as 7:30 or 8:00.

And then the meets would start.

The first meet was typically held at the end of September with biweekly meets for the next several weeks, meaning that October was an extremely hectic and hurried month. And every year, Nicholle and I would feel the turning of the screw, the tightening of the stress on us as the days and weeks would wear on. Our (own) kids would feel it too, either directly or indirectly by my not being home or, when I was home, being too exhausted to be anything more than a collapsed lump on the sofa or bed; take your pick.

And every year, Nicholle & I would repeat what became our mantra:

Make it through October.

Weighing in at a full 31 days, October is considered by many to be their favorite month. And why not? Cooler weather, sports seasons underway, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween (or Reformation Day for some) tops it all off.

But it was the stress of swim meets, a new house, Nicholle’s new diagnosis with MS, and, eventually a new baby that just really compounded things, giving rise to the mantra, the drive to just makeit through October.

Not that November presented itself as a finish line of any sort. Quite the contrary, life was every bit as stressful, but it was just knowing we would make (or had made) it through such a challenging time that made it seem worthwhile to promote October to some sort of a benchmark.

Maybe it’s because, as the tenth month, it grants October that glimpse of the good that is to come, kind of like mile 20 in a marathon—regardless of if that marathon is tacked on at the tail end of an Ironman: Even though it’s way past the halfway point, it’s not until you get to that twentieth mile that you’ve overcome the wall that is mile 18 and realize you’ve only a 10k to go until the finish.

I recognize that on the other side of October is a whole lot of school year, but, right now, this is all about making it through 2020. Teacher or student or parent or anybody else, 2020 has been a godawful year if ever there has been one in recent memory.

Like many other things this year, making it through October 2020 will prove especially daunting. Heck, making it to October 2020 was a challenge in and of itself, and no time was wasted on showing just how grueling of a month it was gearing up to be. From the president contracting COVID19 to missing out on even a virtual Bike MS to my own sheer exhaustion (I left work early on Monday because I could not stand for more than five minutes; I began writing this post in an exam room of my GP, waiting for my own COVID screening; it eventually came back negative), I’m feeling pretty done with 2020. With a lot of things.

But those are just feelings, and feelings will pass, feelings will fade.

I just need to make it through October.

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