when dad works long hours

when your dad is in medical residency, the hours at work are long and the time at home feels so short.

steven is a neurology resident, nearing the end of his pgy3. one more year to go and then two years of fellowship and then, i think, is a light at the end of the tunnel. but right now, the 12-hour shifts that turn into 15-hour shifts, the overnights and the pager that has become part of his body and is always beep-beep-beeeeping feels like it will never end.

it means i solo mom a lot.

before it sounds like i’m complaining —  i’m not. i know steven has it worse than we do. yeah, i definitely change more diapers than he does, but i get to spend my whole day with mila going to the library and to parks and having playdates. he’s stuck at the hospital, and though he loves his job, i know he’s missing us.

i know lots of mamas who’s partners are also working 80-hour weeks. they’re photographers, realtors, entrepreneurs. and it’s hard. hard to miss them and hard to be the sole caregiver for such long stretches. it’s why many of my mama friends choose to stay home with their kiddos, or work part time. it feels good to provide consistency for our babies when dad’s work schedule is so unpredictable.

when mila was a tiny baby, steven’s time at work was hardest on me. she didn’t do much to keep me entertained and, man, i was changing one million diapers a day. but now, i can totally tell his time away is harder her. she’s 14-months old and already, she’s able to tell me she misses him.

when she brings my phone to me and says “dada”, i know it means she wants to facetime him. we are so thankful for facetime! if he has a few minutes free, she holds the phone and babbles to him, kisses him, pets his face… carries him around the house and shows him the dog. it is so, so cute.

we also spend a lot of time visiting steven at the hospital, which i’m thankful we’re able to do. we bring dinner when he can’t get home, and stop by for quick visits when i know they won’t be able to see each other that day. being a parent is all about teamwork, and i know it’s so important for mila to get as much time as she can with both of us.

i go to the OB at steven’s hospital, so he got to duck out of the office for a few minutes and come to our last appointment — and see mila, for the first time in 72 hours. she hugged him for so long!
at least twice a week, dinner is fast food at the hospital so mila and steven can spend some time together when he’s on 24-hour shifts.

 

i always think back to a coffee date i had with another resident’s wife a couple years ago, before mila was born. she told me she was “basically a single parent” because her husband works so much and that her kids barely recognized him. that really stuck with me. as a mom myself now, i look back on that conversation and think: what a horrible thing to say about your husband and what a negative attitude to have about the way you’re both parenting. i try not to be a judge mom, but being in her exact same circumstance gives me a little leeway. claiming she’s basically a single parent says just as much about her parenting mindset as it does about her husband’s schedule. i would never say i felt like a single parent: first, how offensive to actual single parents and second, how offensive to the husband.

steven works so hard for his patients and for us. he never complains about his long hours. he always thanks us for visiting him and when he’s home he spends every second playing with mila. taking care of her, reading to her, taking her on walks. he is the world’s best dad and we are so lucky to have him.

mila and i are pretty connected. we’re together 24/7, so it makes sense. one thing we started doing very early in her life to make sure she was just as connected with steven was establish a nighttime routine for the two of them. he always gives her a bath and rocks her to sleep at night. i think, especially when she was tinier, having that routine made a huge impact on how they bonded. even if he was working all day long, she knew he would be there for bath and bed. i love that this is their thing and steven loves getting some snuggle time in with her at night.

but when he’s on a 24, i have to do the bedtime. and the other night, as i was rocking her she fell asleep on my shoulder whispering “dada, dada”. it almost broke my heart.

he got home from work around the time she woke up in the morning, and even after a 26-hour shift, still made her pancakes for breakfast. its no wonder why she’s so in love with him.

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