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.