Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Living into our values

Hi everyone. I'm Peaches, which is a play off a goofy nickname my father made for me as a kid, and completely ridiculous (which is more or less how I am). I'm a rising 4th year med-peds resident, mother of a 10 month old, and wife of a teacher - I'm also a poet, distance runner, and currently baking a rhubarb cake while the remnants of tonight's dinner are crunching under my feet (thanks, Z). And I'm posting this after coming off of night float; some un-edited reflections on where we are now (and hope for some advice from fellow comrades, waving in the distance).

Sometimes I think I do my best reflecting on my life while on the middle of night float, at 2am, sitting at a workstation computer and overlooking the rooftop garden where the cancer patients spend their days, walking the 30 yard loop and enjoying a small taste of sunshine.

I’m always so cranky on night float. It might be one of the worst parts of residency – not even the forgiving 28 hour calls, where I come home and nap in the blissful quiet while Z is at daycare and my husband is at work – but the rhythmically monotonous night float: come home at 9am, putter around cleaning and then fall asleep, sleep until 3, wake up and go for a run, go get Z from daycare, spend 2 hours with him, put him to sleep, spend an hour with my husband slash frantically shower, pack lunch, try not to argue about the mounting mess in the kitchen or the unfolded laundry – and go off to do it all over again. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of sleep, or the frenetic-ness of never being home for more than two hours, but I worry that my family doesn’t get my best self. It’s not until midnight or 2am that I feel fully awake and functioning clearly.

Hence, the 2am reflecting.

We’re looking for a new daycare, which I never realized would be as stressful as it is. We have one that we like, and has done a wonderful job with Z, and most of all, had a place for him the second we called. Z is our foster son, who was placed with us at 4 days old, and has been with us ever since. And since 6 weeks and 1 day old, he’s been at this daycare ever since as well (my two week maternity leave can be a post for another time…) As we’re in the process of adopting him, we’re also getting more skeptical of the completely chaotic 2+ year old classrooms, and looking at other daycares nearby.

But it’s so stressful, trying to figure out how to live into these values we’ve talked about for years, which are sometimes incongruous – wanting a place that is diverse, with kids who look like our biracial son, with teachers who he can see as role models; a place that is close, because we love having only 1 car and I bike commute and want to be able to pick him up; a place that is invested in his emotional development and has a small teacher:student ratio, because he has a lot of barriers he’s already had to overcome (and will still have to overcome) related to his early-life experiences; a place that teaches kindness and reading and self-control (which are pretty much the only goals of daycare, I think). And what if all of these aren’t together? What if the diverse, close-by place also means my husband has to come to work an hour later everyday (not a possibility) or the emotional-IQ, small teacher:student ratio means I can’t bike to pick him up early? Or the 3rd option, the really nice supervisor and lovely outdoor space – they want him to only spend 9 hours maximum, and will fine us (and judge us) if he’s there longer (side note: have they ever met a resident before?)?

How do you figure out what things to prioritize the most?

It’s easy to espouse values as a young adult. It’s harder to practically live into them, to put your money where your mouth is, to live in the city instead of move to the suburbs, to send your kids to public school when the private school has a lot cooler opportunities – these are things I felt so clearly confident in, when the choice was theoretical. I understand the shades of gray involved in all of these things, now, more than I did before. I’m not sure what’s right for us now, always.

Sitting out in this garden, now, I can look out at the city below me – it’s dark, with the lights of the highway blinking in the distance. On my left, the tower of the cancer center rises, and the stairwell is encased in all glass and lit such that it glows, and I remember nights spent sitting on the landing between the 14th and 15th floors, eating a granola bar and staring out to where the sea meets the shore. We are all connected here, I know, and it’s odd how the sense of panic I felt sitting on this bench as an intern has morphed into different types of questions. The hypotensive patient or the guy whose sats keep dipping into the 70s feel like the easy ones.


  1. Welcome Peaches! I don’t know the perfect answer to your question about how to figure out your value priorities. I think you have to let them sit with you and keep evaluating, as it sounds like you do. Some people go through life with blinders on and don’t think about these things, so kudos for being self-aware!
    I will offer a practical tip: I also have a daycare situation with a 10 hr max, and being in anesthesiology it is sometimes a bit stressful since I can be kept late at work. You can hire a babysitter who will either come in the AM and take your kid to daycare at a later hour (offsetting that 9 hour cushion a bit), or who would be on-call to pick him up if neither of you can! I have used Sitter City for this. Take a look at my most recent post just last week where I discuss my experience. Good luck!

  2. No one is as certain about parenting as people who don't yet have kids. I was never going to let *my* child have Velcro sneakers (don't ask me why I felt so strongly about that) and I certainly wasn't going to dress a daughter in pink. Turns out my kid loved pink. Oh, well.

    We do the best we can for our kids with the options we have available. It's been helpful for me to remind myself that very few of these decisions are etched in stone - most things can be changed if they don't work.

    Glad to have you!

    1. Thanks, Jay! That's been one of the most reassurring things someone said to me recently - that we aren't committed forever to the choices we make in parenting, and that things can work for a season. I so appreciate the advice, and the reminder that the things that seem like a big deal beforehand basically never matter (I say as my husband rolls his eyes at the plastic farm singing "good night little cow" for the 1000th time...).


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