Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ship 'em off!

When I made a post last week about fellowship, I was surprised by one commenter who suggested the idea of living apart for a year while I did a fellowship. Either my daughter could come out with me and I could manage as a single parent (eep!) or she could stay with my husband and I could just visit on odd holidays.

Now I've lived apart from my husband for periods of time and it was not fun, but it was doable. But living apart from my child is a totally different ballgame.

I know the commenter meant no offense in this statement, and the truth is, women do this. I know of a few female residents who have sent their babies to live in their home country with the grandparents while they furthered their careers. I don't judge these women but it's not something I would ever remotely consider.

In my daughter's entire life, I have only been away from her for one single night. (Not easy to manage as a resident!) My husband has only been away from her for a handful of nights. For either of us, it is painful to even contemplate a year spent apart. I can do a fellowship in ten years from now if I want, but AGE TWO is only going to happen once. I'd never forgive myself if I missed out on it.... or if I put my husband in a position where he was forced to either give up his job or miss out on it.

For me, feminism does not necessarily equate with always getting my way in terms of career.


  1. Fizzy girl, I LOVE you! You're exactly right. And there are thousands of moms across the country who would give you a standing ovation for sharing this sentiment. We all feel the same way.

  2. yay yay yay, i love your idea of feminism!!!

  3. Well said.

    When I graduated law school, I was offered a job in DC with a great salary. I turned it down since my husband matched in Philly. My career counselor kept telling me I should take the job and live apart because "I'd never see my husband anyway."

    I declined the job and I've found a lesser paying, less ideal job in Philly. Sure, I think about that other job a lot, but I'm with my husband and we've created our home here. And I cannot imagine being apart from my husband when my daughter is born (due in June!) So good for you. I know being a resident is MUCH more demanding, but at some level I do get where you're coming from.

    Feminism doesn't equate with getting my way in terms of career. I want a happy life outside my career too.

  4. I can't believe how often this is suggested to women. When I was applying to medical school, and my husband was still working on his degree, this was suggested to me by my advisor. When my friend was applying for residency, and her husband was still working on his PhD, this was suggested to her. Are we really seen as so career-oriented that we would give up our families?

  5. Fizzy, I absolutely agree with your attitude: it's not about getting everything I want in terms of a career, but doing what is best for me and those I love.

    I'm far from having to make a decision between family and career (no husband, no kids, just many years of school ahead of me), but I've hinted a few times that if I got married and had a child, I would consider stopping/interrupting my education and/or career and I was almost speared to death by my fellow female future-scientists.

  6. I'm glad you ladies seem to agree with my sentiment. I was a little nervous about making this post, but it gets me so agitated when people suggest that I abandon my family for my career.

  7. I agree w/ you too Fizzy. Feminism is about being able to make the choice of what you want to do, not having it made for you.

  8. Don't do it. You can always do career stuff later, but she'll only be little once. She will be your daughter when the career is a memory. I think women should do what they think is the best thing for their family, and everybody else should mind their own business.

  9. I completely agree with you. I am an Indian and many of my doctor friends do send the kids to India. While I dont agree, I dont comment as well.

    Very beautifully written

  10. I don't think that "abandon" is quite the word I'd use, and I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to live apart from your family for some time for the sake of your career.

    That being said, you have to do what's best for you. Not all people have the same priorities. I have no idea what my decision would be if I were in your position. I think you are doing the best you can with what you have, which is as much as anyone can hope to do.

    To me, feminism is about choice, but also it is about not being an ass to those who choose differently. (I'm not saying you're doing the ass part BTW in case that's not clear.)

  11. I like your spunk--I think you're wise to choose family over your career. I find that the older I get, the more I value time with the people I love over anything else. I think you're right about possibly doing a fellowship down the road if you want to do so. I am a doc and mother of 2 young children. I like my job but sometimes feel like I may have chosen medicine for the wrong reasons--ie. to prove to myself and others I could do it, to make my parents happy, etc. I often find myself thinking about a 2nd career, a chosen career down the road when my kids are older. Not saying you're going to leave medicine--just that we'll all likely have other career options down the road if we choose but our kids are only young once.

    My husband and I were eating with our daughter, now 2, before our son was born. We were having one of those chaotic meals-out-with-a-toddler, when an elderly man sitting next to us said, "It may not feel like it now, but these are some of the best years of your life." I am home on maternity leave with my 2nd--totally exhausted--but think of those words often.


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