Whenever people learn that I’m not only a resident, but I am a mother as well, they inevitably reply, “Ohmygosh! How do you do it all!?” In fact someone just this past week referred to me as “superwoman.” And although I enjoy the compliments, I have to admit that I am far from superwoman. And I undoubtedly do not “do it all.”
For as long as I can remember, I had big plans for my life. I had always heard that you “can’t have it all,” but I always felt that applied to other people and not to myself. And in my own mind, I really was going to be superwoman. I worked hard in college, got into medical school, and here I am now, an actual doctor. And to top it all off I’m married, and I have a beautiful daughter. To any outsider it might actually look like I have it all.
But I can tell you from the inside that it’s not that simple. The reality is that every moment of every day I feel overwhelmed. I have a running list of tasks in my head that need to be done and the list is never ending. If I’m at work, I’m constantly checking things off my list, running from patient room to patient room, attempting to finish notes and put in orders, all while watching the clock, trying to get my work done so I can leave in a decent time so that I can get home and steal a few precious moments with my daughter before she goes to bed. And even when I get home, I often only get to snuggle next to her as I feverishly try to finish writing discharge summaries, all while fighting off her tiny fingers from pushing the buttons on my keyboard. Then, far before I’m ready to say goodnight, I have to give her a bath and wrestle her into her PJs and read a dozen books before bedtime because my daughter’s new favorite phrase is “one more.” I tuck her into bed and we say bedtime prayers and just as the door closes to her room I hear the unmistakable sounds of “Mama! coming from her crib. I sigh and head back in for another ten minutes of rocking in the rocking chair, secretly cherishing every second as this is the only quiet time in my day. And deep down feeling guilty that my tiny baby gets such little time to spend with me. Then, of course, I tackle a sink full of dishes and realize I have yet to eat dinner. Luckily there are leftovers in the fridge. Maybe my husband and I will get to watch an episode of one of favorite TV shows together while we eat. And by then it’s time for bed, as we both will have to get up by 5am the next day and do it all over again.
My house is never clean enough. I struggle to find time to cook meals. I am constantly worrying about my patients and it often keeps me up at night. I’m always exhausted and fantasizing about the next time I can get some sleep. My husband and I haven’t been on a real date in months. And my daughter gets to see me for maybe and hour every day. This is not what I would call “having it all.”
My life is anything but simple. It’s anything but glamorous. And even if I actually had it all, I don’t have any time to really enjoy it. I’m not saying I’m unhappy, and I’m not saying I don’t love my life. But there are moments here and there where I look at my husband and say, “Do you ever wish we had a normal life? And we each had normal 9-5 jobs? And weekends off?” To which he always replies, “Yes.” And we both sigh and think of how different our lives would be.
The best way I can describe my life is, “I’m surviving.” I’m not thriving. I’m not going to be winning any awards for being awesome anytime soon. I’m just trying to make it through each day. And even if it looks like I’ve got my life together and like I’ve got it made, I have a long way to go before I really do.
Hang in there Emily! Love you and wishing the best for you and your family! My dad always said it gets easier after the first few years.
Such a candid post. I wish more “superwomen” were honest about it like this. Maybe then we wouldn’t hate ourselves so much for just surviving. Hang in there, babe.