My mother made a point of never sitting down to watch a movie at home. She’d stand up and iron while the rest of us sprawled on the sofa, and she’d make virtuous comments about herself not wasting time.
So I feel guilty if I’m not achieving something. That’s helpful in an emergency doctor, but boring in real life. And really a struggle with kids.
Not a struggle on a level with Syria, but an everyday tussle. Like after the first day of school, while Matt was at band practice, I was trying to fill out one billion forms for school, scan those forms so I can just print them out next year, make food for my next few shifts, and force the kids to make their own lunches and then get themselves ready for bed.
That meant I was screaming at my beloved offspring.
Anastasia kindly peed on the floor both earlier in the evening, during a fascinating bout of TV, as well as in the middle of the night.
As a new mom, I used to find it confusing when grandparent acquaintances told me to “enjoy every minute.” Because a lot of minutes are dull, or irritating. But I recognize that they’re still my minutes and my kids. There are two anonymous sayings I contemplated a lot when my kids were small:
Having children is like wearing your heart outside your body for the rest of your life.
The days are long. The years fly by.
My son is nine years old. He biked to the bus stop instead of walking. He’s so tall now, he comes up to my lips. He wants to stay up late and sleep in, like a teenager! He even smells a little bit like a teenager!
My daughter is coming on five years old. She loves to chat. The other day, I called a woman because I’d spotted her lost dog, and Anastasia insisted on talking to her. Anastasia has vivid dreams about snow, exploding batteries, and her dad riding his motorcycle into the water for a contest.
I don’t want to miss my kids growing up because I was so busy working on medicine and writing. But I’m also very ambitious. I get twitchy if I haven’t written my thousand words a day. Once my friend Genevieve, who is a gifted mother, was explaining how she spent her days with her kids, and I was like, “But don’t you get so angry if you haven’t achieved something every day for your career?”
Genevieve said, “I’m not like that. I get a little crazy if I don’t get to socialize with my friends. But my career, no.”
That was a revelation to me. I realized that some people go home after work and relax. They watch TV for fun. Because I’m not my mother (I hardly ever iron), but I basically never used to watch TV, either.
I try to balance it out by writing or studying a little each day, and then I’m free to hang out with my kids. This summer, I’ve been more about R&R than writing achievement. I think it’s because I ended up working too much in the ER.
I like medicine, writing, and having children. I know I wouldn’t be happy if I could only have one of the three. Right now, 3/3 is pretty awesome. Even though I ended up walking in pee twice last night.
But it’s not easy. And kind of ironic, since The Medical Post asked me if I could write columns on balance. Every day, I’m trying to ride that high wire.
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play.
—Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand (19th Century Writer/Diplomat)
#tryingtomasterlife. Mistress life just doesn’t have the same ring to it (yet). Speaking of which, check out advice from my other Bullish sisters.