resident wifeI see you. I see you trying to put your game face on everyday but knowing how you really feel on the inside.

I know some days you are nervous and you wonder how you will make this work. I know some days you are just done being a resident wife. I know some days it takes every ounce of energy you have to keep it together, and sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes you hide in your closet and weep so your kids don’t have to see and ask, “Why are you sad, mom?”

You hide your feelings from others, your own children included, so you don’t have to explain to them the millions of reasons why you feel like you are falling apart. Why you are so angry at this process of becoming a doctor and how it takes your husband away for 80+ hours a week. Why you are miserable because residency leaves him drained and emotionally unavailable at home. How he gives so much at the hospital that he hardly has anything left to give when he gets home.  Why you are burned out because you have to take care of the billions of little (and big things) behind the scenes, by yourself, that no one sees.

I see you when you talk to people about your life as a doctor’s wife.

When people ask, “How are things?”, you slap on your smile and say that everything is fine. Because you already know the majority of people will not understand, because you’ve tried explaining before. You’ve had a few, rare moments where you’ve let your guard down and shared your heartache with someone else. Family members even. And they tried to understand, they tried to comfort you, and you can tell they really want to help.

But the understanding, the comfort, and all of the efforts were wrong. They did not fill in your cracks because they didn’t fit. Because they don’t know. How can they?

And over time, you’ve realized the only people who truly share the joys and sorrows of being a doctor’s wife are those who are also married to a doctor. It’s those who have been there, who are treading the same path you are. And so you button up your emotions again and put your smile back where it belongs.

I see your sweet relief when you finally, FINALLY talk to that someone, that fellow doctor’s wife, who GETS IT. Who will hear out your stresses and sorrows and not think you are crazy. Who nods with understanding, who shares stories similar to yours, and who knows where you are coming from. And finally, someone is filling your cracks with comfort and understanding that fit.

I see you and how exhausted you are.

I know that you are, essentially, doing it all. Your DrH probably works 12+ hours a day, then comes home and spends 2-3 hours finishing up his charting or studying for his next test. And then he has to cram some sleep in there somewhere.

He doesn’t have the time to do oil changes, car repairs, parent-teacher conferences, budgeting, bill-paying, or lawn maintenance. Almost everything falls on your shoulders.

You and your DrH are both exhausted and you both work so hard. And I know it’s frustrating that everyone sees the hard work your DrH is doing and hardly anyone acknowledges the sacrifices you are making behind the scenes. The hard work you put into this to make his doctor dream even possible.

I see you and how jealous you are of “normal” people sometimes.

I know you almost resent your friends whose husband’s get home at 5 pm and help do the dishes, bathe the kids, or help with bedtime. Your friends whose husbands are able to go to every soccer game, every dance recital, every important school meeting and every family reunion. Of course your DrH would like to do those things and be more involved at home, but it’s not in the cards. Being a doctor means other people need him, and those other people (his patients) often trump his needs, your needs and the needs of your family.

I see you and how lonely you are.

I know that you spend the majority of the day without your DrH around. Yes you might have kids that sometimes stifle the loneliness, but I know you crave conversation with adults and not just your littles. I know you feel like you might go crazy if you have to eat dinner alone AGAIN.

I know you may have moved to a new area for residency and are starting over with making new friends. You may not have any family nearby. I know sometimes you miss your medical school family like CRAZY and you crave those kind of close relationships again. I know you are making efforts to make those new friendships and feel like nothing is working. And I know that, with time, you will have those close friendships you are looking for.

I see you trying to make your money last through the month.

I see you pinching your pennies because residents make pennies for the amount of work they do.

I know you meticulously go over what is in your shopping cart and you put some items back. I know you wish you could buy yourself new clothes that actually fit. I know you wish you could put your kids in all kinds of fun classes and extracurricular activities. I know you wish you could eat out more than once or twice a month or actually be able to afford a babysitter more often. I know you are sick of renting and want to live in a home big enough for your family. I know the amount of debt you are in from school loans makes you head spin.

I know you are sick of STILL being poor, even though your husband has worked his butt off for years. I know you can’t wait until all of his hard work is appropriately rewarded.

I see you and how proud you are of your husband.

Even though being a resident wife is hard, I see how proud you are of him. I see how you smile when he tells you how he was the one who caught a problem that everyone else had missed. I see how you beam with pride when he tells you that he got some great feedback from one of his attending physicians. I see you look at your husband with disbelief and awe as you hear about the problems he solved, the patients he helped to heal, and the lives he saved.

And you know what? You should be proud of yourself too. Becoming a doctor is a team sport. You both made it through medical school applications and interviewing. You both made it through medical school itself, with late-night studying, tests, and clinical rotations. And you both made it to residency after more interviews and a nerve-wracking match process.

And you will both make it through this next phase of his training, this next step. You will both make it through residency and move on to the “It gets better” job. Your DrH can do this doctor thing because of you. You are the one that keeps him going. You are the one that makes home a safe haven from the stresses of the hospital. You are the one that lifts his heart with your encouraging smiles and your comforting affection. He could not do this without you.

I see you. I understand. And I know you can do this.

** Image from Unsplash