Some days I feel like my life is like a highway rabbit riveted to the road about to be run over by two colliding eighteen-wheeler trucks in the middle of a Nevada night. I'm simply paralyzed by circumstances beyond my control, caught in the headlights of life. It's been getting worse lately as my wife and I try to balance the demands of our work against the realities of raising two young girls, their immediate needs, and after school activities. I can almost hear the whoosh of the pneumonic truck brakes now.
"What do you mean you can't drive them to my parents. You know I'm on call and I can't either." As a second year surgery resident my wife works a lot, seemingly always at the times when I have to be at meetings or am preparing for them.
"You're kidding right? How can I drive them over two hours away when I have to meet the ENTIRE CORPORATE EXECUTIVES of the Italian company?" I can hear the locking of the trucks brakes in the distance and the bouncing of the rubber tires against the road as the rabbit freezes.
"You can't expect me to do it?" My wife seems surprised I would even ask.
"And you think my job or effort is any less important?"
"At least you can take the time off I can't." She folds her arms across her body an outward expression of her inner defiance. In my mind I picture from the side of the darkened road myself screaming, "run rabbit run!" But like the bunny I'm paralyzed. Who should compromise, my wife or me? If she does, she calls in sick (the unthinkable), if I do I make the same call with the same excuse.
"Well I guess it will be again. I'll take the kids but I'm getting tired of being the one to always compromise, always the one to give in." She looks at me with huge hurt doe like eyes.
"That's not true. I still cook dinners, wash clothes and do the kids homework with them." I can feel my blood begin to percolate as now I envision my wife as the tiny bunny about to be mangled by the two colliding trucks.
"Listen I know it's tough but so is being married to a surgical resident. Your profession is impacting the family, it's affecting us." I lower my voice caught off guard at the expression of my hidden feelings. I can see her expression change; soften then chiseling with lockjaw.
"And yours isn't affecting us and the family either?"
I discount her comment like one does a silly question from a child but then suddenly realize that she's right as well. It's not just her it's me, it's us. Our professional lives have collided and contributed to the chaos of our children's lives. It's my flying out on business trips and her working long hours. It's being accessible 24/7 with cell phones, pagers, and portable emails that make spending quality time with our children distant, some week's nearly non-existent despite our desirers and efforts. Our lives, both being professionals, is vastly more complicated than either of our parents. Our schedule juggling is something that they will never comprehend. So with a sigh I close the gap between us pulling her into me, pressing our two bodies together in a soft embrace, avoiding the inevitable collision of our careers and the head on trucks as they and we kiss. I sigh again for in the back of my mind I see the rabbit hoping away, unscathed for the moment. That is until he has to cross the road again.
Brandon Knight is married to an MD/PHD/MPH PGY2 for the past 11 years and has two daughters. He is also an Investment Banker for the past 25 years.