I've noticed that one common theme on this blog: Guilt.
As working mothers, we often feel guilty. We feel guilty for not spending enough time with our kids, and at the same time, we feel guilty for not working hard enough at our jobs. After I was recently saying how I felt bad that my husband had a longer commute to work than I did, a male attending said to me, "You are always feeling guilty. I never feel that way. Ever."
I recently read a post on The Differential, a medical student blog, where a 4th year med student writes about her children being angry that she's moving them halfway across the country for her radiology residency. She feels guilty for uprooting her family and wonders if she should have picked a less competitive specialty that was more geographically flexible. For the most part, the comments to her post were supportive, but of course, there were a few people who called her "selfish" and said that she is not putting her children's needs first.
I knew a few people in my class who uprooted their families to train in competitive specialties. They were all men. (Although to be fair, 90% of the parents in the class were men.) If a man had made a post like that, would people have called him selfish? I don't think so. If only because a man never would have made a post like that. If the father's career calls for a cross-country move, that's just The Way It Is.
Men don't write blog posts about how they feel bad they missed putting their baby to sleep two nights last week, they don't obsess over the fact that their infant got one bottle of formula instead of breast milk (ever notice that there aren't any male "boob nazis"?), and they don't attend lectures about how to achieve a work-family balance. There isn't going to be a blog called Fathers in Medicine any time soon where men talk about the challenges of balancing fatherhood and a career as a physician. Not to say male physicians don't love their kids, because I know they do. But they don't have the kind of guilt that we do.
Actually, I'm a little jealous. Maybe we should all try to be more like men and not feel so damn guilty all the time.