Sunday, November 27, 2011
Day of thanks #27
Today I am grateful for all of the amazing friends I made while living in Ohio. Growing up in Pennsylvania, going to high school and college there, getting my first and second real jobs there, getting married there, having my first baby there, having ALL of my family and friends still there....it made it difficult to move to a different state when Patrick was offered his residency spot there. And let's face it...Ohio? It didn't sound very exciting. But boy was I very wrong!!!
We moved into a great neighborhood (with great neighbors) and within the first 2 weeks I ran into a friend from elementary school who lived around the corner from me now again in Hilliard, OH. What were the odds? My best buddy from birth to 6 years old lived one town over (our moms are still friends too) with his family. I started going to the Wive's club for all of the resident's spouses. And I met some lifelong friends. And some I only knew for a few months - but were a huge impact on me! We created traditions, girls nights, midnight Twilight movie going, Thursday night meetings, holiday parties, playgroups, ZooKids, etc. We babysat for each other so we could go out with our hubby (and not have to pay for a sitter because we were all so broke). We carpooled, brought each other food when we had babies, held each others hands during struggles, and understood one another. Here is a little blurb I wrote one time about it (I just ran across this story on my computer which made me think of it - but I am grateful EVERY DAY for the women I met there)...
My New Life as an Attending’s Wife. By: Kelly Bull
There is an old French proverb we have all heard before; “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. Broken down, it means change is constant and the nature of it makes it permanent. I wish I had contemplated this statement a lot more in the past 5 years.
I am not sure if I was expecting the seas to part and the stars to align after my husband finished his residency. I remember as he was entering his internship year that 5 years seemed so distant. And yet I sit here today remembering it like it was yesterday. I clearly remember being nervous for him, anxious about our family life (and the effects living in Ohio and being in residency would have on it), worried about our finances for the next few years, and sad for myself since I just moved 400 miles away from all the friends and family I had ever known.
I started dating my husband about 6 months before he started medical school so I was never involved with any of the spouse support groups (aka SAA). When we did get married (just before residency started) I promised I would get involved with the hospital’s local Advocate organization. I figured if anyone else were to understand all of my thoughts, concerns and joys – it would be people going through the same situation.
I started out slow at first. A meeting here. A meeting there. Never fully committed because I knew I was only going to be living in Columbus, Ohio for 5 years. I would use the group to help me get through some of the transitions, but not truly invest myself in it. But slowly and surely I found myself making friends. Real friends. People I liked regardless of the fact that we were bonded initially based on our husbands’ careers. I spent less and less time planning trips back to Pennsylvania (my home state) and more time planning play dates and Grey’s Anatomy nights (since it is dreadful to watch that show with a physician husband pointing out the inaccuracies every other minute).
I remember in the early years of residency that my husband and I would get a little nervous when we would go to a ‘senior resident’s’ house for dinner. We didn’t want to do or say anything that would be stupid or jeopardize his work relationships. And we would certainly be on best behavior if we ever got invited to an Attending’s house! Things eased up a bit as the years went on and my husband was the senior resident, but there was still a bit of intimidation when in the presence of an Attending outside of work.
By those later years I was heavily committed to our Advocate Group. I was in charge of organizing the events calendar and for helping raise funds that we would donate to non-profits needing our help. I was working alongside a lot of Attending’s wives and realized that they have been in my shoes before. Their husbands went through residency too. Some many years ago and some just got finished. It gave me my first insight on the fact that life really does come full circle.
But, even more than that, I was realizing that I was heavily committed to the women involved in our group. I cared so deeply for each person involved. These were my friends, my neighbors, my war buddies. We supported each other through block nights, trauma rotations and “80 hour work weeks” (haha). But more than that we supported each other through new babies, lost babies, divorces, parents’ deaths, first days of school, bad haircuts, disabilities, infertility and lackadaisical husbands. We had our normal Advocate events such as game nights, Marriage enrichment and holiday parties. But we also had events outside of the group such as bridal showers, children’s’ birthday parties and girls weekend in the mountains.
These friends would go on week-long vacations with me and my kids since our husbands were working so much they were never home. These friends would make me dinners for weeks/months after I had a baby since I couldn’t even take time to get a shower some days. These friends looked forward to my monthly scrapbooking night I made up just as an excuse to get together one more time with each other. These friends watched my children when I was sick and also when I just needed to go get a pedicure. These friends introduced me to new religions (the beliefs) and True Religions (the jeans). And most importantly, these friends helped me get through the trenches of womanhood when I thought I was a total failure as a wife and a mother.
And then, in the blink of an eye, these friends could be gone. Not literally, but physically. And new friends can come along. A friend a year ahead of me moved to Cincinnati for her husband’s dream fellowship while I still had another year left. I met a friend who started coming to the group because she noticed I was wearing designer jeans. My friend I went on vacations with moved to Illinois when her husband transferred to a different residency program. An Attending’s wife who is younger than me (only be a few months!!!) becomes one of my closest friends. My best friend through all five years builds and moves into her dream house in South Carolina. I met a new woman at playgroup and realized she just moved across the street and will spend countless hours sitting on my deck and talking. I found 2 ladies who I know would take over the playgroup and Advocate’s scheduling and events (from said best friend and me) with as much love and attention as it deserves. And as for myself, well, I move to Japan because my husband is paying back his time with the Air Force, leaving all of my ‘junior’ friends behind.
So, as much as things have changed in my life, I am sitting here in a very familiar situation. My husband and I both get jittery (again) when we are asked to a General’s house or when we have to talk to a Colonel's wife. I am nervous for my husband as he starts his practice on his own, without an Attending to fall back on and with the added stress of being in the military now. I am anxious about our family life and how our kids will adjust to living in Japan, how I will adjust to him being on-call for weeks at a time, and what will happen if he gets deployed. And I also feel a little sad for myself again. 7000 miles IS a lot farther than 400. I can’t just pack the kids in the car and drive when I miss my friends and family or to even attend my own Grandfather’s funeral.
But like as I adjusted and thrived in residency life, I know I will in Attending life too. My status quo will be happiness. Nothing has changed because everything has. I will slowly and surely start being more involved with the Officer’s Spouse Club. I will make friends that will be neighbors, friends that will work with my husband, and friends who have children that my kids are friends with. I will begin to look forward to going to the Air Force Ball instead of thinking ahead 4 months to when I will be in the States again. I will organize golf fundraisers and feel a sense of accomplishment that I did something that was a positive influence here.
And, although so many of the feelings and situations I find myself in today are the exact same as they were 5 years ago, there is still one major thing that is different…
The salary ☺