Sunday, October 12, 2014

Learning to NOT count expectations.

My husband works hard. He travels a fair amount. And his hours -- especially when the trio were little -- are fairly horrible. As I look back at emails to my sweet dear friend regarding some of those hard hard years of med school and residency, I am amazed that I didn't whine more. But rest assured, I did whine:

April 23, 1999 -- "Well, I'm beat. Wade has been doing  a neurology rotation this week (and next) and I'm having a hard time remembering how to do everything for my trio alone....good practice for July 1, I'm afraid! But let me say it is tough! I really try not to whine because I feel so amazingly blessed to be the mother to Benjamin, Mason and Claire -- but it is a ton of work and as much as I love it my bedtime seems to come earlier and earlier these days!"

January 9, 2000 -- "Wade is working, working, working but will have a week off the end of this month....I'm counting the days! I miss him terribly and need to just have my family together for some quality time."

The triplets were born at the end of Wade's second year of medical school. When I was put in the hospital on complete bed rest at 20 weeks, we discussed his taking a year off to be with me, and to help me when the triplets were born. I felt very strongly that we had to persevere through school to get done. We had two years of tough schedules as he finished medical school. But that beautiful dean of the University of Chicago Medical School saluted our little family at graduation. And those amazing classmates, they gave us all a standing ovation when we came into the auditorium for the residency Match Day Ceremony (where you find out where you will spend the next few years of training). I love those friends for the way they rallied around us through those years.

Young Mama Me was trying hard not to whine -- even then counting my blessings rather than my woes -- but I have to tell you that there were hard days. Ironically, I found coping as a "single-mom" much much easier when Wade was on a rotation that I KNEW meant long hours. There was something, something about thinking he might possibly maybe come home early to help me with our trio that would send me into a tailspin if it didn't happen.

Young Daddy: "I am doing research today. I should be home around 2."

Young Mama: "Great!"

And then I started imagining how much easier the late afternoon hours would be with two sets of arms, legs and brains. Imaginings that would take a dark dark turn when 2:30 would come with no Daddy. By the time he walked in at 5, I was going absolutely crazy with an overwhelming number of diapers, bottles, babies.....

After this happened two or three times I realized something very important -- nine days out of ten, I handled all the diapers, bottles and babies just fine by myself. Why then did that one day out of ten when I expected Young Daddy to be there to help did I fall apart?

Blasted expectations. My expectations for an easier evening, an easier feeding, an easier diaper change event would cause me to completely forget I was absolutely capable of handling things just fine. And with all our nerves in tact.

So we came up with a plan for survival from Young Mama to Young Daddy: NEVER ever never say "I might be home early." Just never ever never say those words. IF you have a day where you might be home early that would be awesome -- surprise us! What a beautiful sight you will be!! But don't try to pre-tell us. OH just don't. Because a patient somewhere will undoubtedly need you and young mama (and frankly the current not-so-young-mama) can not handle the disappointment.

We still use this today. Somehow, counting the hours until my guy gets home has never been a good coping skill for me. I do much better just handling life and rejoicing when he walks in the door. We count our blessings that his schedule is much improved over residency, and count the blessing of amazing quality time together of utmost importance.

And the bottom line -- thank goodness Young Mama learned the importance of counting her own abilities rather than counting on things beyond her control. Young Daddy was amazing -- and not-so-young-daddy is as well. But our family has a unique calling -- God called us to be a medical family. God called us to support a Dad as he helps other families like our's (with kids with Cerebral Palsy) and because of that it is very important to count our own abilities while giving thanks for Dad's abilities...and to count hours together in a special way.

Carol - The Blessings Counter