Guest post by Heidi Isenberg-Feig.
If you were to ask me how I describe myself, in no particular order, I am: a mother, wife, doctor, sister, daughter, manager and friend. Each of these roles is first in line at least once a day as I contemplate the notion of work-life balance. I'm about to shift them around again, as I close my solo medical practice in search of more family time.
I love having three kids. I knew when I was pregnant with my second that I wasn't "done," with kids and I continued to feel that way despite his lack of sleep and refusal to eat. When I became pregnant with my third, I panicked. Although she was very much planned, I wondered, "What if it is another boy?" I struggle keeping up with the physical energy of our three-year old son, which calls to mind the Tasmanian Devil from Warner Brothers. Then I fretted, "What if it is another girl?" I can’t deal with the drama -- our six-year old daughter could write her own soap opera AND star in it.
At 38, I was tired, but I knew that I couldn't handle being over 40 and pregnant (I know a bunch of women who could and did, but I am not one of them) and I knew we wanted a third. (I negotiated it down to three -- my husband wanted four!) I obsessed for a while and had CVS at 13 weeks or so, followed my doctor's orders, took Pilates classes for the entire nine months and had baby number three in August: another girl -- more drama!
So I am in the process of getting rid of all my boy clothing and trying not to look back. We have been blessed with three beautiful children and every day is a gift. They are our greatest joy. However, while my husband embraces the chaos that is our house every day after work, I am having some issues.
My husband is fabulous. He is an absolute partner in parenting. I know how lucky I am to have him and I thank G-D every day for my family. He has seemingly limitless patience for the kids jumping all over him. I am not beyond yelling at one or more of the kids for minor infractions when I am sleep deprived, which is almost every day with the 6 month old's current refluxy state. I am also lobbying for adding another day to the week so I can actually get things done.
I am a disorganized person. As much as I try, I have no great system that works for me. I just never learned how to compartmentalize. I am working on achieving some sort of…I know, you expect me to say, balance, but there are so many books and articles about work-life balance, that I can't imagine that any one person has it right. If there is truly a balance, why do we need so many books about it? If any one person had a perfect technique, why don’t we all use it? Perhaps I am just looking for a good "fit" for me: an adjustable system with places to add things. When I think of balance I think of everything on an even plane, but something has to prevail. Whether it is work, kids, marriage, exercise, social activities, something always has to give.
At this phase of my life, all of my various roles are up in the air…constantly in flux and ever changing. I am entering a new phase right now, where being a mom and wife are my most important jobs. So I am accepting that managing a medical practice is not for me right now and I will no longer be self-employed. Giving up the autonomy is a hard pill to swallow, but right now, it is what I have to do in my revised role of mom of three. Ask me how I describe myself again in 5 years – I am sure I will have a different answer.
Heidi Isenberg-Feig is a mother of three, wife and physician in Maryland.
Photo by Ian B-M via Flickr.