It's my anniversary today, and at 11:00 pm I haven't seen my wife, a PGY2 all day. This of course is not unusual for a residency couple, although I find it hard to tolerate anymore. This constant absence effects one like a foggy, drizzly day eventually does. I accept it for her career but I began to wonder how it affected my ten-year-old daughter, although I thought I knew the answer as we discuss the topic of her absence frequently. I asked her to come up with any ten questions for me regarding her mom and the residency program she is in and I would do the same for her. In truth it was difficult not to ask negative questions because we as a family only see her once a week sometimes less than that. That schedule puts downward pressure on our family but I try to balance it out by balancing the benefits of her career path for the kids, although sometimes I really have to stretch a point. Below here are my questions to my daughter and hers to me. I hope that you read them well as they probably reflect many such situations.
Dads Questions To His Daughter
1. What's the best part about having a mom who's an orthopedic resident?
I can learn about bones and other medical stuff and if I ever get hurt or sick she knows what to do. Some times I get to go to work with her and help her look at X-Rays, which is always very fun to do.
2. What's the worst part about having a mom who is an orthopedic resident?
My mom usually misses all my special evenets that I work realy hard on preparing by myself or with my grade and class. We also hardly get to see her only on the weekends. She is also on the phone or in The OR so we cant reach her.
3. What's the coolest moment that you can remember with mom?
When we went jet skiing together in Flordia for two whole hours. She drove really fast and let me sit up front while she was driving. We saw beautiful flying fish that glided along side of us and we saw a lot of the coast of Flordia.
4. What's it really, truthfully like seeing mom once a week?
It is upsetting not being able to see my mom. She can't give me tips on school or homework. And we never have dinner or family time with her or see her. I miss planting gardens or playing games in the back yard too.
5. What do you do to compensate for moms absence?
6. When mom is around what do you wish for the most?
That she would go play with us instead she takes 30min showers and then takes another hour to get ready to go somewhere. Then she makes us change a lot and redo our hair. We never get to actually be with her. It would be nice if she would play with us.
7. If you could change any one thing about our life with mom what would it be?
That she would be readly quicker and not care a bout her appearance as much as she does. That way we would have more time to spend with her as a family.
8. Compared to other moms in your class what's the best/worst thing about a mom in residency?
Best: That she can do really cooll presentations with me. Two years in a row now we have demonstrated how to put on a cast on me and then we put a splint on some of my classmates.
Worst: She never is there for mosst of my events and I see all of my friends moms and dads their. It makes me feel sad but I know she had tried to make it which makes me feel better.
9. What would you change about moms and dads relationship if anything?
That they woudn't fight as much. They usually argue about money our grades events and other not really important stuff that they argue about.
10. What would you say to other kids your age who have a mother in residency?
Truthfully I wouldn't know what to say other than to talk about it and how it feels to have a mom in a residency.
Below are my daughter's questions to me. It's interesting to read her viewpoint.
1. Do you miss seeing your wife every night?
Yes, although not as much as I used to. It's a psychological defense I think. There are times when it's painful though.
2. What is it like to never be able to reach your wife who you love so much?
It's more than just frustrating. It drives a deep wedge between the two of you when you can't chat about simple things like report cards, funny thing happened to me on the way type of stories or you can't believe what my business partner did. Not having that type of conversation distances each other.
3. Have you ever missed one of her events while she was a resident?
Never, not one event or special day. That's also true for ever other event during her medical school, like match day or celebrating after the Boards. I understand the type of pressure she's under and know how important it is for her to have someone always there.
4. Do you ever wish she was home a lot more often for your special events and dinners?
Sure do. Although mine may not be as climatic it hurts when she's never around to celebrate or if I cook a special dinner for her only to have her come home hours late or not at all. Bonding with someone means sharing the mundane as much as what is special.
5. Have you ever tried wondering what it would be like to be in your wife's shoes?
All the time and I try to more than support her career path. I send flowers every week to her apartment to brighten her day. I am always available for her phone call even at odd hours to listen to her complaints or issues. I hired a nanny and maids, paid for her apartment, insurance, accountant, and every small supportive item in order to relieve her of the daily stress other people have. It also helps to own 5 hospitals so I live with doctor issues daily.
6. If you could change only one thing about your relationship what would it be?
I would try to make her understand that she is not doing this by herself that it is and has been a family effort with tremendous sacrifice by us. That residency is about postponement but that doesn't mean that we have to put our lives on hold for her. But it's very hard for a resident to see beyond themselves as they struggle to survive.
7. If you could change three things?
1. Change her view of life to understand that she is not nor medicine is the center of the universe.
2. That she has to learn to leave medicine at the hospital and not bring it home or treat us as issues that can be compartmentalized and dealt with in a similar manner as her patients.
3. That she is missing the best part of my kids life and her husbands years.
Well that's the two of us that bared our soles but I would wager that most others feel the same as we do.