I come from the generation of women who were raised from a very young age to believe that they can be and do it all. College, career, friends, marriage, kids, and a perfect family life, unhindered by a stellar career, and of course, a kicking body. As most of us in medicine, I have a strong tendency toward demanding perfection, of myself, of my relationships, and especially of my work. Anything worth doing was worth doing perfectly, down to the last detail, or I just wouldn't do it. Ha. Ha. Ha. And then I got smacked, hard, with reality. As others have so astutely stated, the enemy of good is perfect. Many of my posts on MIM have been pertinent to work/life balance, or, more specifically, lack thereof.
At first, I did a really good job balancing self care, school, and friendships. In med school I made a concentrated effort to work out several times a week, studied most of the rest of my time, and while my older friendships got put more or less on hold, I had good friends in medical school with whom to blow off steam after examinations. Then came love, followed shortly by marriage, best decision I have ever made unto this day, and I don't regret it a bit, but the gym was the first to be phased out in favor of nurturing the relationship. And, to quote the Barenaked Ladies "When we are happy we both get fat and still, it's never enough..."
In residency, he was working, and I was working, and we cherished the time we had together. We hired a cleaning lady who also did laundry, and were able to spend most of our free time together nurturing our relationship and our relationship with our family and friends. Life became infinitely more complicated with one child, and we were nearly pushed to our breaking point when, in the throes of an incredibly demanding work schedule, we had our second child. We lived 14 hours away from much of our friends and family. Mr. Whoo was working 10 hour days, I was working 12 hour days (if I was lucky), and our children were in day care 10 hours a day, despite having a twice a month cleaning lady, any spare time was spent digging out from underneath mountains of laundry, and our life together was coming apart at the seams.
There was no more robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we finally had to make some very difficult decisions. The first of which was Mr. Whoo quitting his job to hold down the home front (i.e. find it under Mount Laundry and the River of Dust) and be available for our children and family. The second of which was my decision to break my contract (which cost us a bit financially) and find a more reasonable call schedule in a location closer to our family and friends. In addition to seeing more friends in person, facebook helped so much in sharing my life with my family and far away friends. I'll be the first to admit, my life is far from perfect, but compared to a year and a half ago, my life is a spa vacation. My children are still fairly young at 3 and 6, and they still have very few extra curricular activities. I know more juggling will be in order once they start, but so far we've handled Daisy Scouts and dance class fairly well. The last thing I have yet to get totally back on track is taking care of my own health. I've lost almost 30 pounds since moving here, and plan to find a way to continue to get back into good health. My *final* frontier, but a kicking body? Likely not.
So, in short, we *can* have it all, with a little help from our husbands, family, friends, and by standing up for ourselves and finding a position that allows us to fulfill our calling as a physician and still tuck the kids into bed most nights of the week. Every woman on this board has achieved so much, each of us in our own way. We've done it all, and so can you.