For my entire married life I feel like I've been living in a fish bowl. Everyone knows what my husband is doing (oh, ah...), and they continue to congratulate me as if I somehow strategically caught the biggest fish in the sea. It is really annoying. I like to remind anyone who will listen that I liked him before I knew what he was going to do with the rest of his (our) life. And for that matter it wouldn't have mattered, I loved him.
The fish bowl feeling has continued everywhere we have lived. People are amazed. They look at us differently. I must be one lucky girl! What is it exactly that makes me so lucky?
Am I lucky because we left friends and family to move to another part of the country we had never seen?
Am I lucky because we have spent every holiday, birthday, special occasion without family and often without friends?
Am I lucky because we celebrate holidays when we can, never according to the calendar?
Am I lucky because we haven't had a family vacation that wasn't visiting family ever?
Am I lucky because we have missed social gatherings and opportunities to be with friends because the hospital doesn't stop at 5:00.
Am I lucky because my kids ask where daddy is when they have a concert at school and I have to tell them that he can't make it, again.
Am I lucky because my husband works the equivalent of two full time jobs, but only gets paid for one?
Am I lucky because I usually eat dinner alone, or have Mac N' Cheese with the kids?
Am I lucky because date nights happen maybe once every few months?
Am I lucky because my friends don't understand what irritates them about their husbands working late occasionally is my everyday, every week, every month?
Am I lucky because I get to stay at home with my kids all day, every day, with no breaks?
Am I lucky because the student loan payments we will get to make will be more than the average mortgage payment?
Am I lucky because one day this will all be worth it, and somehow that makes everything trivial?
What exactly is it that makes me lucky? Oh, you mean the money! Luck has nothing to do with it. There was plenty of hard work, shared sacrifice, austerity measures, doing without, going without, being without. There were plenty of tears and a whole lot of sweat. Moments of self-doubt, depression, anxiety. Days when I thought this is it! I can't live like this another minute.
How can you put a price on that? Where is the break even point where your sacrifices no longer matter because the payout is $$$? For years friends and family have discounted our struggles (emotional and financially) based on the opinion that one day this will all be worth it. After a while, you can't even vent to the people you love because they can't see past the $$ signs that are years away. Every situation is framed in that respect.
I remember a conversation I had with a family member while in the middle of residency about being worn out and that I could really use a babysitter for a few hours every week but couldn't afford one. The response that one day you can afford a babysitter did little to console me. By the time I can afford a babysitter there will be no baby to sit.
Whatever our future holds it will because we fought long and hard for it, it didn't happen over night. It didn't fall into our laps.
I am thankful my husband loves what he does. He doesn't complain about work - thank heavens!
I am thankful for the hard and ugly things I have learned about myself that I never would have discovered.
I am thankful that even without all the vacations, holidays, gifts, and dates I know that I am loved.
I am thankful that residency was hard, long, full of struggles and heartache - I hope it makes me a more compassionate and patient person.
I am thankful that the life we have made goes beyond medicine. It may take up all of our resources, but it doesn't define who we are, what our family is, or what we can do.
Maybe that does make me lucky. But how can it be luck when I know how much it took to achieve?
I am afraid the fish bowl isn't going away any time soon. I already feel the peering eyes, and taps on the glass. Let's watch and see - what will they do next?