When the family pitches in

In the last article, the second of three parts, it provided some important insight into Jasper’s life. He worked a third-shift job and then arrived home to see his children and wife, Jill, off to their days. He performed domestic caretaking duties for a cat and dog, then the home itself. He slept four hours, give or take, then he rose to meet after-school responsibilities as well as dinner. He really didn’t get to say anything about evening hours.

Did he nap? Of course, I didn’t yet broach the subject of a reason for entering therapy.

The third session took place at 9 a.m., at his request. I wondered if the time with me neglected domestic duties. When I said goodbye to my 8 a.m. client, Jasper was not in the waiting room. Within 10 minutes, Jasper came through the door like he was on a mission. “Sorry doc. I ran late with walking Maxine.” I accepted his apology and led him into my office. He sat back and let out some air, “Whew … man … I’m beat, doc.” I asked him about his night at work. “Great, doc. Met my quota again.”I asked him if he saw his children and wife off to their respective day. “Yes sir, doc. Got to feel blessed.” Blessed about what, I added? “Blessed that I can see my kids and Jill. Hate to miss them and wait till later in the day.”

I asked him about his second session portrait of his day. “Where did I leave off, doc? Oh yeah. Well, I start dinner and then pick up the kids. While they do some schoolwork, I finish dinner. They can’t wait for Jill so I feed them around 5:30 p.m. I wait for Jill for my dinner around 6-6:30 p.m. We eat together, visit and talk about our day. The kids watch television or play with their tech toys.” They go to bed around 9-9:30 p.m. Jill does some paperwork and bills. Sometimes, she’ll call her folks who live in another town. I watch television and rest my eyes ’til 10:30 p.m. I pack my lunch, kiss Jill goodbye and drive to work.”

Jasper looked almost out of breath. I asked him how long he’d been following this described schedule. “Oh, about two to three years, doc.” I followed with a simple statement. Your life sounds full, yet exhausting. For a moment, Jasper sat back in his chair and sighed. He had nothing to say. Reality slapped him upside his head.

I asked him whose idea it was to call for counseling and therapy. “My wife, doc. She says I’m too loud and get angry real easy with her and the kids.” Yes, some useful information was at hand. Jasper admitted that he’d been “snapping at the kids and Jill.” Jasper sat back and we talked about a plan for continued therapy. He came initially at Jill’s encouragement. I suggested that Jill join us at a future session to explain her concerns and to be an active participant in Jasper’s therapy. Additionally, I requested that he get a complete physical to rule out any medical matters his exhaustive schedule may have brought on.

Jasper agree to both. Jill came in the next week. She took time off from work. Jasper made a medical appointment. In the coming weeks, we would assess Jasper for any medical problems, given consent to receive information from his primary care physician. He and Jill would spend time renegotiating his daily schedule to allow for more sleep. Surely, the accumulative sleep loss had an effect in Jasper’s mood and temperament. This was a family busy with life. A third-shift employment meant sleep was necessary while other family members were gone. Jill and Jasper, in time, got the children more involved with domestic chores and responsibilities. They reviewed the gradual changes as the months rolled on ahead. The challenge facing a busy family man was renegotiated with an open mind. Jill came to understand the root of Jasper’s moods. Here was a tired man who needed sleep. Thankfully Jill had Jasper’s best interest in mind. Thank you.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com