Ever since resigning from my career as a physician to stay at home with my son (read about my decision here), life has been worlds different; and just about every day, I find myself reflecting on those differences. Maybe it’s because, at times, I miss medicine. Or maybe it’s because I’ve found so much fulfillment in my new job, I couldn’t imagine what things would be like otherwise. Either way, I think those differences are worth exploring.
When I was working, each day began at 5:00 AM, so I could leave the house at 5:30 AM in order to get to work for 7 AM (Chicagoland traffic is horrendous!). Of course, at this time, my husband was still asleep, and after our son was born, he would be asleep at this time as well. Once at work, my day started with pre-rounding on my patients (checking in on them, examining them, etc.), followed by rounds with the attending physician on our service. The rest of the work day was filled with calling consults, placing orders, responding to pages, putting out fires, writing notes, and attending conferences. At the end of each day, I was mentally exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to watch an hour or so of something mindless, decompress, maybe do some reading on a case or a patient, and crash in bed by 10 or 11 PM. It didn’t take long before I began eagerly looking forward to the one day I had off each week, where I could crash some more or catch up on everything I let fall by the wayside during the week like housework, paying bills, and calling family members. The nice thing was however, knowing that, in fact, there would be a day off.
Alternatively, now that I’m a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), I’ve learned that “days off” are a thing of the past. Each day begins at 7 AM and ends at 1 AM, and is filled with everything from feeding and changing, to teaching and reading, cooking and cleaning (that includes the house and Micah), and a never-ending list of “to-dos.”
Of course, like any job, each has its positives and its challenges. For example, as a physician, I valued the time I was able to spend with my patients, learning from them and educating them.
I found enjoyment in being intellectually challenged as I worked through a new disease process, and most importantly, found joy in seeing patients at follow-up appointments looking much improved from the last time I saw them.
Of course, full-time “mommying” has its joys as well.
Some of the things I cherish most are watching Micah grow and seeing his personality develop, enjoying tons of hugs and kisses, and above all else, knowing that I am truly impacting his life, not just daily, but moment by moment.
Additionally, I’ve had the added benefit of being able to spend more time with my husband and grow more in love with him each day.
As for the challenges, well…remember that part about me taking some time to relax when I got home from work? That doesn’t happen very often now. For the most part, the moments when I can take a break are few and far between. Days are long, and I’ve never in my life spent so much time on my feet. This is coming from someone who has endured four-hour rounds and spent 8 hours in the OR at a time. Speaking of which, as a doctor, one of the biggest difficulties I, and many others faced, was the increasingly overwhelming weight of administrative limitations on patient care, including endless documenting and paperwork. Needless to say, this not only compromises patient care, but leads to physician burnout. I was constantly battling to find work-life balance, but the more I fought, the more elusive this enigmatic concept became.
Nevertheless, despite it’s difficulties, as a physician, I lived each day for the joy in healing, I found reward in the happiness of my patients, and cherished the feeling of knowing that somehow, someway by helping each patient, I was making an impact in society. But now, as a full-time mom, I live for the joy of each moment, I find reward in the happiness of each smile and giggle shared, and I cherish the thought of knowing that I’m making an impact in this child’s life, and through the man he’ll grow up to be, society at large.
Any other moms out there that have spent time doing both–working and staying at home? What are some of your thoughts on either?