Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How to Survive as a Working Mom

I have begun several posts recently detailing fun things we've been up to, like my first Mother's Day, Scarlett's dedication, Luke's birthday, and a recent day trip to visit with my sister.  But life has been crazy, and I haven't had time to complete any of them.  I hope to soon, because these are special memories I don't want to forget!  But tonight something completely different is on my mind.

I recently started my medical externship.  It is my final externship before I graduate in August.  I've been placed in a facility that's part rehab center and part skilled nursing facility.  I know I want to work in the schools, so spending my summer in what is basically a nursing home felt a little like a waste of time at first, to be honest.  Not only that, but since I went and had a baby in the middle of grad school and became an "off-sequence" student, I have to complete my medical externship in 8 weeks instead of 15.  This means that I am at my extern site 5 days and somewhere between 40 and 50 hours a week.  Factor in 2 classes I'm taking during said externship, and a 40 minute drive one way, and that leaves very little time for my family.  On week nights I have between 2-4 hours with Scarlett.

To say I've been depressed would be an understatement.  I hold on to Scarlett every morning and just bawl before I have to leave.  I hate it more than I can tell you, and for the last 2 weeks I've been wondering why God is making me go through this because I don't feel like I can handle it.  I waited so long to become a mom, and I didn't think I'd have to basically let someone else raise my child once I finally had one.  Luke tells me that's melodramatic, but it's how I feel.

Today I was at my externship site and needed to return something to a patient's room.  I walked in and the patient was just moaning and visibly upset.  I reached out to her and she grabbed me and pulled me close.  She was holding my hand and pulling me to her as if she were clinging to me for life.  I just sat there and hugged her for a good long while, and then I rubbed her shoulders for a moment, and pulled her blankets up tightly around her so she'd be warm and comfortable.  I told her that my supervisor and I would check on her throughout the day and make sure she was okay.  After all of that, she visibly calmed down and stopped panicking.  She had just needed someone to hug her and comfort her.  And in that moment, my attitude changed.  I believe God was telling me that he has placed me at this site for a purpose.

Scarlett is so lucky to have many relatives who can watch her each day.  Honestly, leaving her each morning is a billion times harder on me than it is her.  She probably doesn't even notice I'm gone during the day.  Unlike Scarlett, those patients don't always have someone to love on them and advocate for them 100% of the time.  So if I can't be with Scarlett all the time this summer, I'm going to put all of my energy into loving and helping those patients.  I am so lucky to have a supervisor who does just that every single day, and she's been a great example for me. 

I was watching "The Little Couple" the other day.  (I love that show...I think Bill and Jen are such a wonderful couple!)  If you don't watch the show, Jen is a neonatologist who works in a NICU at one of the largest children's hospitals in the country.  Obviously she has a very wonderful, rewarding job, but she has to work crazy hours sometimes.  She and her husband have adopted two children in the past couple of years, and I imagine it is very hard for her to be away from them.  But she said something in a recent episode that hit home for me: it's not about quantity of time; it's about quality of time.  This is such a true statement, and my mom even alluded to this when I was confiding in her the other day and telling her how hard of a time I'm having.  She talked about how I'd probably take my time with Scarlett for granted if I were a stay-at-home mom and got to be with her 24/7.  But since I'm only able to see her for a few hours a day (for this short period of 8 weeks, anyway)  every minute is probably filled with quality time.  I think this is totally true, because during my few hours with her, you better believe my total attention is on her.  I don't do homework, dishes, cleaning, laundry, etc until she's tucked into bed at night.  those few hours in the evening are our special time together.  I like to think that I spend the same amount of quality time with her as I would if I were a stay-at-home mom, even though the quantity of time is much lower.

So in a nutshell, if you are going through the same type of situation as me, I have two words of advice: 1. If you can't pour all your love into your child each day since you are not physically with them, pour all your love into those you were sent to serve or work with at your job each day.  God placed you where you are for a reason.  And 2. Don't dwell on the quantity of time you are missing out on.  Think instead about all the quality time you have together. 

I know these next 6.5 weeks are going to be hard.  But with this attitude, I can cope a little better, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot more along the way, too.  I fully intend to seek a job as a school speech therapist, where I will have holidays, nights, and summers off to spend with my family.  Once my kids are school-aged, it will be the absolute perfect set up.  But until that time, I might as well make the most of the situation I'm in instead of dwelling in depression like I have been.

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