“Oh you’ll be a great doctor’s wife” an older coworker told me the morning I returned to work after my engagement the night before. It seemed an odd way to offer congratulations.
Whatever I thought it might have meant to be a doctor’s wife, I had no idea.
I didn’t know what that meant 8 years ago and I guess I technically still don’t. I am currently a resident’s wife. Previously I had been a medical student’s wife.
My husband and I met our freshman year of college. I don’t remember exactly when I learned he wanted to become a doctor, but I’m sure it was early in our friendship. He was applying to nursing school when I was first introduced to him and medical school was always his ultimate goal. We remained very close friends all throughout college and began dating our senior year. He was always the smartest person I knew. I was attracted to his intelligence and his drive. He had a long term goal and was working towards it.
The first few years of our relationship and into our marriage, he was working full time as a nurse while also taking some upper level science classes for medical school. I remember the day he got accepted to LSU Medical School, I was working in our home office when he came in with our then almost 1 year old on his hip wearing a LSU Medicine baseball cap and said “I got in.”
Those 3 words would forever alter the course of our lives.
When my husband began medical school, we had a 1 year old. By the time he graduated, we had a 4 year old, 1 year old and I was pregnant with our third. There have been many hard times during these years, and I know they are far from over. Back in the early days of medical school, my husband would be in class all day and then he would stay in the library studying until I had put our toddler to bed and then he would come home and continue studying. Once those few years went by, he would be working long hours doing his various rotations. Once he did three months of away rotations, and I was home by myself with a 3 year old and an infant and working full time.
This time has tested me, it’s tested him, and it’s definitely tested our marriage.
I recently talked with a group of friends about this and I heard the phrase “joy in the struggle” a lot. I am not exactly sure that’s where I am. I feel so deep in the struggle that at times it’s hard to imagine that there is joy living here too. We definitely have happy and lighthearted moments but most of the energy gets spent on simply surviving.
It feels so easy to get bogged down in comparing our life to other people’s. This family has grandparents who help all the time, or this family seems to have zero money struggles, and that mom is blessed with good sleepers. But the truth is everyone has struggles and I can’t possibly know what someone else may be dealing with privately. It also doesn’t matter; this is my life and this is where I am.
Our family has to make the most of this time.
I realized that as much as the thought of fast forwarding through this period may sound appealing, it just wasn’t going to happen and I shouldn’t wish it would. There has been so much struggle; whether it be financially, or emotionally, and many times simply just logistically. I’ve struggled with resentment and he’s struggled with guilt. I complain I feel like a single parent and he worries he’s missing too much.
But these years are still important.
They need to be lived and I need to be present for them. These are the years babies were born and first steps were taken. This is the first year of big kid school and kindergarten graduation. There is no rushing ahead. Times are hard. But this is our time, and we simply have to make the most of it.