Our guest post is has come at the perfect time for me personally. Tom is in his last month of rotations before four major board exams. Yes, FOUR! Loneliness is definitely felt during this time. Let me introduce you to Meredith, a pediatric nurse turned stay at home mom to two littles and wife to ER doc, Travis. There is not a glass of pinot noir, aisle of Target, or block of cheese she does not love. Follow her as she attempts to find grace in the messy side of motherhood over at www.motherhoodbymeredith.com.
There’s a lot of jealousy that comes up as I watch intact families stroll through home improvement stores or file into church pews on Sunday mornings, while I struggle to independently child wrangle. Because weekends don’t exist in medicine at least not in the specialty my husband felt called to or in any part of training. That jealousy left unchecked can turn special moments with my children and the wonderful lifestyle we are afforded through medicine bitter and resentful. And those are two things I certainly do not want to be.
I will be the first to admit as an ex-ICU nurse, I really thought I had the medical life down. No holiday is sacred. Nights are not for sleeping. No problem. This all of a sudden got harder when we were dating. Harder still when we got married and medical school gave way to residency in a town with no support system. Add in a family, and even the financial ease of being done with training doesn’t heal all hardship. There are some things I have learned along this journey that have greatly helped me, however. I don’t say this because I have mastered my jealousy. Or because I don’t sometimes wish he’d felt called to a job in accounting, but in the hopes that my mistakes and stumbles may save women along a similar path some heartache.
Find Your People
Whatever this may look like, find your people. Friends that you can call when your three year old is being well, a three year old. Or when surgery runs long…again. Most of my friends have spouses with traditional hours and that works fine, but I do need that venting time. Those friends that get it. That understand that this life is a commitment not just for the physician or physician in training, but the family unit as a whole. The ones who understand what it feels like to look at a calendar and make the choice to request off for either Thanksgiving or your daughter’s first birthday, knowing you may get neither.
One group of women that has helped me tremendously is joining my local chapter of Side by Side Bible Study. I wasn’t particularly “churchy” at the time, but I felt immediately welcome nonetheless. I’d encourage you to check it out if that interests you.
Feel Proud When You Rock It Alone
When my daughter was four weeks old, I took her and my then not yet two year old to two birthday parties solo in one day. I had mastitis and I cried probably five times that day, but I did it. By myself. Even though I felt totally crumby, as anyone that has ever had mastitis can attest. I was so proud to have survived that day that I washed my antibiotic and some Motrin down with a teeny tiny glass of wine. The same goes for days when we make it to church without Daddy on time and relatively clean. Somedays you fail, but the important thing is to keep trying and feel proud of yourself.
Seek Help When You Need It
My independence has blossomed as a medical spouse as well. I have found and utilized resources that other wives/mothers may not have to that have made my life a lot easier. We are fortunate to be in a position to send our oldest to Mother’s Day Out, I get regular baby sitters for date nights or girl time, and I use a drop in day care service for appointments or babysitting when my husband is unable to relieve me. Depending on your budget and phase of training some of these options may be less available, but another option is babysitting trades with other medical spouses or family if available.
With the #ERwifelife, our family schedule runs one way and my husband’s shifts march to the beat of an entirely different drum. This leaves me with a lot of nights and weekends to be independent either with the kids for evenings and dinner or alone after bedtime. There are plenty of times where resentment creeps in to this solo time, especially those young childhood witching hours of evening. I know when these feelings overwhelm me it’s time for a break. That’s when I utilize the drop in sitter or dinner with another med wife and kiddos eating solo that night.
Embracing My Me Time
I say all this, but I have come to really treasure my alone time after bedtime. Some nights are a glass of wine and a pile of laundry with old Friends reruns. Other nights are working on my blog. Others still are a long shower and good book. No one to tell me my shows are too girly. No one to laugh at my terrible selection of murder mystery audiobook. Though my husband is pretty used to all of these quirks after ten years together. Mostly this is a time to catch up or simply to catch my breath.
It’s a mature skill to learn to be alone. Not one at which I always excelled. Another perk it offers, is a true joy and embracing of the evenings I do get to spend with my husband. I try to not do chores or blog work those nights so that we can spend time together
starring lovingly at each other catching up on some awesome Netflix. This life has a lot of challenges, but can be a beautiful one if you know where to look. When I struggle most I pray for patience, grace, and remind myself that this is exactly where I am meant to be.