Friday, April 17, 2009

The Look Before the Leap

A few nights ago, Josh and I watched an episode of Nova entitled, "Doctor's Diaries". It was the second half of a two part series that follows 7 doctors from their start in medical school 21 years ago, to their current day lives. By the end of the show, every married doctor, with the exception of one (the woman), were divorced. With that, I think the intensity of a commitment like this finally hit Josh. He is and always has been supportive of my desire to pursue a medical career (he knew I was going to go for it before I did), but I think watching that show made him realize that the difficulty of such a path won't only be felt by me, but also by our family as a whole.

We recently had a discussion about boundaries, about how we can make this work without it killing anyone emotionally or physically. It is going to be a tenuous balance, especially for the next year, largely because we will be shift parenting during the week. It was a good chat, a reminder to keep an eye on each other's emotional states as we plunge into all of this, to be willing to work extra hard when needed and compromise when necessary. I've been in school 4 nights a week before (though, I wasn't also volunteering at the time) and it was definitely manageable, but this time there is a larger push to do exceedingly well...from here on out, I'm building an application for medical school. Everything counts. Good enough isn't quite good enough. The work I put into school will have to increase. As I invest more time and effort into my coursework, I'm going to have to work even harder to utilize family time in a way that invests an equal amount of worth in our family life. Everything is about to change and maintaining an equilibrium will now have to be a conscious effort.

We've instituted something called "Special Sunday", every Sunday alternately belongs to one of the children, and we go out and do an activity as a family of BubTar or KayTar's choosing. So far, the activities have been (KayTar) IHOP, Denny's, Target to spend a gift card, and (BubTar) LEGO store, bookstore, and rollerskating. Up next is dinner at WaffleHouse, continuing KayTar's Tour of Bacon 2009. I think this little tradition will be an asset as we attempt to wade through these new waters. We're also planning to attend church again, for the first time in years. I think it is a wise investment of our family time, a good time to slow down and focus on something outside ourselves. Next year I also plan to volunteer in the kid's schools, I think investing some time and being present in their school lives is really important. I'd have done this sooner, but with KayTar's seemingly endless parade of illnesses, I just wouldn't have been able to do it consistently. We're finally getting to a place where she isn't perpetually sick, and it is a real treat. As far as Josh and I, we're both adults capable at expressing our needs and concerns which makes striking a balance much easier. I think it will be important to have weekly or bi-weekly lunch dates, so we can be in the same place at the same time and have the opportunity to exchange notes on the kids and just be together without the rush of home life.

Life is going to change and we're all anticipating it, trying to prepare somehow. The truth is, we really won't know what to expect or how to handle it until we're in the throes of it. The best we can do is be aware of the change we are about to step into and be mindful of each other as we move forward into this next stage of our lives.

29 comments:

Mad said...

Forewarned is forearmed. It sounds as if you are both going into it with maturity and level-headedness. That's a great start.

Kyla, I'm sorry I haven't been by. Spring and spring cleaning (both bloggy and otherwise) have been keeping me from my reader.

kickypants said...

Seems like you have a good plan, so I think that's as prepared as you can be for the unknown. I love 'Special Sundays' I think it's something we will start doing once O gets old enough to know what's going on. I also love hear about the 'Tour of Bacon 09' Keep us posted ;)

AJsMom said...

I think the most important item on your list is going back to church. You'll find that getting that priority right will make the rest of the balancing act easier...

Becca said...

I agree with what others have said... you are going in with your eyes open and it is so important. You will do great at this challenge just like you have at all the other ones you have faced thus far.

tierd said...

I admire you so much - you are thinking of things and handling things in a way that most people definitely do not.

Your plan sounds to me like it will the stage for success - for your marriage, for your family, for your career. I still wish I had 1/10 of your energy and tenacity.

John said...

Nice Job ! Hey, doesn't This looks like an awesome place to begin your academic program! The True Blue Campus at St. Georges University.

Mimi said...

Hi John! St. George's University? The crisis of the Grenada invasion! Thanks for the spam!

(Sorry Kyla, had to take that on ... dude seems to be trolling for 'med school' posts)

You guys are handling this so well, and you know, it sounds a lot like what Pynchon and I are always trying to manage with my Big Career and his Steady Job and our family and and and. Yeah, it's *hard*. But it can be done.

tutugirl1345 said...

Sounds like you have a great battle plan. I'm nervous facing my boyfriend going into residency and being busy all the time. Your commitment to your family and your work is inspiring.

Allison said...

I'm wondering if there's another side to this. There's no doubt that medical school and residency is tough on family life, though lots of people do seem to make it work. But there was a little spate of articles in the Canadian press recently about women who've chosen to go into medicine partly because they see it as family-friendly.

There are apparently so many women going to medical school and then opening cooperative GP practices where several of them can work part-time while their kids are young that it's contributed to our overall shortage of GPs. So of course everyone's got their panties in a knot - how dare these women take their government-subsidized education and waste it on children! But it doesn't sound like a bad life to me. Flexible hours, etc.

I'm really suspicious of the predominant narrative about women working, that idea that kids feel neglected. My mom took something like six weeks off total to have me. She's a prof, so she had flexible hours, but still, I spent a lot of time in daycare, stayed at school until 6 most days. I was an only child, and my parents made a big point of buying me toys that I could play with independently. I never felt neglected for a second. Of course, that's partly because my mother didn't work as much on evenings and weekends as some of her colleagues, and her career suffered for awhile, but still. She made it work.

The one thing she always felt guilty about was not volunteering at my school. When she had sabbaticals (every 5 years? 7? I forget) she would get more involved, but to be honest, I never cared. When she was at my school, she had to be this other person, paying attention to the other kids.
I would rather have had my friends to myself at school, and my mom to myself at home. That doesn't mean your kids feel the same way, though.

Sorry for rambling on for so long!

Junie's Blog said...

I totally admire how introspective you and Josh are. I think the very fact you had that conversation will serve you well in the future. You are both so in tune with your family needs and the needs of your significant other. It's so amazing! I wish you all nothing but the best. seems like you are really ready and prepared for what lies ahead of you.

Jaden Paige said...

I wish you all the best of luck in handling what's coming your way... but I also do it with the thought that you will get through this period and be okay... Because just look at what you've already done.

You've built a beautiful, happy family and managed to do it amongst a ton of obstacles that have been thrown at you unexpectedly... You are a whirlwind, woman, and you can totally take this on. :)

katy said...

No doubt this will be tough, but I'm impressed by your determination to make a dream come true. Very inspiring!

Kristin said...

Eeek! Such an adventure this will all be. You and Josh are already beating all the odds by getting married so young and still doing just fine, thank you. I know you guys will be okay. I admire all your plans for keeping the family intact, though. You guys rock. Josh rocks.

Hey, when it is time for medical school are you obviously hoping for a school near you? Or might you guys be moving then? That thought just occured to me.

sheree said...

Kyla- I just know this is going to work out for you and your family. Yes, it will be a tough road and a road full of compromise but you will get to where you need to be and you'll get there with dignity and grace.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

You are so level headed! I love your ideas for family time and for staying connected. It will work. I am bummed, though, that you can't fit in BlogHer!

Lisa b said...

I think, and I hope, that the older generation of doctor/teachers/professionals/ didn't spend as much time thinking about their work life balance. I think your lunch date plan sounds great.

This reminded me that the older NICU nurses used to point out, when one of the docs would say something idiotic about babies, that they had never been home when their own children were babies.

Amy Y said...

I think you guys are going to be fine. Better than fine. You're talking, planning, communicating... doing everything right. You'll be successful ~ I'm sure of it.

Cold Spaghetti said...

Hang in there. Doing any kind of professional school is tough as a parent... and maybe especially as a woman. People are very judgmental, which is annoying, but also can look past you for opportunities because they assume you can't or won't want to hack it. It is not a very family friendly environment. You all have been through so much already, this is just one more thing that you can conquer. I'm thrilled for you and to have someone else showing it's possible to do this sort of thing AND be a great parent.

~aj~ said...

Wow, I know it all seems a bit overwhelming (at least it does to me...you actually seem very calm about the whole thing!), but I am certain you guys will be fine. Because when it's all said and done, you and Josh are madly in love and are amazing parents. You'll do whatever it takes to keep your family unit strong and no doubt succeed in all your other endeavors as well.

I truly believe if anyone can do this, it is YOU, babe!

painted maypole said...

i love a girl with a plan

you have such a good head on your shoulders... both smarts and common sense. you can make it work, i truly believe that you can. because you've already overcome some pretty hefty obstacles. med school? meh. bring it on!

flutter said...

you know? I am constantly floored with how mature, how sensitive and loving you both are.

You impress me.

InTheFastLane said...

It will be a challenge. but, if you keep thinking and keep caring, you WILL make it.

runafteryou said...

Neglecting appropriate words of wisdom, I'll add, I'm so proud of the two of you. Can't wait to see how YOUR 'journey' unfolds!

Amelia said...

I think going into it with your eyes wide open will help immensely. I LOVE how the picture and post go together. And "tour of Bacon 2009" BWAHAHAHA! Funny stuff.

Woman in a Window said...

Holy heck, you've got your head screwed on right. Now...blogging...where are you going to squeeze bloggging in?

jo(e) said...

I like your approach! It sounds like you are doing all the right stuff to make this work.

Gwen said...

Love the aptness of that photo. Sounds like you're in a good starting place, which ought to make the inevitable curve balls easier to manage.

Janet said...

You are wise beyond your years, Kyla.

No Mother Earth said...

You have a very mature outlook. That, in itself, will take you very far.