|My daughter helping my group with community service this past weekend|
I am a single mother to two toddlers. I am not in medical school, yet, as I still have to officially finish my bachelor degree (this is my last semester) and then finish up my prerequisites to medical school. But, I notice you have so many pictures of having a night on the town or taking a trip for a conference. I do not have any free time. I realize my kids are still really young and I hope it gets better when they actually begin school.
My question is: Who do you have watch your daughter when you go out with friends or go to a conference? Do you have a nanny or is there a different option you have found to care for your daughter? I would just like to have a more balanced academic/family/social life like you seem to have, so any advice you have will be appreciated.
I love your blog! :)
This was a comment someone wrote a while ago that I thought would make for a great blog post. While I usually make it a point to write about where my daughter is when I’m doing certain things, I never realized how to new readers, or someone just scrolling through my posts, that it might look a little odd that I’m able to be involved with so many different things as a single mother. The purpose of this post will be to give a little more insight into how I am able to deal with a child, medical school, and the million other things that I have going on in my life.
The biggest benefit I have over some of my peers with children is the fact that my daughter is a lot older. She’ll be turning nine next month and is pretty independent. She’s in school at the same time I am in school, studies when I do, and if I get caught up in studying, she will either remind me that I need to cook or help her with something. When she was a toddler, I was trying to make it through my undergraduate courses, while working at least two jobs, so it felt like I had no life at all. I was also very wary about having people watch her because she wasn’t old enough to tell me if anything bad were to happen, and I really couldn’t afford babysitters to begin with, especially when I was paying expensive weekly daycare fees (after care is way cheaper!).
Nowadays, things are definitely a lot different. You know that saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, now that I am in medical school, that saying could not be even truer! My classmates and peers at my school have been a major help in allowing me to take care of business while raising a child from the very beginning of my first year. Last year, when we had mock anatomy lab exams in the evenings, one of my classmates would allow me to drop my daughter off at her place so that I could go take the exam without issues. And whenever I wanted to go out for an evening or just have some time to myself another classmate would watch my daughter. The same pretty much applies to this year, and I’m pretty sure at least half my class has either watched or interacted with my daughter at one point or another, lol. When my entire group wants to get together for a night on the town (usually to celebrate birthdays), I use care.com (such a lifesaver!). I was actually really lucky this year, because the current babysitter I use actually sent me a message with my daughter’s name (completely freaking me out), and then it turned out that my child was in the same class as her son last year, and we had already met multiple times. So now when I do need a sitter, my daughter gets the benefit of hanging out with one of her classmates :-)
So, no, I do not have a nanny, and I try to avoid paying for babysitting whenever I can, even if this means having to bring her to an event with me (if I feel it is child-appropriate). The crazy thing is that I just realized this year that a masters student I’ve been friends with on-campus has a daughter who is the same age and has the same personality as my daughter. Since we’re both single parents, we’ve been switching weekends with the kids and it’s been great! Labor Day weekend, my daughter had the chance to have her new friend stay over the entire weekend, and when I needed to go to Duke University School of Medicine for the SNMA NLI, my daughter spent that weekend over their house. It’s pretty much a win-win situation for everyone involved.
As for next year when I start rotations, I’m not sure how I am going to do things. We will be ranking our desired rotation spots sometime next month and then hopefully before Christmas, I will find out where I will be next year. Right now, I am considering an anchor location where I would be in one place for at least all of next year, as opposed to the floating “J-track” where I would pretty much be in a different place around Atlanta (up to 2 hours away) every month, but I really don’t know. Either way, I may end up requesting a cost of attendance increase so that I can get a nanny during my rotation times, but all of that is up in the air until I find out where I’ll be next year.
But to make a long post short, life as a single parent definitely gets better as your children get older. I’m sure I’ll be biting my words when my daughter hits her teenage years, but that’s when I’ll be busy with residency, and boarding schools might be an excellent option at that point. For me, it’s really important to have a balance between school, family, and a social life, or I would probably be completely miserable. I couldn’t do half of what I do if I didn’t have such wonderful peers and a daughter who really wants to see her mommy succeed. I also have an awesome family, and even though they’re 6 hours away, they don’t mind watching the little one over the summer or during some of her longer holidays. It’s a lot easier for me to be away from my child for conferences and such because I realize that everything I do will eventually make her life better one day, but I understand that other parents might not feel the same way. There are always going to be times when it gets tough, but as long as my child is happy and thriving, and I’m succeeding in my goals, then I’ll continue to balance it all and find a way to make it work.