Monday, May 24, 2010

Life is Not a Race and Nobody is Keeping Score

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score.

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score.

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score.

I heard this quote a few weeks ago on Miami Medical... Have you seen Miami Medical? It's a very good ER type show. Anyway, from the moment I heard this quote, it's been rattling around in my head, trying to fold itself into my world view (your world view is the set of ideas and beliefs that formulate what you think about yourself in contrast with the world around you, and your world view greatly influences how you interact with the world around you). 

I've never been a very confident person, and the mounting stress of paying for this big medical school move, as well as the challenges that I know I'll face in medical school has been consistently and repeatedly dealing heavy blows to my self confidence. 

At the end of the day, I know we'll make it through the move. I know that I'll start school and love it, because I've always loved school and never shied away from a challenge. But what I'm the very most afraid of is what I'm giving up to chase this dream. I'll be 31 when I graduate medical school. I'll enter residency and work 90 hours a week while earning $25,000 -$40,000 a year for the next 4-5 years.  I will be 35-36 when I finish residency and $300,000 in debt and earning less than I do now. Should I choose to sub-specialize in something like cardiology or neonatology, I will then spend the next 4-5 years earning $50,000 - $75,000 and still working 90-100 hours a week. I will be 39-41 when I finish my fellowship.

Where in all of that am I going to find time to be a mother who is fully present. To care for my home, or for that matter to even be able to afford a home. To cook and clean and exercise and enjoy life. As much as I want to be a doctor, the price in this moment feels very great. I will be giving many, many years of my life to those hospital walls. I will put my family second to save the lives of strangers. I know there are plenty of women physicians who have children, but I cannot imagine working a 90 hour week and having a child. Leaving the preppy boyfriend with the burden of caring for both child and home. The preppy boyfriend is himself a little unsure about this future... I think he's always sort of had it in his mind that he would marry someone who would be a stay at home mom. This career path of mine, seems to be shaking his self confidence as well... and I wonder is there going to be a point at which we both stop smiling through it, a point at which neither he nor I can handle the insecurity of this crazy medical future ahead of us. And what then... then I'll be a work-a-holic resident, coming home to an empty house at the end of the day with only my little dog for company. 

I feel like I'm setting myself up to lose the race... and that if someone were keeping score on my present life and my future life, by the time all is said and done, when I reach my mid to late 30's and all of my peers are established and owning homes and have children who are 5-8 years old, I will be just starting out all over again. As though my life will perpetually be this process of scraping by and starting new again and again. The score on my life at that point, childless, work-a-holic, non-homeowner, drowning in debt... would be negative. And I wonder, I stop and wonder is what I'm willing to give up worth what I'm going to become? If life is really not a race, and nobody is keeping score... do I still have all the same reservations about what I'm sacrificing here? I'm giving up the part of me that wants to be a diva of domesticity. The part of me that wants to be a stay at home mom, cooking and cleaning, and scheduling play dates, and Dr's appointments, running to football practice, and cheerleading competitions, and spelling bees, helping with homework, and preparing after school snacks.

 In moments of complete vulnerability and absolute honesty I also realize that I might just be giving up this man I love... this strong willed, career minded woman, might just be too much for his southern sensibilities... in those moments my heart flip flops with fear, and my stomach sinks, and all I can say is...

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score...

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score...

Life is not a race, and nobody is keeping score...


Anonymous said...

Wow - this is such a touching post. I'm so sorry you are going through so much mental and emotional turmoil right now.

I know it will be a different life than the one you imagined, but if medicine is truly your passion, I just can't imagine that you will be worse off for pursuing it.

The loans will get repaid. That is one of the big benefits of medicine. (You can even find some practices that will repay your loans for you post-residency.)

You CAN have a family and be a wonderful parent. I know many women who had children while in med school or residency. It can be done.

And I believe you will be a better wife and mother if you are following your dreams. If you are fulfilled and challenged in your work life, you should be much happier.

Hang in there! And email me if you want to "talk" more about it. I can at least shed light on what your boyfriend may go through while you are training.

Chloe said...

I share the same hang ups. when I think about what I want out of life, nothing meshes with being a doctor. that stands alone, and seems unable to coexist with being a wife, a mother, and a human being.

it terrifies me.

Bumpkin on a Swing said...

I with lifeofadoctorswife.
The loans will get repaid, the babies will be born, you will find time to stretch yourself thin to be everything you want to be.
This is your dream, don't settle for anything less! We love you Doc!

LPC said...

This is such a big topic. All I can say is that it's not all or nothing. You may get your degree, take some time off for kids, go back to practicing, etc. Part-time is hugely possible for some kinds of doctors. And in retrospect, although I would have liked more time at home and one more baby, my becoming a working mother was great for my children. So maybe add to your mantra - it's not all or nothing. The person who walks the road builds the road.

Kitchen Belleicious said...

Hey girl! Visiting from my friend Trish blog. Saw your comment and thought I would stop by! Loving the blog and the chicken salad is something I MUST try next! Hope you are having a fab day and keep in touch! I am your newest follower! XOXO Jessica

Jane said...

Umm ... sometimes I swear we might be the same person. This time last summer I might have spent an afternoon wandering around my neighborhood consuming the better part of a bottle of sweet tea vodka. My dad had been in Ireland for a few weeks and called to check on me and I had a minor breakdown on the phone. My mom spent a while driving around my neighborhood looking for me. I cried in her car for 3 hours.

One year later ... I'm an MS-2 and 29 years old. I made it. There are days where I think about freezing my eggs (my mom had a radical hysterectomy at 34 and my little sister is probably getting ready to have one), there are days where I wonder if I'll ever be able to be in a serious relationship, there are days where I wonder why in the world I'm doing what I'm doing. Then, I look around and realize that I am absolutely surrounded by amazing people with exactly the same fears, worries, and dreams. We are doing it together. And we'll get through it together.

And, at our residency fair a couple months ago, the lowest PGY-1 salary was 40something thousand and we are in the cheapest part of the country ... so maybe that will make you feel a bit better!

And finally, I'm going to be in Austin at the end of June ... please tell me you'll still be there!!!!!

Jane said...

Someone just sent me this and I figured I'd share it with you!

Kristin said...

I think you're amazing lady! One of my besties graduated medical school at 30. You're life is just beginning. To go after your dream is totally worth the debt. You will pay it off and you will have a career that fulfills you!

AEOT said...

Oh darling, I would be feeling the exact same way you are. It does seem late to be kicking off a med school start, but who says that being a doctor at 27 is any better than being one at 37? You are doing what you are passionate about and feeled called to do. That alone is worth a lot.

I work with a pediatrician who works 3 days a week and is home with her daughter the other 2 and it works really, really well for her. You can do part time medicine- people are killing for docs right now. Trust me. And if you want to be a pediatric Pulmonologist in Grand Rapids, I can guarantee you a job!!!

As for PBF, that's hard. You won't lose him- it just won't happen. But I can definitely see how the conflict exists for both of you. Do you give up what you are called to do? Does he give up his perception of his ideal family? Where is the compromise, and who makes it? That's a LOT for both of you and to be honest, I know the two of you can figure it out together. You just have to have lots of talks and see how it goes. Yes, residency is going to be extrodinarily time consuming (so have that baby now girlie!), but people do it (and have kids) all the time. Just try to get into a residency close to where you have family or friends to help. It'll make it easier. (Seriously, move here!! GR has a residency program through Michigan State, and PBF could find a great job as a chef at any of the new restaurants that GR is producing- it's really a great town!)

Thinking of you and all this that is falling on your heart and mind right now!

d.a.r. said...

This is an amazing and real post, I really love it (and you!) for the bravery and emotion you put into it. I am so sorry you are going through so much mental and emotional agony...I know the feeling, different events, but the raw emotions and fears are the same.

Take it one day, one semester, one year, one step at a time. It's a big freakin' thing, but it won't all get accomplished all at once.

Hang in there....

cMe said...

I'm praying for you. = ) Those are tough decisions to have to make, I hope that God will give you some direction or at least calm your nerves about it.

I didn't follow on my dream to law school. I don't have any regrets at all, but I do often wonder if I would be more fulfilled by my career if I'd followed my dream. However, I also know that the type of law I wanted to practice wouldn't allow for the lifestyle I have now of travelling, fitness, and taking care of my house and David. But I'm also not the type of person who wants to do it I'm not all that motivated to be super career girl + Martha wannabe.

Speaking from experience, it (your future lifestyle and mutual goals) is definitely something that you and PBF should just discuss and get out of the way. I think the stress of all of the not really knowing causes more stress than anything, and knowing that you have his support and his fears calmed will probably alleviate a lot of it.

Good luck!