Sometimes I suffer from extreme mother guilt and I rack my brain with ways that I could be a better mother. I am also aware that I may not be the best sister or daughter either but I’m going to be honest with you… when it comes to being a wife – call me crazy – but I think I’m pretty awesome at it.
I feel like I have given away a lot about me from my blogs, that the people following me would really have a good idea what I’m about by now. And I’m reminded about this when people that are strangers to me know who I am and will talk to me about my kids and which ballet class I’m taking Mikah to and ask how Rafaella’s reflux is. I have never seen them before and know absolutely nothing about them, but they know me. It’s a really strange feeling and whilst I am not comparing myself at all to a celebrity at all, I do wonder if this is how they would feel from time to time. And whilst I find it uncomfortable, I try to not blush and feel awkward when asking the stranger their name because this is what I signed up to when I started blogging… to being a semi-open book.
But there is a part that I don’t talk about that much. I mention it from time to time but haven’t really gone into detail about it because I don’t want people thinking that I’m complaining nor to feel sorry for me. Those that know me, know that I am basically a single mother, that my (amazing) husband is a surgical registrar, has been living away for months and doesn’t see us as often as we’d like (or he’d like!). But before I go on I will just quickly deal with some of the misconceptions that are out there about being a doctor’s wife…
Myth 1: It is exactly how it is on TV:
This is most definitely no episode of greys anatomy – They do not all live together in a gorgeous house, they do not all run around the hospital waiting to see the cool case that has just come in, they don’t all bump into each other every time they go into the lift and they certainly are not sleeping with their bosses (well they better not be!)
Myth 2: We are rich:
We are not rolling around in all our extra cash. So far from it. This one makes me laugh actually. As a registrar, my husband is still working and studying towards being a fully-trained consultant (15 years after finishing school!), and until then he is still essentially a glorified government worker in a government hospital on a public officer salary. A lot of his pay also goes back into his insane training costs.
Myth 3: It must be amazing to have a DR in the family for when you are sick.
If I don’t need to be urgently sliced and diced then in his head, I am not as sick as all his patients that he is surrounded by all day. When I was 6 months pregnant with my second baby, I got really bad gastro and had to go to hospital. We woke up my then 16 month old in the middle of the night and we went to the emergency at Earl’s hospital. They looked after me really well especially knowing that Earl was watching over me and I suppose that is a slight perk of being a drs wife but come 6am hubby had to go and do his rounds and see all his patients. I was hooked up on a drip, had spent the whole night vomiting my insides out, was 6 months pregnant but still had to look after my 1 year old while he looked after his ‘real’ patients.
So now those misconceptions have been cleared, let me further explain our situation. Earl has a series of exams this year that he has been studying for (for what seems like forever)… once he is through it and we are on the other side I feel like it will have been the best thing that ever happened to us as a family. I have heard some people talk about cancer like this and I always thought that was the weirdest thing to say. But what I do understand is that you see strength that you didn’t even know was possible. You start appreciating the little things and you look forward to things that other people would totally take for granted. Earl has to rely on me to solely bring up our children and out of the whole situation this is probably the hardest pill to swallow (pun intended!).
So why do I think I’m an awesome wife? Because there is a lot of time that I put my husband first. Yes even before my kids. I know I’m being a little controversial when I say that but my girls will grow knowing how much their parents love each other. They are going to know that I fell in love with their father and that that passion never extinguished. I made sure never to make my husband feel neglected or brushed aside when I had the babies which is quite a common with new mums. I also always made time for date nights no matter how tired I was. There is always going to be a reason not to go (tired, kids sick, busy day, tantruming kids etc.) but I really try to push it all aside and really focus and check in with him.
I truly believe that I haven’t let the world of medicine get in the way of our relationship and at the same time I also have made sure to not get caught up in the crazy tornado of reflux, breastfeeding, nappies and cooking healthy dinners. I made sure to sing to my daughter’s, read them stories, see to their every need but come 7pm it was lights off time and if Earl had time for me – I would make sure I had time for him. Even though our bedtimes were hours apart (mine would be pretty close to the girls bedtime and he would be up studying late) we always tried to compromise a night here or there.
Now I don’t want to fool you, I am no wonder woman and I definitely let things slide. Like the time I promised I would cook dinner and ended up serving my man with a rockmelon and a side of oven chips. We absolutely had our fair share of takeaways, I have been known to call in an extra cleaner every now and again and I have learnt that a Laundromat really isn’t that expensive (and I would do anything to have a break from folding the never ending supply of clothes!).
And whilst I don’t judge co-sleepers, my children have never spent the night in my bed because I don’t want anything physically blocking my husband and I – even if it is one of our children!
I also received quite a few eyebrow raises when I went on a holiday with Earl and didn’t bring the kids with us. (You can read all about it here /no-words.
It was a week of checking in with each other, of looking at each other while we talked, it was time to sit at a restaurant and hold hands across the table because our hands weren’t needed for feeding kids or drawing on serviettes. It was some peace…sitting with each other in silence is wonderful. Yes he studied and yes I FaceTimed the girls twice a day – we didn’t walk away from everything completely but our head space was ours to own which was quite liberating actually.
I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone, it is a complete luxury for us.. We couldn’t really afford it but felt like it was the most important thing we could do for ourselves. We couldn’t afford not to. And I also am completely aware that not all people can go to another country and leave their kids with babysitters. We are ridiculously blessed and have parents that were happy to do it for us. But maybe start with Valentines Day this year. I am no real believer in cupid or any of that stuff but I do believe in a great excuse to make some special effort for each other.
You have a couple weeks to think of something, anything. It doesn’t have to be out there or expensive – just something to say to your partner that you still think of them and underneath the vomit stains, chipped nails and unwashed hair there is the person that he fell in love with. Put him first for one night and if nothing else, it might give you the encouragement you needed to shave your armpits, put on some fresh clothes that you wouldn’t normally. If nothing else, it will get you out of cooking dinner for a night!