When I mentioned our move back into our home in Philly, I didn’t delve into what was next on the docket. Between the requirements for the Master of Bioethics and those for the research component of the Penn curriculum, I have roughly 80 pages of writing to complete by May 2015. In addition, when we left for Virginia, we took the kids out of daycare without any solidified childcare plans upon our return. So for the last two weeks, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, the first week of which was spent with John in Chicago. It’s been…an abrupt change for me.
Our babysitting plans for last Thursday, when I had an all-day residency interview, fell through. I frantically called anyone I could think of and, as a last ditch effort, emailed my med school class. I got an email back from a student I didn’t know. She was rejoining our class after completing most of a PhD and having a child herself. She was in between rotations, available, and happy to show up at my home at 6:30am before my interview.
I remain profoundly grateful. This instance is not the first time I’ve depended on the kindness of a near stranger, and I had only days prior relied on the generosity of good friends (more than who was mentioned in the linked post) to get our family through a rotation. As a mother, a med student, simply a member of our species, I have learned how to better ask for and accept help, and I’ve gotten better at resisting protest and just saying “thank you.”
But this hiccup also made me realize that I need to be more proactive (and feel less guilty/stressed) about setting up childcare if I’m going to attend my residency interviews and complete my med school requirements. I put up a job listing, have been interviewing sitters, and have already made some arrangements. I initially thought the babysitting time would be largely protected working time, and I hope it develops as such. But this week, most of the time got sucked up in doctors’ appointments, an MRI (btw, the avascular necrosis of the shoulder is stable, and this time I happily fell asleep in the disturbingly loud machine), and buying a new suit (my sweet grey linen Jackie O skirt suit, which I brought prior to my first real job interview and wore to every med school interview, is on it’s last leg).
I love our lives. I love the changes and new transitions, and basically that our chosen professions, not to mention our daughters, keep us on our toes. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like if John and I both had nine-to-fives (do they still exist in other professions?). Would we have a stronger marriage and happier lives if we slept in the same bed at the same-ish time of day, woke up and had coffee together, tag-teamed the kid duties, came home and had dinner together as a family, shared in the bedtime routines? Would our kids feel more secure if their routine was more standardized, if they didn’t wake up to a new babysitter they had only met once before (if at all), if they weren’t somewhat often relocated for rotations or interviews?
Ultimately, I think we’re okay. While the relationships within our family unit and our day-to-day development aren’t strain-free, there is, I hope, strength of heart and character derived from that. And–who am I kidding?–I’m sure families with the most stability and consistency experience their share of stress. The other families in our circles simply complain a lot less than I do.
More of these in the coming weeks…while at UVA, we were able to sneak in a family photo shoot with our good friend Julie. I love seeing our entire family in one frame, and getting a few pictures of the kids laughing that aren’t blurry beyond recognition!