They say we marry men with qualities similar to our fathers. For many women, this concept may seem ridiculous. For me, though, it’s true.
I have vague memories of my dad getting home from work when I was young. I’d hug him and say, “You ‘mell bad, Dada!”
That distinct hospital smell is one you don’t forget. I remember the green scrubs. I remember feeling proud that my dad was a doctor. He was smart, and he was brave.
He is smart. He is brave. And as luck would have it, so is my husband. He wears the scrubs (they’re blue these days), and he has that smell. He’s regularly greeted at the door every single evening by an excited two-year-old yelling, “Dada’s home! Dada’s home!”
Sadly, these days, the hugs aren’t immediate. Due to the recent pandemic, scrubs come off in the garage, and hugs have to wait until after he’s showered.
I Always Saw Scrubs
I never set out to marry a doctor, but if I’m honest…I always saw scrubs when I pictured my future. I saw the little girl running to the door, anxious to greet her daddy. I saw the proud smile on her face.
It’s just all I knew. My grandfather was a doctor, the patriarch, and the heart of our family. Growing up, the men I trusted and loved the most spent their days helping others “feel betta,” as my toddler would say.
As we’re still in the trenches of my husband’s pediatric residency, which will likely be followed by a fellowship, it’s hard to believe the light at the end of this tunnel is still another five years away.
When I married my husband, it had nothing to do with his future career in medicine. I married him for his kind heart and intense desire to help others, among other things. His profession is admirable, but it’s no gold mine. It’s important, but it often doesn’t get the respect it truly deserves. It’s a stable career…once you reach that light. Until then, it takes a toll on the physician, the family, the finances and more.
Be Wary Before You Marry
Before you consider smelly scrubs a prerequisite for marriage, consider a few things…
Don’t marry a doctor if you’re lonely. Luckily, I’m someone who enjoys my alone time (especially since becoming a mom). Still, the comfort your partner brings can’t always be replaced with Netflix binging or a good book. And once kids are in the picture, you’ll rarely wish for two hands over four.
Over the years, I’ve had to accept that boards are the priority, and 12-hour shifts are the norm. As hard as it can be sometimes, there is no arguing about my husband’s schedule or study time. It is what it is. It’s a lifestyle we signed up for when we started this journey. He’s a family man who helps absolutely any time he can, but those times are limited when you carry the responsibility of others’ health.
Does that mean I never feel resentful or sad? Absolutely not. Sometimes, it sucks.
Don’t marry a doctor if you want to be “set” when you reach 30. I’ll be 30 in four months, and the money that’s currently in my bank account couldn’t cover my car note. We have two precious little girls and a mortgage. We have debt up to our ears in student loans for medical school.
We live paycheck to paycheck, but we always make it work. Granted, my husband and I decided I would stay home with our children before we even had kids. A second income would surely be helpful, but I wasn’t making enough in advertising to cover much more than daycare costs. It just made sense to stay home, and it’s what I always saw myself doing (eventually), anyway.
It may surprise people that my husband is already a physician but gets paid less than the nursing staff. That’s residency for you. That’s potentially the next five years for us.
Don’t marry a doctor if you have a plan. If you’re set on a particular city, state or even area of the country you want to live and raise a family, this isn’t the path for you. Medical school took us from Atlanta to Jackson, Mississippi. Residency took us from Jackson to Baton Rouge. If fellowship is in the cards, we’ll have no choice but to leave. We do what we have to do to make this dream a reality.
I never imagined we would have two little girls just four years after our wedding…both still in our twenties. However, once medical school started, we quickly realized there would never be an ideal time for us to have kids. All plans went out the window, and we didn’t look at our house, bank accounts or families to tell us when the time was right.
We said when the time was right. We lived our lives and decided along the way (and will continue to do so). Sometimes, that’s all you can do. Sometimes, it’s the best thing you can do.
Don’t marry a doctor if you want it easy.
But, if you want to be with someone who heals, marry a doctor.
If you want to be with someone who selflessly puts the health of others above his or her own, marry a doctor.
If you want to feel so proud you could burst, marry a doctor.
If purpose is what you’re after, marry a doctor. You might not be treating patients, but your love, support, listening ears, and welcoming arms will make all the difference as the two of you work towards that light. As a result, lives could one day be saved.
If you want to be with someone who values life tremendously and looks at his little girls as if they’re angels on Earth, marry a doctor.
His job may drive you crazy, but his heart will make it all worth it.