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Family, Health, Life, School

Doing okay

10.22.10 | 2 Comments

We made it through the first block of exams. It was a rough few weeks… I’m still not super proud of all my grades, but half of them were pretty good. The ones that are lower mostly reflect my lack of preparation, meaning there’s plenty I can do to fix it. Which is good. Getting sick right before my birthday was detrimental. And I’m sick again. At the moment I’m waiting until someone at the quack shack clinic can see me for what I suspect is tonsilitis. It’s always involving the throat because of postnasal drip. So I’m starting my allergy regimen again – it’s ragweed season, apparently – and wow this is both too much information and not at all interesting.

What I sat down to say, despite my other, more reflective topics in the queue to write about, is something I realized in the last five minutes: I’m doing okay. In talking to the other student-parents, I’m convinced that despite my extreme guilt at times, I’m spending some quality time with Zoe, and seemingly MORE time than my “peers” are with their kids. Not that I’m competing with them at all – that’s not the point.

Let me say that I love Dads. I love my Dad, Zoe’s Dad, his Dad, and most of the men I know who are Dads are good people. Just to let everyone know I’m no manhater before I say the rest. I’ve said before that it’s easier for the Dads. Dads don’t have the same expectations. They’re typically not the stay-at-home gender (though there’s nothing wrong with that), and everyone understands when they work or spend less time with the kids. Because they’re working. Even in a double income household (whether equal earning or not), more of the kid/home/cooking/shopping responsibilities fall to the woman. The why of this phenomenon is a topic for another time (and I have my opinions). So it’s no surprise to me when I talk to the other students with children that the response from Dads is different than from the Moms. Today I heard, “My kids don’t really bother me that much. I mean, probably because they’re used to me not being around. So when I am there, they just expect me to be working, so it’s pretty easy to get my work done.” Not judging, but WOW. Totally different than my life. From another Mom (of THREE, one of them a newborn; excuse me while I hyperventilate) during exams, “I’m pretty sure the baby’s going through that whole reactive attachment disorder we learned about in behavioral.” She was kidding. On the square. And that’s why I wanted to cry.

My first first year, there were four Moms to my knowledge, and plenty more Dads. Last year there were two of us repeating, plus a new one (the aforementioned Mom of three). In the current first-year class, there is one Mom of two – Zoe’s age and an infant – and maybe a few Dads (I haven’t confirmed that). It’s strange, because from the very first day of school, I saw her and knew she was a Mom. I finally stopped her in the hall a few weeks ago to do the secret handshake and offer support. She needs it.

My school appears to be changing their selection criteria (also another topic for a non-public venue) to those that probably would have excluded me. (Perhaps wisely. I don’t make the scores. But let’s judge ten years into practice, shall we?) Maybe that’s why we’re seeing fewer Moms. Is it a bad idea for women in medicine to have kids? Should we revert to the all-male, paternalistic profession? People make it work – but is the sacrifice too great, on either side? Would I make better grades if I weren’t a Mom? Would I be a better Mom if I weren’t pursuing medicine? Don’t worry – no matter the answer to these questions, or perhaps because of my own answers, I’m staying. If I were going to quit by now, Lord knows I would have. When I get the urge to quit these days, I just pull out the old master promissory note, and that’s a nice therapeutic slap in the face. So the answer is mu.

During the exam crunch time studying, I don’t see Zoe as much, but at the end of the day I know we’re okay. Plus it gives her some extra Daddy-Daughter bonding time. Maybe it’s a personality/viewpoint difference – maybe others have different expectations for themselves as mothers or have maturity I don’t have, and they’re able to focus and study even when they don’t see their kids. Again, not judging. Just a difference. But it’s not what I want for myself and for Zoe. Despite the rigorous demands of these didactic years, my time is mostly my own. I still have to cover the mountains of material somehow, but it’s up to me when I do it. Third year: my ass belongs to the hospital. I’ll be gone for 36 hours at a time during some rotations. So I’m soaking up my time with her while I can, and I’ll find other ways next year.

This may sound like a broken record: I have some a ton of work to do to improve my grades and be more efficient with my study time. It may require crack. But I have a feeling that even when I’m applying for residency and presenting my meager scores, I’ll have few regrets about how I spent my time.

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