I met my husband during his second year of medical school. I’d been a pediatric nurse all of six weeks so together we had a laughably small amount of medical knowledge. I worked pediatric ICU for seven years throughout his medical school and residency training. Now I am entering in my second year as a stay at home mom and my husband is in his third year as an emergency medicine attending at the only level one trauma center in the state.
Things have changed.
I am no longer a source of income, let alone the source of income. There’s a lot of mixed emotions in being a stay at home mom. Look to the social media account of any thirty something woman you know and you will see article upon article about how hard it is for women to work with kids, how hard it is to stay home, just how hard it is. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am beyond grateful of my ability to stay home financially and emotionally. My husband’s income, despite six figure med school debt, house payments, car payments, etc. provides us with a beautiful life. I will never be able to thank him enough for solely shouldering the burden of financially supporting us. But I would be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that misses giving our family a meaningful financial contribution.
I don’t regret being present for every milestone, many of which he experiences via video. I don’t take lightly the weight of being there to mold our little people each and every day. I am additionally so glad that my kids have their father to look to as an example of tireless work ethic. He never ceases to amaze me by attempting to balance his life despite his insane hours.
Oh those insane hours.
I write this on a Saturday during naptime. Everyone including my husband is asleep. He is on his third out of five night shifts in a row. He is currently working as many if not more hours as he did during his residency. There are no weekends or holidays in medicine. A fact I thought I fully understood having a nursing background. It’s a bit of a different lens to be the one at home waiting to celebrate Christmas on the 26th of December. Or knowing Saturdays and Mondays might be exactly the same. I have to check my jealousy sometimes when I see families out together on weekends knowing they get that time consistently every week. If it feels this way for me, I can’t imagine how it feels for him.
Here are some things that I have learned on this journey:
- I have learned that it’s the quality of time spent together not the calendar that defines a holiday.
- I have learned that #itgetsbetter used to describe life once medical school, residency and other training are complete isn’t always true. You are still married to the same person and married people sometimes have issues. That’s life whether you can afford McDonalds or Mortons.
- When I have a hard day, he often had a harder one. This is not to pit us in some sort of competition, but to recognize the love that must be present if he can come home from a shift with someone else’s literal blood, sweat and tears on his clothing only to listen to me talk about block towers and sanctimommy drama.
- His family comes first emotionally and as the most important factor in decision making, but cannot always come first in the traditional sense. During the final weeks of both of my pregnancies we had to have contingency plans for our contingency plans in the hopes that he would not have to miss the birth of his own children while caring for strangers.
- This is not a career path for the faint of heart. The training process alone adds 5 to infinite years post college graduation. The debt accumulation for medical education is insane. The mental exhaustion is astronomical. You better love it.
I am so proud of how far we have come. From study groups to moving across the country for residency, jumping through hoop after graduate medical education hoop, and finally landing back in Oklahoma his drive has not let up. I am in awe of the difference he makes every time he goes to the hospital. He works with some amazing colleagues that challenge and teach him constantly. The emergency department is no picnic. He is often facing ungrateful and difficult people for ten hours at a time. And yet, he still loves it. Switching schedules, coding patients, and saving lives.
Special Thanks to Mary Cramer Photography for capturing my family! Marycramerphotography.com