In honor of Memorial Day one of the "real" doctors had the residents over to his home for an afternoon BBQ. This particular doctor had previously been a resident in this same program and has been an attending for the last 3 years. We haven't had many occasions to to together with the residents, their wives (or significant others), and their families partly because we are all so busy. But even when the opportunity arises it becomes very clear that we don't fit the mold.
1.) We have children. Not just children, but in 4 weeks we will have 4. The next closet resident has 2 and they are done. Others have one, and most have none, or are not married. Our entire residency has been one endless round of pregnancy and child-rearing. When we moved here I was pregnant. Of the 11 total residents our family has 45% of the children. We stick out.
2.) We don't drive nice cars. As we left the house I made the comment that leaving there I felt a little like we lived on the wrong side of the tracks compared to the other residents. Our older mini-van sandwiched between a new Mercedes-GL, Dodge Viper, Tahoe, and other late model cars. I suppose if we didn't have kids we could afford nice cars. As it stands we drive cars that are 10 and 8 years old. We pray every day that they keep running because we can't afford for anything to go wrong.
3.) We don't have luxurious things (sunglasses, shoes, handbags, clothing). Let me rephrase, our things are nice and well kept, but it is obvious they are not in the same field. We don't shop at the same places.
4.) We don't know the best places to eat, vacation, or the latest movies playing. We haven't been out to dinner in over 2 months, haven't had a vacation in 2 years, and I think the last movie we saw in the theatre was over a year ago.
I always come away from these outings feeling like I am doing something wrong. In reality, we aren't doing anything wrong. This is what our lifestyle is, and it's just different. Our life revolves around our children and our family. Our spare time, money, and energy go there first. I would love to have a newer car maybe even two, but what we have suits our needs. We live within our means, don't use credit, and live what I would consider to be a frugal life. I don't work and with four kids it would be a near impossibility to pay for child care. It certainly isn't glamorous or always fun, but that's the way it is. The way it has to be for now, I don't see any other way around it.
So what do I take away from this experience? One day we will own a new car that we pick out to our specifications. One day we will own a home that reflects our style and values. One day our income will exceed our expenses with room to spare and our needs and wants will be met. In the meantime, we'll continue doing the best we can with what we have and try not to think too much about what we are lacking. But I still rack my brain trying to figure out how they do it!