Confession time. Despite a paucity of evidence, I once lured my unsuspecting husband and daughter into the bathroom and told them to strip. I handed my husband a tube of 5% permethrin cream and proceeded to apply the same cream to our daughter and myself. My husband, well-acquainted with my neurotic behavior, laughed, shook his head in mild disbelief, then willingly obliged. “Jeez”, he muttered under his breath “I give you a car, and you give me scabies” (a reference to our recently purchased vehicle). My decision to call in three scripts for permethrin was based on two intensely pruritic hands and one overactive imagination. My lips were also swollen, but despite repeating over and over in my head, “You have an allergy, not scabies”, the heebie jeebies were welling into a tornado of anxiety that was wrecking havoc on my paralyzed little brain.
My husband puts up with a lot of crap being married to a doctor. And although I would like to think of my neurosis as merely an occupational hazard, I suspect it was likely a preexisting condition, exacerbated by the daily exposure to other people’s illnesses. I am forced to recognize that this career, and the ways in which it has dictated my behavior, can be a hardship on my non-physician husband.
In addition to not having me committed over the permethrin incident, in this first year of my fellowship my husband has shouldered a disproportionate amount of child-related care and chores. When I left for work last Saturday morning, my daughter was naked in the bathtub, in the throes of a wicked GI virus. My husband was at her side, cleaning and comforting her. I wasn’t worried that she critically ill as she had just been eating and running around earlier in the morning, but I still felt horribly guilty for leaving my family at this moment.
And while I am almost certain my husband didn’t mind, much less resented, my departure, I do wonder if he fully appreciated the extent of his parental participation when he married a female physician. Did he know that he would be in charge of daily school lunches, drop-offs, and pick-ups? That he would know the pediatrician better than his physician-wife? I can’t imagine that he did as I didn’t predict (nor wanted) it myself.
Although I recognized how very fortunate I am in my marriage, I sincerely hope that amongst this group of mommy-MDs, I am not unique in the depth of support my husband provides me in my career and our child in my all-too-frequent absence.
So ladies, in celebration of the men whose lives might have been a whole lot simpler had they just married someone, uh, less interesting.... I’d like to say: thank you.
Happy Father’s Day
s is a hematology/oncology fellow in California. She lives with her husband and 2 year old daughter. She blogs at www.theredhumor.com