Sincerely Your Doctor’s Wife: Jen’s Story
I got to know Jen and her family a few months before I got married and she has been a role model in many ways. She is not only a great support to her husband but also a fun and amazing mom to two rambunctious little boys! If Dr.J and I have kids during his time in residency, I am most definitely gonna go to Jen for advice! Seriously, she is like a super mom :p A humble godly super mom who makes the best chocolate chip cookies! When I think of Jen, I think of easy going, sarcastic/sassy, and kind 🙂
Q: Please introduce yourself and how you met your husband. Can you please share where he is in his journey ( school, residency, fellowship, working) and his specialty.
Jen: Hi! I’m Jen, proud mom to two rambunctious boys: Christian (5), and Elliot (2). I’ve been in survival mode for the past 5 years but have managed, by God’s grace, to keep everybody in my house alive including myself, so I’d say I’m winning. I am married to my wonderful husband, Mike who is currently a 2nd year PM&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) resident at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. We met almost 17 years ago in Berkeley, California through a mutual friend when we were both 18. Apparently I was too “emo” for him then. But he matured a little bit and realized a good thing when he saw it and mustered up the guts to ask me out 8 years later. The rest is history!
Q: Where were you in your lives when you and your husband started his medical professional journey?
Jen: We had just gotten married 5 months prior to Mike’s medical school start date, but the real ticker was three months after, I found out I was also pregnant with our first child. So, like most first time parents-to-be, Mike and I buckled our seat belts real tight, hoped for the best and braced ourselves for the worst.
Q: What are some blessings you have experienced from being married to a medical professional?
Jen: I’ve enjoyed many nights of sleep sprawled out on a queen-sized bed (mind you, I had never owned anything bigger than a twin bed up until then) without this giant human-being cramping up my personal space. Just kidding, sort of 😉 I do have fond memories of Mike coming home, telling me stories of the patients he’s helped; some of grief and loss, others of joy and progress. He gets these incredible opportunities to serve people who are suffering physically and though it’s not at all like Grey’s Anatomy where doctors kum-bah-ya with their patients or family members in the waiting room, his job allows him to help people in a very tangible way.Though I get the experience second-hand, not only do I see Mike grow in his profession and as a human-being, I’m also able to gain some perspective, especially after a difficult day at home with the boys.
Q: What are some of the challenges? How did you personally cope with them?
Jen: I’d say the biggest challenge is having to let go of expectations. The expectation that we can go out for date night, or that he’ll take the kids on an outing to the park or museum, or that he’ll even show up for dinner. One of the more recent challenges I’ve been facing is now that my older child is in pre-kindergarten, our calendar has become flooded with school events, birthday parties, field trips etc.. who knew 5 year-olds lead such busy social lives! Aside from a birthday party or two, I can’t recall any events Mike attended this year, including Christian’s Christmas concert. I often feel like I’m a single mom, even though Mike is an amazing father and gives 110% when he can. When it comes to coping, I don’t really have a game-plan mainly because time doesn’t allow for it most days. But looking back now, there were actually many nights when I’d just pray in bed after the kids went down. I’d pray to God for strength, mainly. I’d also pray that I wouldn’t burn out or lash out at Mike. When he was in med school and his intern year of residency, church community played a huge role in helping me deal with disappointment, loneliness, and pure exhaustion. I was able to meet up with other wives and moms, people were willing to babysit the boys when we were in desperate need of a night out, or drop off food when I had my hands full with a toddler and newborn. For all that and more, I am eternally grateful (shout-out to our family back at BCC!).
Q: Any advice or tips you can give to other doctor’s wives or wives married to husbands with demanding work schedules?
Jen: I know this is super cliche- but it boils down to mind over matter. Have ZERO expectations (preaching to the choir here)! Though it seems like a dismal attitude to approach your marriage relationship, it is a very practical way to save it. But also remember that having zero expectations doesn’t mean your mister gets an eternal hall pass- after all, underneath the white coats, they’re guys;) When I compare times I’ve expected something versus times I’ve expected nothing, I realize the latter trained me not to think the worst of Mike. Rather, it’s trained me to believe he’s doing the best he can with our current situation and to serve my family whole-heartedly.
Q: Are there any stereotypes or misconceptions about being a doctor’s wife that you would like to dispel and clear up?
Jen: I guess it never dawned on me that being married to a doctor was so different from being married to any other professional. I’d like to think that I married Mike because he’s a decent, tall, good-looking man with strong personal convictions. He just so happens to be a doc! Come to think of it, we never really use the word “doctor” much in our house. On a handful of occasions, Christian has boldly proclaimed, “Daddy’s not a real doctor!” I think there’s a verse in Mark somewhere… “A prophet is not without honor except in his own home.” In our home, Mike will always be the intern! As for common misconceptions- We are not rich and probably won’t be even when we’re done paying off Mike’s med school debt. Also, we still have to do regular check-ups with doctors that don’t live under our roof, unfortunately! Maybe Christian was right;)
Q: How has your faith played a role in your specific situation?
Jen: My faith is definitely not the glue that holds this family together. I have failed so many times to be the strong, supportive wife and mother that I wish I could be. If anything, my faith in God has always helped me look outside myself at the bigger picture. This is only a season of our lives. A blip in eternity. Those times I was able to pray at night in moments of weakness acknowledges that God meets my family’s needs regardless of whether Mike’s physically there or not. I won’t lie, it’s been tough here in Boston, being away from our support system back home. But God is enough. He has to be.