I was in an administrator’s office on Friday. She is funny and sweet and a well known…how shall I say…conversationalist. When I go to her office, I go with plenty of time to hang out and chat. She is a mom, and we had bonded previously sharing anecdotes about breastfeeding and pediatrician appointments.
I looked to her for some commiseration when I was there, joking to her about how many of my childless peers would look at me in wonder and tell me in various ways about how amazed they are that I can pull it off, what with the two kids and all. I get various levels of praise, not all of which I am sure I deserve, and some people make me out to be some sort of superhero.
She looked at me with a suddenly serious expression and said, “No, seriously, how do you do it?”
She never went to medical school, but she works incredibly hard, organizing all of the clinic and doctor shadowing tracts for the entire first and second year classes. I thought she would get it.
I couldn’t have done it without my kids. Before I had kids, I went through about 2 driver’s licenses a year. If I was lucky, I would just lose the license and not the whole wallet. I cruised through life without a watch and was basically a disorganized mess. Having kids really grounded me.
Some mornings, when Z is melting down for the third time, S is sneaking Halloween candy, and I have to get all of my stuff ready for school, along with all of their stuff, including lunches, I think to myself “There is no other student in the program dealing with this crap right now!!”
But, then I see my classmates stumble into class later than me. Their lives are stressful. Many of them are uprooted from their hometowns and families. Some are trying to maintain long distance relationships and some are in the middle of breaking up. Some have no one to take care of them if they are sick, or no one there to talk to when they are taking a study break who isn’t another student. Many live alone.
I was reading a blog entry today by a friend who is have a stressful week as a mom. It reminded me SO much of what my life was like before medical school, when I worked at home. It was awful. I spent way too much time in front of the computer (granted, some of the hours were paid) and didn’t maximize my time with my kids. I felt unappreciated and unfulfilled. My relationship with my husband was suffering for many reasons, and I didn’t feel productive or feel like I had the time to do things I needed to get done, and it was hard to get out of my pajamas and get out of the house any day I needed to get anything done.
I find it SO much easier to be in medical school. I know that sounds crazy, but I do. Yeah, I have to study. A lot. I have to go to school every day. But I have done so much worse. I have commuted 3 hours a day to work a full time job, with a kid at home. I trained as a midwife and was gone one, maybe two full nights a week on top of my classes, not to mention a full day in the clinic and a full time job. Many of those nights were all nighters, which may involve a birth or two, not to mention cleaning the toilets and a few loads of laundry.
And, I have sat at home in my pajamas, been underployed with a nursing toddler and been depressed.
So, for me, I couldn’t have done this without being a mother. In fact, I think it is making me a better mother. I rush home and try to make dinner every night. I don’t go to the gym. I don’t go out much if at all. I haven’t seen a movie in the movie theater for more than a year, I would say. I have a wonderful husband who keeps up with the laundry and helps out with the kids. And, to be cheesy a bit, I am finally living out my dream.
So, I can’t imagine not doing it. The alternative is too stressful and depressing.