Our Generation:The great juggling act

January 1, 2005

As I write this, I'm having a typical weekend. My husband is with our 10-year-old son at a soccer tournament 4 hours away in another state and I'm at home with our 7-year-old, 3-year-old, and 10-month-old. I was awakened at 5:45 AM by my energetic 3-year-old, who was ready to play pitch and catch. Our game was cut short because we, too, have a busy day ahead: My 7-year-old has three soccer games and my toddler has a birthday party. Of course, I am not on call and won't be doing much else because by8 PM, I will not be able to hold my head up. A 14-hour day at work is less exhausting.

As I write this, I'm having a typical weekend. My husband is with our 10-year-old son at a soccer tournament 4 hours away in another state and I'm at home with our 7-year-old, 3-year-old, and 10-month-old. I was awakened at 5:45 AM by my energetic 3-year-old, who was ready to play pitch and catch. Our game was cut short because we, too, have a busy day ahead: My 7-year-old has three soccer games and my toddler has a birthday party. Of course, I am not on call and won't be doing much else because by8 PM, I will not be able to hold my head up. A 14-hour day at work is less exhausting.

But I love weekends like this. In fact, I am very happy with my chaotic existence. I missed way too much of this in my residency. How my husband, who is an oil and gas attorney with a very busy practice, managed the children by himself while I was a resident (before the 80-hour work week) is amazing to me. Now that I'm finished with residency, things are somewhat easier, but two children involved in activities, a toddler, and a baby have been added to the mix. Balancing work and family is a constant work in progress.

My husband and I learned early how important it is to recognize and appreciate what your spouse does. You must acknowledge his/her "job," whether it's maintaining the home, raising the children, practicing law, teaching, going to school, driving a truck, coaching, or practicing medicine. It's counterproductive to dispute whose job is more demanding or more stressful.

Time together as a couple also is important. I thought that after I finished residency, my husband and I would have an abundance of time together, but that was not the case. We recently attended an ACOG function in Washington, D.C., and realized that we had not been out to dinner since May (the beginning of Little League baseball season). So, we decided to have a "date night" twice a month with just the two of us or with friends. A planned "date night" may not seem very spontaneous, but I've accepted that spontaneity is something I will acquire again later in life. For now, scheduling is vital to my existence.

Balancing work and family life also means setting your priorities. Sometimes you have to be willing to let some things go. Even though I have a housekeeper twice a week, my house is by no means immaculate. My yard will never win an award and I likely will never be asked to host a charity event at my house. I have made the choice to be with my children at their activities, have dinner with my husband, or go for a 4-mile jog instead of cleaning. My husband and I call it "damage control." You do what you can.