This post was inspired by one I just read from Genmedmom, on her own blog. It is called Falling off the Work/Life Balance Beam, you can read it here. I was oozing empathy, after all, she is going through this in real time, and it made me remember one of my worst moments.
When Cecelia was 5 and Jack was 3 (or thereabouts), I got a page on clinical pathology call. It wasn't a good time - I was just telling the kids we had to find a new home for our almost one year old dog Mason. Long story short he was a bullish German Shepherd that kept getting out of the gate and terrorizing the neighborhood animals. Even though we were within city limits, there was a family down the road that had a chicken pen with 6 or 7 chickens - I walked down with the children and visited them on occasion. They are a wonderful family - the wife has a healthy local business. My family had been celebrating someone's birthday the night before - extended family - and one of the kids announced "Oh look! Mason's in the back yard playing with a stuffed animal." It wasn't a stuffed animal. It was a chicken. Emphasis on WAS. That was the last straw.
After a bad first home we placed him with a medical student who was going to be alone for a year in her parent's house while they traveled abroad; she needed a good guard dog/companion. She wanted one that was house trained. It was a good fit - Mason did not need to be around small kids, being like a bull in a china shop - I was forever tightly wound if he was in the back yard when my kids were navigating the flagstone steps from the deck to the patio. He was a sweet dog, but one squirrel sighting and he shot off like a rocket with no heed to anything or one in his path.
So I was telling the kids about Mason, and they started crying, and I got paged. It wasn't just a, "Here's a critical value and I can't get in touch with the doc could you help me" from the lab page, it was a "we need an emergency plateletpheresis now, they're over a million!" page. Ugh. The kids were howling so loud I stepped out on the front porch to listen to the heme/onc tell me the patient history so I could contact the dialysis nurses with the right amounts/formula to get things going while I was getting there. I called my sis-in-law who agreed to come over and watch the kids while I went in. Then I turned to the front door to go back inside. It was locked.
My frantic kids were trying to get to me and accidentally locked the front door. My heart skipped a couple of beats until I realized I could flip the mail slot and see them, touch them, talk to them. They were sniffly but ok. I coached my daughter on how to unlock the door and when we eventually were successful I tumbled in and we all collapsed on the floor in tears. Mason. Needing Mommy. Loss. We were a big mess. Sis-in-law walked in thankfully when we were on the downswing, drying our tears, and I announced, "I think milkshakes are in order!" I pulled out the ice cream and was happy to see smiles as I was walking out the door.
I cried all the way to work that evening. I think I called a friend, hard to remember. I think I was crying more for my children's loss than my loss - I don't know it was all rolled up together, emotions indistinguishable from one another, muddied and blended. And I was crying for Mason, even though I knew he needed a better fit.
Good luck Genmedmom, it gets better when they get a little older, or at least easier. And the moments where mothering and medicine don't mix are just that. Moments. Most of it is incredibly awesome. Although us MiM's have unique challenges, I think I can speak for all of my mom friends, SAHM or mothers not in medicine, to say that all of us have these moments.