I don’t know about you guys, but when Daddy comes home it is probably the best time of the day. When my two boys hear the front door open, they come running from their Legos or their cars with exclamations of “It’s DAD! DAD’S HOME!”
And my husband walks in the door with his blue scrubs, pager on his hip and his work bag slung over his shoulder. He will smile whenever he comes home, hug his kids, and give them the attention they want so badly from their dad.
But when he comes to hug me I notice the exhaustion in his smile. His tired eyes.
This doctor life is a hard one and asks a lot of my DrH. But he does it, day in and day out. He goes to the hospital and spends all day in the operating room with patient lives in his hands, who are dependent on his choices and judgment. He makes life and death decisions and is asked to learn in residency at an insanely steep learning curve. But he does it. And he loves it.
And yet he is still able to walk in the door after a 12, 18, or 24 hour shift and put his family at the center of his world. He instantly switches from doctor to husband and father. He will ooo and awe over my son’s latest Lego engineering achievement. He will get down on his hands and knees and “wrestle” with our toddler (which means lying down on the ground and letting him climb all over you).
He will ask me about my day and listen as I vent to him about toddler tantrums, teething kids and laundry that never ends. And he listens to me and makes me feel like it is important and that it matters to him. And of course, it does.
But it amazes me, that he can go from doctor mode to family mode. That he can go from situations that can be life-altering and potentially life-shattering to our home life that doesn’t carry with it the possibility of such immediate, dire consequences.
Sometimes this doctor’s wife life makes me frustrated, angry, and just plain exhausted. But other times I am in awe and so proud that I get to be married to someone that can go between both worlds and who loves what he does.
He can one minute be intubating a patient and handling a very stressful surgical case, and then 4 hours later be at home changing a diaper. He answers pages and does the dishes. He preps for his cases the next day and then reads books for bedtime. He works, studies, attends conferences and still tries to make time to take me out on a date.
So, my fellow doctor wives, why I am I telling you all of this? Because I hope you remember a few things, especially when things get hard:
1. Remember How Amazing Your DrH Really Is
Try to keep that in mind, next time you are angry or frustrated with this doctor wife life. Your DrH is a doctor but is also a husband and a father. He tries to fulfill and be all of those roles in one person. Man that must be hard! But he does it and that is so impressive.
2. Remember He Isn’t Perfect, But He Is Trying
Of course, your DrH isn’t perfect at it. Neither is mine. Sometimes the doctor life tries to take over his life and he needs to recenter his focus and remember that he is, first and foremost, a husband and a father. Or sometimes when he gets home he needs to go to his room and have some downtime from a particularly hard day before he is ready to join the family again. I try to give him his space and understand that it can’t be easy to switch from doctor life to home life.
But he does it and I love him for it. I appreciate it so much that, while the world lauds his career as a doctor, he still views his role as husband and father as more important.
Your DrH is trying! Sometimes he is doing the best with what he has. Recognize his efforts and show appreciation to him for what he does.
3. Remember to See Him for His Potential
Remember that if your DrH isn’t quite there yet at putting home and family first, try to see him for his potential. Try to lovingly remind him of what is really most important. Yes of course taking care of patients is a huge responsibility and being a doctor is a fantastic achievement, but nothing can replace being a good husband and a good dad to his kids.
My DrH didn’t see this initially either. When he started residency I think he was just trying to adjust to this new phase in his training that his vision of what really mattered got clouded. He kicked into survival mode and was very resistant to helping out with the kids or being present in his role as husband and father.
It was a hard, hard time for us and it took him a while to come around and step back into those roles again 100%. And it wasn’t just him, I was struggling with my own things as well. But during this rocky time I tried my best to see him and see his potential. I knew he was capable of so much more, because I had seen it before! I had seen him be that incredible dad and husband and I knew he could be that again. So I just hung onto that hope and worked harder than I ever had before at our marriage. And he did come around. He snapped out of it, made some changes, and now he does live up to the potential I knew was inside of him all along.
So don’t give up on your DrH if he isn’t quite there yet. Keep working with him, keep loving him, and keep believing in him. He will get there.
4. Remember to Thank Him
I hope you remember to thank your DrH for all of the amazing things he does. I always tell my husband that he is at his most attractive when I catch him playing with the kids or reading a book before bedtime and it puts the biggest smile on his face. And it’s 100% true! What better turn-on could there be than seeing the love of your life love your children so completely? Ugh I love it.
So try to remember to thank your husband for even the smallest things. Taking out the trash. Helping with bathtime. Taking the time to talk to you about your day. Taking the kids so you can get a breather. Anything and everything. Your DrH works so hard at both work and in the home – he needs to hear your appreciation.
5. Remember to Love Him
Remember to just love your man. It is truly amazing that our DrH’s can be a part of both worlds – the doctor world and the “normal” world. Love him for who he is. Love him for where he is right now. Love him despite his weaknesses and shortcomings. He needs you and your love and support more than you realize.