Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guest post: Can't I just relax?

I am a 30 year old mother of 3 children ages 13, 10 and 8 in addition to being a wife and a second year OB/GYN resident.

It’s the weekend and I’m off, which is a miracle in and of itself.  However, what should be time to relax is never exactly that.  Sometimes because of children’s sports activities, or my husband’s work obligations or maybe because we have scheduled time to go “out” with our friends.  Yet more often than not, despite the extended period of time off , I am incapable of relaxing.  My in-laws jokingly ask my husband on a regular basis what is on my agenda for my time off.  My husband literally can not comprehend why I can’t just sit.  

Here’s the thing from my perspective:

I had my first child at 17, married at 18 and had my second and third children at 20 and 21 respectively.  Throughout all of this I took off only 1 semester of school.  I went straight through college and into med school and now OB residency.  Through all of this I have learned to manage time, multitask and be efficient.  Time is of the essence!  For the past 13 years I have had an agenda.  Clean the house, do laundry, academic reading, pay bills, etc.  So, when given a moment that is not already scheduled for me, I feel the irresistible urge to use that time to it’s fullest potential. I have made it a point recently to get a massage once a month.  However, I will admit that it takes me a full 30 minutes for my mind to clear of the tasks that need done.  But hey, that’s a full 30 minutes that I really am relaxed!  Now, as my children and I are getting older, and I am getting further into my career I can’t help but wonder how to break the cycle in my head and to really enjoy my time off.

5 comments:

  1. Well, I only have one child, but I can still totally relate to this. I'm graduating med school this spring, and we have a series of required classes that we have to take before graduation. One of our faculty preceptors made the following comment: "I mean come on, who really has an agenda for the weekend."

    I thought he was seriously asking so I raised my hand, and so did the other two mom-students in the class. It turns out he thought having an "agenda" for the weekend was a ridiculous idea. Note: He also has three kids and his wife is also a doctor.... somehow I suspect that his wife has *quite* a different perspective on the matter than he does.

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  2. I see this as something that happens to a lot of academics in their 30s, whether they have kids or not. Suddenly it just doesn't make sense to be busy every minute of the day anymore.

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  3. Maybe it just happen to everyone in their 30s. :-)

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  4. I am so scared because I am only pre-med at 23 I still have about a year left (switched my major twice) and the nearest med school is over an hour away. How did you make it through med school? Did you work? I am nervous as a single mom if it is possible. Everytime I hear these stories it inspires me but I financially support my only child and if I have to commute to Med school (if I even get it) I have no idea when I would be able to work to pay all the bills. :(

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  5. I actually had anxiety around my days off when I finished residency because I was so unaccustomed to free time. Slowing down actually takes practice! Luckily as the anhedonia fades post-residency (I think there is a lot of subclinical depression in residency; I at least noticed things got a lot brighter afterward!) it's just more pleasant to engage in the world. Mindfulness meditation also really helped me. There is a good guided meditation (for new moms, but fairly generalizable) at mindfulmotherhood.org.

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