The down-side of having children during residency is that they are frequently disappointed. Today's example: camping.
Our church is going camping this weekend. I am 36 weeks pregnant, I am not camping. The plan was that our 6 year old son and his doctor father would go camping together and the girls and I would meet them at the campsite for dinner and breakfast, but would be sleeping at home in our beds. Luckily the campsite is close, only a 10 minute drive.
This morning my son didn't even want to go to school because he is "going camping". He is so excited! What we discovered at 10:00 this morning is that my husbands case didn't show up on time and therefore the entire day has been pushed back two hours, and that's just the start time. I was warned last night that the case would be a long one, and that it might mean he would be late. Now he will not only be late, he will be absent. So I have the next 5 hours to come up with a way to explain to a little boy who wanted nothing more than to camp with his dad, that his dad will not be there and camping will have to wait for another day. Sadly, that day rarely comes.
This is the part of parenting that is hard. This isn't the first time the kids (or I) have looked forward to something only to have it cancelled at the last minute because the doctor cannot make it. I don't even recall the number of events we have had to miss, or the number of invitations we have had to turn down because of this job. Nor do I want to think about the number of times we have just gone on without him, like he wasn't even part of the family. After a while showing up alone with your kids gets old. I gets old looking at other complete families having a good time while I'm just trying to keep it together. It gets old being alone, just me and the kids all the time. It gets old feeling like I am the only one doing this.
I'm not in a particularly good mood today. Probably because I'm getting ready to have our 4th child and thinking to myself "what have I done"? I'm left holding the bag once again with children who are too young to understand that their dad really wants to be here, but can't. Too young to know that mom is hanging by a thread. I often wonder what our relationships will look like in a few years. Will the kids stop asking when dad will be home? Will they stop being excited when he does come home? When he is home will we even notice?
I know I said in a previous post to just go for it, have children, what are you waiting for? I do mean it. Children have been a wonderful blessing. But regardless of having them during medical school, residency, fellowship, or as a practicing physician this is life for us. We didn't pick a specialty with a short residency, we picked one of the longest. We didn't pick a specialty known for it's predictable schedule and lifestyle, we picked one of the worst. We didn't choose to stop with a residency, we've added a fellowship. Waiting I don't think would make a difference. I do hold out some hope that when he has established a practice, in a few years, he will have more control over his schedule. A girl has to hope for something!
In the meantime, we try to go on as best as we can. I think tonight will be a McDonald's and ice cream night, again.