I am in my third year of medicine residency. My daughter was born July 1 of my intern year. I took three months leave and then started internship. My husband was a resident also and finished this year. I say all of this to say that I have a 2 yr old who is happy, well adjusted and one of the brightest children in her preschool class. so don't worry, it will all be fine.
Well, I am neither a resident or a med school student. Just barely made my decision to go to school. But...there's a couple things I would like to share more from a lifes experience. First off, to hear the ups and downs, struggles and victory of others and their situations brings comfort to me b/c I know that the same issues are in my future. I appreciate you all that take the time to share them.
My daughter is 5. I went to paramedic school when she was 3-it's no med school or exhausting residency, but between that and working full time, I was gone a good 5-6 days/wk. I worked as an EMT anywhere from 60-84 hrs/wk. Plus I had an 1hr commute to school and a 2hr commute to work. I will agree with WendyWhy about the "quality of time spent" vs. the quantity. I think we all would like to spend more time with our children, but that's not realistic. So when I was home, I would set time aside that I spent with her, one on one, doing something very special and fun. Even if I could only dedicate 30 minutes one day, or 2 hours the other, I made it a part of my schedule. Not that children are just something you half to do, but it works!! You also gain a lot of satisfaction from it. I tried just giving her a little here, a little there throughout the week, studying while giving her a bath, etc.. and she just wanted me more. Once I dedicated time with her that was uninterrupted, she seemed more at ease. Now that she is older, and we've (my husband and I) made the choice for me to go to med school, we included her in the decision (since she is old enough to uderstand). So we get excited and say "won't it be neat to have a mommy that's a doctor too?" and she gets happy and tells her friends...lol Basically, maybe if they are old enough to understand to have them be a part of what you do. That way, they don't feel like you are so disassociated with the family/house and that you don't have some secret second life. She will be in jr. high when I go through the hardest times, so hopefully it won't be too difficult.. Just wanted to offer an opinion based on my small bits of experience...
"When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme!"
Wow- there's a lot of wisdom in these posts!
Wife, to quote my Mom (a kindergarten master teacher with an MA in child development)
"Relax. Little kids don't spend time comparing their mommies to June Cleaver, because your home and family is the only reality they know. Just plan time with your kids each evening, and take comfort in the fact that they'd STILL be complaining about not having your attention 24/7 if you were a full time mom and took five minutes away from them to answer the phone (or go to the potty!)!" (Mom's pretty smart!)
I struggle with the idea of medical school (I'm getting my MPH now) and the impact it would have on our future kids, but then I start running a reality check:
Will I be working if I don't get into med school?
Does that mean our kids will be in daycare ANYWAY?
Did I grow up with lots of friends from immigrant families where the parents worked a lot (and didn't my schoolmates turn out okay)?
I have friends in unhappy marriages with tonnes of money who are staying in un-respectful, un-loving marriages because they dread the idea of "Not being home for the kids" and I can tell you that those kids are turning out to be hateful unhappy little pieces of work.
Basically, not to sound cynical, but to be a mother in the US is to be in the ultimate no-win situation:
Work? You feel guilty for not being home.
Don't work? You feel guilty for "wasting" your degree and for not feeling hysterical with delight for every moment of childrearing.
You're right to spend time thinking about this- but please just realize that to be a loving mom is to always agonize about the choice you make- no matter if you choose "A" or "B".
As long as you make sure your child has a loving caregiver and you make time to build a good relationship with her, you'll both be okay.