Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Everyone can be an optimist when things are easy.
Okay, not everyone. Hubster is proof of that. I'll comment on what a beautiful day it is, and he will respond with something about how hot it will get, or how it won't last, or something else entirely pessimistic.
But it is easier to be optimistic when things are going the way they "should." When the boys are well-behaved, the cars both work, the weather is beautiful, and work is enjoyable.
This month has been none of those things. This month has pushed my ability to be optimistic to it's very edge.
My work this month has been more demanding than anything I have done previously. The people I am working with are some of the most difficult personalities I have ever encountered. My hours have been some of the longest I have ever put in, leaving when it's dark, coming home when it's dark practically every day.
The boys have reacted to my longer hours and other changes in their schedules by fighting more with each other. Monkey has had some regression in terms of sleeping and potty training. A lot of work around the house has fallen to Hubster, including the task of coping with the unwelcome changes in the boys' behavior. So Hubster has been a little more grumpy as well.
I've been so exhausted that my temper has been shorter, my desire to help cook and clean at home as been less. I come home and fall asleep shortly after, leaving little time to play with the boys (and even less time to blog.)
I dread going to work, mostly because of the people I'm currently working with.
I feel like I have every reason to fall into a pity party. There are days when I would just like to stomp my foot, and yell, and give up.
But I haven't.
I'm not saying that I haven't been grumpy. I'm not saying I haven't cried several times on my way home from work.
But I can't give up. I have to keep plodding on. And I have two ways I can do it. I can either cry, or I can laugh.
I'm doing my best to go with option 2.
And would you like to here something good about this month?
It's almost over.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I spent most of middle school and high school dreaming about attending an Ivy League school.
Of the onslaught of college recruiting material that arrived during the early fall of my senior year, the most treasured and poured over where pamphlets from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Stanford. (Okay, I know Stanford isn't technically Ivy League. But still...it's Stanford.)
I kept those particular recruiting packets long after I accepted my full-ride scholarship to the local state university.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude from my local state university, with the highest GPA earned by a female in the college of science. And I dreamed of attending medical school at UCSF, Mayo, or John Hopkins.
I applied to one medical school, and enthusiastically accepted a spot at a state medical school.
I worked hard during medical school and graduated with honors and Alpha Omega Alpha (or AOA, the national medical school honor society.) I had spent all of medical school picturing myself attending residency at Stanford (yep, there it is again), Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Mass General, or Mayo.
And then I matched into my top choice at a state program in the Midwest.
The decisions I made, compared to the ones I dreamed about, were made after weighing what was best for our family. There were times that I felt deeply disappointed. I had worked so hard, and had the ability to attend undergraduate, medical school, or residency at some of the biggest, most prestigious schools and programs in the country. But, for the good of my family (and ultimately even for the good of myself) I chose to attend less well known, more affordable state schools.
I wonder...does it really matter?
I attended public high school. I did not attend a rigourous, private, college prep school. But I still managed to get a full ride scholarship to a respected school. A state school, yes, but a good one.
I attended a state medical school. Many of my classmates had done their undergraduate at Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech, Yale, and Princeton. Those classmates had attended prestigious private programs while I had attended a state school. (And yes, I have on multiple occasions seen people say "state school" with a air of disgust or as a joke of mediocroty.) And yet, we had arrived at the same place in our lives.
I attended a state medical school, and now I attend residency along side individuals who trained at Brown, Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and UCSF. They did go to the prestigious programs. And yet, here we are, at the same point in our lives.
I never attended any of the places that filled my academic dreams as a teenager. And yet, here I am, the initials MD behind my name.
Does it really matter where we come from?
I don't want to belittle the experience of attending an Ivy League university. The culture and surrounding probably run deep and inspire.
But in the end, does it really matter?
Because in the end, where we go depends more on who we are then where we come from.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I come from a large family.
And when I say large, I mean "could have our own TLC show" type of large.
I'm the oldest of 10.
Yep, two whole handfuls of children. 12 of us all together, once you remember to count the parents.
I'll give you a while to take that it.
There are some downsides to being in a big family. There never seems to be enough space forever one. Never quite enough money for everything. And occasionally not enough time.
But the challenges never beat out the joys of having a large family. There are always enough people for board games (just sometimes no enough pieces, and then you improvise. I'll been the top hat, you be the shoe, and you can be rubber frog.) Happy birthday sounds so much better when sung by an entire choir (except when the choir consists of a couple of teenage boys, and then you just take what you get.) And there are enough for two teams in soccer, baseball, or basketball. And with that many birthdays, most of the year is spent in celebration. I always had the largest cheering section at all three of my graduations.
Most importantly, we always had friends. I'm not implying we always got along. Some sibling rivalries were more obvious and intense than others. I had siblings I always fought with and siblings I never fought with. But we never felt lonely.
I love my huge, crowded, loud, talented, chaotic, supportive, drama-inclined family.
But one of the strange things about growing up in a large family is the mind set that starts to set in. We felt bad for children in small families that only had one or two siblings. Or, heaven forbid, no siblings!
I grew up viewing parents who had one, two, or three children as selfish. They valued their time, money, and leisure more then their children. Career or pleasure topped the priority list above family. Small families were created by horrid people who valued peace and quiet more than they valued providing siblings and friends for their children.
I was determined to never be selfish. I was going to have a half dozen of my own children and create as many happy family memories as I had growing up.
(Remember, I was young, and like many very young people was prone to black and white images and a slight inability to view things for others point of view.)
I realized very soon after Bug was born that I was never going to have a huge family. I seemed to lack the pulled togetherness, resourcefulness, and patience of my own mother.
I love my two boys with a fierce, mother tiger like love. I am intensely proud of them, and nearly worship them.
But I came to realize that I was not cut out to be a leader of a very large flock.
And this is where it gets difficult.
I would really, really like another child. Monkey is three. And I can start to feel the baby hunger set in. I haven't felt that, well, since we decided to get pregnant with Monkey. Even when Monkey was two years old, I could hold other peoples newborns, cuddle and coo at them, and not feel one twinge of envy or baby hunger. But since Monkey is now mostly done throwing fits in the grocery store, nearly sleeping through the night, and for all intents and purpose potty trained, my brain has starting letting those TV commercials with wrinkly babies get to me.
Hubster and I have started talking about what our schedules look like over the next couple years, trying to get a good idea about when would be a good time to have another baby.
But I'm looking at 50-80 hour work weeks for the next four years, laden with overnight call at the hospital. Hubster is just finishing up some last minute requirements for his application to dental school.
If we were to have another baby in the next four to five years, that baby would spend a lot of time the same way Bug and Monkey have spent the previous four years. In daycare.
And then we ask ourselves...who's being selfish now?
Is it more selfish to continue with our plans for our careers and future and be content with our two boys? Or at least postpone baby number three four years until I am done with residency, have a stable job with some control over my schedule.? (That would make Bug 12 and Monkey 8 before we had baby #3, just to do some math.)
Or is it more selfish to give into the baby hunger and the theoretical chance of a much wanted girl (who would be just as wanted if they were a boy, just to make that clear) when they would be raised 8-10 hours a day by someone else? Just because we want another baby and would love her (or him) passionately and intensely, could we provide what is best?
Bug and Monkey are turning into well adjusted little boys, who play well with each other and others. Bug does amazing in school. They love each other and know that they are loved. They have done this even with years attending daycare behind them and in front of them. So I'm not saying daycare ruins children, or damages childhood.
But is it best?
When people ask why we decided to have children while still in medical school, we always replied: There is no right time to have children. There will always be reasons to postpone, put it off, delay it. There is no right time.
But maybe there is a wrong time.
I'm not exactly sure what time it is now.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I have done little wandering in my life. The majority of my life has been a straight path, one foot in front of the other, to a predetermined destination.
I've done little wandering. But I've spent a great deal of time feeling lost.
I used to feel so swept up by my life. That somewhere, long ago, I made a turn, a decision, chose a path. And everything else has just been the next step, the next logical decision. The steps felt so close together that I never got a good chance to look at them. Once I got on the path, for a time, everything stopped feeling like a choice.
During medical school, I kept thinking that I ended up there because it was the logical thing to do after college. Residency loomed ahead, like the next logical thing after medical school. My life felt like dominoes, falling one by one. Inevitable. And out of my control.
I felt like Frodo. Frodo made the decision to take the ring. But was anything after that really a choice?
There had been so little wandering.
I went straight from high school to college. Straight from college to medical school. The straight path, while not easy and exhausting most of the time, was still easier than veering from it. Deciding between the unhappiness looming in front of me or the fear of the unknown off the path was nearly impossible.
I felt afraid to be happy.
I ended up going to residency.
Which I guess means that there has still been little wandering.
But this is different. The crushing unhappiness I foresaw in front of me is gone, as if I came through a fog.
I could have not gone to residency. No one made me (besides the $200,000 worth of student debt. But other than that, no one made me.) I could have graduated medical school, and then done something different...stayed at home, graduate school, teaching. We talked about all those options.
And maybe that's why this is so different. It was actually a choice.
So there may still not be a lot of wandering. But I am also no longer lost.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
When Hubster and I first started dating, I loved everything about him. His humor, his honesty, his work ethic, the way he treated his mother.
Okay, I loved nearly everything about him.
He did own a gray and blue plaid shirt and a hideous pair of black loafers. Both of which he wore a little too regularly. Sometimes together.
I'm sure someone out there is going to shout, or at least think to themselves: Shallow! How could any one let clothes even be an issue?
I didn't. Obviously, they weren't that big of an issue, because I've been happily married to the man for 8 years.
But, seriously, if you could have seen these shoes and shirt, you would understand.
During the first year of our marriage, the black, now holey loafers, and plaid, now stained, shirt, somehow "disappeared." There is still no telling, even to this day, exactly what happened to them.
That shirt was not the only shirt to get lost, misplaced, or removed from the closet. Sometimes, Hubster knew. Sometimes he didn't. I justified the removal of holey T-shirts, lumpy sweaters, and strange patterned button up shirts with the fact that I replaced them with new, nice shirts. Gap, Eddie Bauer, and Express. Clothes any guy should love.
It took me two years to realize exactly what was going on. I was madly in love with Hubster. While not perfect, he was an amazing husband, and then father. He never complained. He never yelled, he worked hard, and whenever someone needed help, he never said no. Even with all that, I was falling into the trap that so many women do.
The hope we can change our husband.
Women who marry abusive men, who think if only they love the man enough, he will learn to be kind and gentle. Women who marry party boys, positive they can "domesticate" them. Women who marry workaholics, convinced that this is only a phase, that that someday, when they are successful, there will be time for children.
It also happens in the littler things. A woman wants her husband to be a reader of classic novels, or a travel enthusiast, or cooking show watcher. Women, who marry men with ugly clothes and think they can turn them into J. Crew models.
It took me a while to realize that I was trying to change Hubster into someone he wasn't. He was always going to be more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a old T-shirt than he ever was in a pair of khakis and a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled part way up. Fashion was never, ever going to be a big deal to him. I could have kept pushing. I could end up like the woman I knew who bought all her husband's clothes and laid them out for him each morning, because it was that important to her.
Or I could realize that I loved the person Hubster already was.
And that included his overly casual fashion (seriously...I've had to tell him that jeans were not appropriate for a wedding.) He continues to be one of the best people I know.
Even if he is still missing one pair of loafers.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Last week, it was Parent's Night at Bug's school. We love his school. The walls are painted floor to ceiling with brightly colored murals done by the children. The classrooms are everything you could imagine for an elementary school.
Near the front door, there is a bulletin board labels "Welcome to our new students." There are only five pictures on the bulletin board. Two children from schools across town. Two siblings from Michigan. And Bug, from Salt Lake City. Only five new children in the entire school (not counting the kindergartners, obviously.)
Talking to our neighbors, I initially got the feeling that people here stayed put longer than anything I was used to. All our neighbors sent their children to the same elementary school, the same high school, and still live here now that the children are in college.
Then I realized there is nothing strange about them.
There is something strange about me.
When people ask me where I'm from, I say Salt Lake City (or Utah, depending on how familiar they are with the geography). I didn't always have a good answer for that question.
I attended four different elementary schools, not including a year of private school, and two years of home schooling. In addition, I attending one junior high and two high schools. The longest I have ever lived at one address was five years. And that happened once. I have 16 moves under my belt with my family by the time I was 18 and moved out on my own, only to start the process over again.
After a life where moving vans and cardboard boxes are as routine as the beginning of the school year, the whole thing begins to develop a sense of normalcy.
Hubster and I have moved 7 times in our 8 years of marriage.
Sometimes it takes stepping onto solid ground to realize how much the boat was rocking. Our home feels steady. For the first time, we feel like we've reached port. And only in the looking back, have we come to realize how rough the ride has been.
We plan on staying put for a while. Bug, and maybe even Monkey, will complete the elementary school at one school.
I'm not going to make any promises that we will be able to put forever. There may be moves that mandate school changes. And I'm sure that those will provoke the same tantrums and tears that I put up every single move. But I am determined that those disruptions will be few and far between.
Because it feels good to be still.