Aimless

I’m so tired of waiting.  I used to write somewhere else about my infertility and waiting for my life to change.  Waiting for a new beginning.  Then the fruit babes were born and I moved to the land of the sun, and I thought that was my new beginning.  But it has been a whirlwind year, and while so much is different, I still find myself waiting.  Waiting to find myself.

What a funny convergence.  I’ve been struggling with the current state of things, and then dear Emily posts of her angst with her current state of being.  We both have faced similar circumstances.  Husbands whose career is all-consuming and leads us to move frequently over the years.  Raising young children without a familial support network.  Battling infertility.  Yet I think I relate most strongly with what she has written about recently.  Feeling part of the “opt-out” generation.

I did well in school, it came easily, took little effort.  I loved my english courses, but connected with biology as well.  I also found a special niche in photography.  In undergrad I struggled with finding a path.  I vacillated between photojournalism, straight journalism, scientific writing, and even hard-core science.  I was fortunate to go to a university that allowed me to dabble in all of them.  But I never really found my path.  I actually sort-of fell into veterinary school.  I wasn’t like my classmates, who told the classic story of having childhood dreams of being a vet.  It was the right thing for me, and I don’t regret it in the least.

I thought I’d become a veterinary specialist, internal medicine was my goal.  But the pond was getting smaller, and I wasn’t such a big fish.  The details are unimportant, but after Adam finished medical school we found ourselves expecting The Snake and moving to the great white north.  After he was born I looked into returning to clinical practice.  But veterinary work is often shift work — nights and weekends.  And when you are low-woman on the totem pole, you’ve got no leverage to ask for weekday, morning shifts (yeah right).  Plus, working in a university setting had made me a snob.  I didn’t want to just squeeze anal glands and hand out steriods and the corner clinic.

Then infertily struck, and returning to work seemed even more difficult.  How could I run the home, raise The Snake AND go through treatment while working a new job?  It became easy to push off.  Limited finances made it easy to put off continuing education.  Before I knew it I was 5 years out of practice, but finally pregnant.  Having twins made it even easier to delay a return to work.

But now who am I?  A mother, certainly.  A wife.  But am I still a veterinarian?  I still tell people I am.  But now it is couched in terms like, “I was trained as a vet,” and “I’m not currently practicing.”  The most difficult thing is the way many comment that surely I will return to working, to clinical practice.  It is often with the kindest intentions that family or friends, or even acquaintances will smile and say “oh surely you can do it.”  Despite my explaining how licensing and other issues make it extremely complicated.  How it is NOT straight forward.  It would be rude to ask them if they would like their general surgeon to take 6 or 7 years off with out any continuing education only to then perform their gall bladder removal.  But this is much of what it would be like.

And then, thanks to Facebook, I see my former vet class mates, most of whom are women.  And they have children, and still work.  Some even have husbands with demanding jobs, but they still work, even full-time.  Could I have done the same?  Should I have?  Would I be happier?

Yesterday a fellow kindergarten parent told me she is alway so impressed with how calm I am.  How she would be freaking out with a need for time for herself.  So much has led me to this point.  I do want more for myself now, I need it.  Yet I wonder if I had tried harder, done more … could I have kept the option open to return to veterinary work?  Do I really want to?  I have such guilt if I don’t.  Did I waste everyone’s time and accrue a huge debt for nothing?  Our school always emphasized the many things we could do with our degree, beside typical clinical practice.  Will I have the energy to explore them?  Should I return to another path, like writing or photography?  Can I really excel in those pursuits when there are so many others who have been working all along and are still struggling to succeed?  I feel like the tiniest fish drowning alone in the abyss.

I thought the move to the beach was the new beginning, but I’m realizing it is still to come.  But what will it bring? How will I gauge success?  How will I identify myself?  Who will I become?

Most days, I’m terrified and haven’t a clue.  But on a good day, a thoughtful day, I realize … I can’t wait for it any longer.  I must move forward, in some direction.  I just hope it is the right one, or at the very least, a happy one.

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7 Responses to Aimless

  1. Emily says:

    Wow. Our stories are pretty much identical. That is amazing.

    People don’t get that in certain fields if you are out for a few years, it is over. You are out of date and you’d almost have to start from scratch to make it up.

    I am torn between feeling like a victim of circumstances and feeling like I just messed up somehow.

  2. karen pery says:

    Friend, you are speaking my language. From the other side, I can tell you that something is possible – though it may not look like what you thought it would. You are still you, with your intelligence, commitment, creativity and strength. Take a path, try it out, and keep looking for answers. (And you know where and how to find me!)

  3. Artblog says:

    I get you here, although I had many years of a career, i gave it up soon after loss number two, stress, depression etc. I often wonder where I’m going to be in the future and obviously cant contemplate it at present but I do get the same angst.

    I always said to friends who asked me when I was going back to work that it’s what I once did was probably not the best field to be in when you have kids, so I was thinking about changing direction and if that meant studying again, so be it.

    I guess we just need the time to sit and reflect and maybe some up with something suitable and doable?

    Hugs

  4. buffalokaren says:

    From one pessimist to another…(I say that with love!)

    You are one of the smartest/intellectual people I know AND you are so creative! When you choose the right path (or paths – maybe you will pursue more than one?) you will be awesome at it.

    To spend SO many years in constant upheaval with moves, etc. makes it most difficult for the “supporting” spouse. It seems we give and give with sometimes nothing in return. Soon it will be your turn and I hope you will enjoy the fact you have all these things that interest you.

    Can I add also, I admire your decision from the beginning to be a mom first to your wonderful children.

  5. docgrumbles says:

    That certainly is a lot to think about. I am not in the exact same situation, but I do have a husband whose job takes precedence and I struggle with identity issues now that I am not working (though I will return somewhat reluctantly in August). It is hard for an educated woman to embrace being a mother as a vocation. I am sure vet school involved years of grueling work. Once you’ve put in that work, you feel you should be doing the job you trained for.

    Your work as a mother is very important, and your children (hopefully) will value your sacrifice.

  6. Erica Leitzell says:

    As one of those former women vet classmates I can say I wrestle daily with the opposite thoughts. Should I not work and stay home (presently do not have this luxury as I’m the bread winner). But wanted to let you know that I think mommy guilt hits no matter what you decide to do with your life. There is no escaping it- just embrace what your life is and do not worry with what it could’ve been. Hugs to you!

  7. Aunt J says:

    What will I be when I grow up. It’s an issue that never leaves us. And when we think we figured it out and are on a path, God throws us a curve ball. I stayed home happily for 8 years. Struggled to go back to the workforce. Tried to pursue a different, creative direction like writing. It didn’t work out. Went back to the field I was trained in. Negotiated a good deal – 35 hours salaried. Was successfully balancing it all for two years. Then the recession came. I am now unemployed. I wonder what I’ll be when I grow up…..
    I think women have to be more like Madonna and have the ability to re-invent ourselves when necessary. Do something for yourself today so you have the energy to re-invent when necessary.

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