Man. I have been away from writing for waaaaay too long! Why have I been MIA for so long? What has kept me from this hobby I enjoy so much? From interacting with all of you fellow doctor’s wives? I’ll tell ya.
We all come from different backgrounds. Different childhoods and families. And we are all in different phases of this crazy medical journey. But one thing that I KNOW we all have in common is that life throws all of us curveballs. Life just has a way of uprooting us, spinning us around until we are sick and dizzy, then setting us down and expecting us to walk straight.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Everything in your life seems to be going well. You are comfortable, settled – there may be a few bumps in the road, but you have your life figured out for the most part. You are in auto-pilot and things are going smoothly. And then BAM – something hits you with a ton of bricks, just out of nowhere! And sometimes it isn’t just one thing, it’s multiple things all at once. And suddenly your peaceful way of “I-have-this-figured-out” kind of living just vanishes and your life feels kinda…well crazy.
Life did that to me about 8 months ago. Eight months ago my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our third child. We were elated! So excited! We had been trying for a baby and were so grateful that God had blessed us with another little miracle.
And then, two weeks after we found out I was pregnant, I was asked to fulfill a VERY demanding volunteer position in our church. I accepted the position (even though it meant my life would be all sorts of crazy) because I truly believed God wanted me to serve Him in this way.
And just like that, my smooth-sailing kind of life was uprooted. Morning sickness hit and the exhaustion of first trimester consumed me. I went into survival mode as I tried to take care of my two young children between bouts of nausea and during DrH’s late call shifts.
My schedule also ramped up in this volunteer position. Any free time I used to have was taken up in meetings, weekly youth nights, visiting those who are struggling, and working with other leaders in our church. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, but it was (and still is) very time consuming.
At first I was angry. I was angry with all of these changes and angry that my “normal” life had been turned upside down. I still tried to do what I had done before, but I quickly realized there was no WAY things could stay the same. I was drowning and things needed to change.
And change they did. I had to cut things out. I blogged less and less, and finally cut it out altogether. My house turned into an all-new state of disarray. My outings with friends became less frequent. I learned how to say “no” when my plate was full. I made it my motto to simplify my life.
And, gradually, I started to find and embrace my “new normal.” And even though it was COMPLETELY different than what my normal was before, that was ok. I was able to fully embrace it and accept it.
Here’s what I’ve learned this past go-around of crazy changes about finding and embracing your “new normal”:
1. Realize you have to find your “new normal” a LOT as a doctor’s wife
If you are married to a medical student or a doctor, you are no stranger to change. You are constantly trying to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing schedules of your husband. Any sense of “routine” or “reliability” goes out the door with all of the tests he has to study for, the rotations that change monthly (or even weekly), and their crazy work schedule.
I personally feel like my life as a doctor’s wife feels “stable” for maybe 3 weeks at a time before I have to figure it out all over again. Is he going to be eating dinner with us most of this month or not? Are we going to have to majorly give him his space when he’s home so he can study for that board exam?
And remember all of the relocating?! There is moving for medical school, away rotations, residency, and different jobs. We all know that with moving there is a LOT of change and finding your “new normal” there becomes particularly hard.
Just start to accept that if you are married to a medical student or a doctor, you are going to have to be flexible. Change will be frequent and you will need to find your new normal often.
2. Be Patient
It is super frustrating to go from having it “all figured out” to feeling like your life is spinning out of control. When you are in chaos, surviving from day to day mode, you may be just itching to put your life back together. To feel like you have it figured out again.
Newflash – it takes time to find your new normal. It takes time to adjust and get in your groove again. Maybe you just started a new job. Maybe you had to say goodbye to old friends and are struggling with making new ones. Maybe you just had a baby and are dealing with all of the change that comes with that. Maybe you just moved so your spouse can start medical school, residency, or their first job after training. Or maybe your DrH’s work schedule changed AGAIN and you have to figure out how to successfully live and survive during this new rotation.
No matter what is turning your life upside down, just know that it will take time to find your “new normal.” So be patient with yourself. Give yourself a flipping break. Don’t be in such a rush to have everything figured out!! You will get there.
3. Don’t Compare
Ooo I feel so strongly about this one! Don’t compare YOUR normal with someone else’s “normal.” DON’T COMPARE. Knock it off.
Everyone has such different circumstances in life. And everyone has different personalities, different talents, and different gifts! So of COURSE, one person’s “normal” life is going to look completely different from another’s.
For example, my life right now with 3 kids under the age of 5 looks VERY different from a married woman with no children. And it looks very different from a woman who is married to someone that works an 8-5 job, Monday-Friday. It also looks different from fellow doctor’s wives! When I compare my “normal” life to others, it does nothing for me but cause resentment, disappointment, and a whole lot of heartache.
Also, don’t compare your normal NOW to what your normal was before.
I’m in the newborn stage right now, so my “normal” involves waking up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to feed my baby, a DAILY nap, an insanely messy house, going days without a shower, newborn snuggles and keeping my two boys out of mischief. My life is night and day different than it was a month ago.
Sometimes I find myself comparing my life now even to how it was before. I’ll be like, “Oh man, I used to be able to keep my house semi-clean. What is wrong with me?” And then I remember that I just had a baby and that this is my “new normal” now. It is vastly different than it used to be, but that is ok!! I catch myself in these comparison moments and I remind myself to stop comparing. There can be no comparison… life is different. It’s different yet beautiful at the same time.
So don’t compare your medical school life, residency life, or physician-working life to any stage you were in before. It won’t do you any good. Just accept where you are now and what you are capable of now.
4. Be Flexible – Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations
Embracing your “new normal” also means you need to let go of unrealistic expectations. Is your DrH working 24 hour call every other day? Then your expectation of cooking a 5-star meal every night and having a spotless house while keeping your 2 kiddos happy is probably unrealistic.
Are you yourself working a full-time job and then are also responsible to take care of all of the little things behind the scenes? (Because we all know your DrH doesn’t have the time). Then don’t expect yourself to be able to stay on top of everything in your life! Give yourself a little slack. Let go of those unrealistic expectations as your work on finding and embracing your new normal.
5. JUST EMBRACE IT!
Ultimately you have to embrace where you are right now. Embrace what your “new normal” looks like, even if it seems to be anything BUT normal. Even if it isn’t what you pictured or what you want right now.
Since giving birth to my third child I’ve been working hard on finding and embracing my new normal. I’ve been trying to improve in different areas of my life – trying to get back into a good workout routine, trying to keep the house semi-clean, and trying to spend time with my older two kids so they don’t think I’ve forgotten about them. And trying to improve in all of these areas has been really hard and honestly, sometimes I don’t see much progress!
I have finally reached a point where I’ve realized that my new normal right now is just chaos. That my normal right now is basically a crazy life. I mean, for the love, I have three kids 5 years old and under, a husband who works 80+ hours a week, I don’t live by any family, and I m currently filling a very time-demanding volunteer position in my church. My life has no other choice but to BE crazy!!
And that’s ok.
So here’s what I say about embracing your new normal: change what you can and leave the rest. Sometimes all you can do is just say, “You know what? This is my life right now. This is my new normal.” And just leave it at that.
At least until more change comes your way.
** Image from Stocksnap.io