Back of my mind

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When I was an undergrad, and then again when I was a medical student, I spent most of my times thinking about my children. Nearly every second was spent wondering if they were okay. How long Monkey continued to cry after he was dropped off at daycare? Were the other kids being nice to Bug? How did Bug's spelling test go? Did Monkey get his nap on time? What time was Hubster able to pick them up? Did they get dinner on time? It's bath night, did Hubster remember? Did they get read to before bed?

I resented every minute that medical school kept me away from my children and my husband.

Even when I took several months off and was home with the boys, I would think about Hubster a great deal. Wondering how his day was going, when he would be home, how that project or meeting went.

Since residency starts (a whole 11 days ago) I found myself realizing that I wasn't thinking of them as much.

I would have a quiet moment to sit down and get a drink of water and work on a patient's note, and suddenly realize that I hadn't thought about Bug or Monkey for several hours. Or nearly my entire shift.

And that realization bothered me.

Hubster and I have talked about this before. I would tell him that I thought about him and the boys practically all day long. And he said that he didn't. It wasn't anything against us or mean that he didn't love us or care about us. He just...didn't think us at work.

He thought about work.

I used to chalk this up as one of the many differences between men and women. That men were able to compartmentalize their lives easier than women were. That women worried more. That women were more attached to the people they loved.

And suddenly, I'm faced with the reality that that might not be true.

I've been trying to figure out why. Why, after I've spent years being angry about being gone and worrying about my children with every passing breath, am I suddenly not constantly fixated on how they are doing.

Hubster and I talked about this as well.

For the first time in my professional career, I'm actually responsible. I'm actually making decisions that can affect patients.

I'm also very busy. I've only had the chance to go eat lunch (or breakfast, depending on the shift) once out of my 10 shifts. I see 6-12 very sick, complicated patients a shift. And then there are the consults to call, the labs to order and review, the prescriptions to order, and the notes to write.

And, for the first time, I am the one responsible for providing financially for our family. It really makes a difference when you know that you are being paid for the time you put in. And not paying for it with student loans. There is a lot less resentment there when you are being reimbursed. (And I know, I know...I signed up to be a medical student, I asked for it, it was what I wanted. But that doesn't mean that it is a very difficult, degrading, humiliating, exhausting process.)

It could be any of those things. Maybe just one of them, maybe all of them.

Hubster agreed. He said that when he was doing his job, that's what he was doing.

But I thought of another thing. In the first time in 6 years, our children are being taken care of, at home, by someone who is truely invested in them.

I think that knowing Hubster is home with Bug and Monkey has taken some of the worry that constantly nagged at the back of my mind. He knows that Bug likes only peanut butter and not jam on his sandwich. That Monkey needs to take a 2 hour nap at 1:30. That Bug has a special shirt he likes to wear on Saturdays. That Monkey needs his stuffed dog to fall asleep.

To know that my children are safe and loved and happy takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. Weight that I didn't even recognize I was carrying until I noticed, suddenly, that it had disappeared sometime over that last 11 days.

I don't think this means I'm a bad mother.

I need to be focused at my job. I need to learn everything I can to be a better physician.

My children may not be in the front of my thoughts constantly like they used to be.

But they are always with me.


Karen said...

I'm not a mom, so I don't know exactly what you mean or what you're feeling. But I think it's a good thing that you're able to go to work and focus on work rather than worrying about the kids the entire time. It definitely doesn't make you a bad mother. Just a less stressed out one.

todavine said...

It is a good thing that they aren't always in your thoughts. That just means that you know and trust that they are in good hands and are being well taken care of. Definitely dosn't make you a bad mom.

Bonnie said...

You don't think about breathing or your heart beating unless those systems are at risk. Likewise,your children aren't at risk, you can trust that your children are safe and loved. If they weren't, nothing would keep out the worry.
You are a good mommy with healthy skills. XOX