Zawisza boysUsually to restore wellness, one seeks activities that are peaceful and tranquil. Such activities might include yoga, meditation, exercise, or reading.

Four young boys chasing each other through the house, yelling and wrestling, would certainly not be described as peaceful. And yet, for myself, our loud and rambunctious household is what I turn to the vast majority of the time to restore my wellness.

Parenting in a two-physician household of course does present a unique set of challenges and stressors. Leaving a sick child at home while I go out to care for someone else’s sick child will always be an emotional challenge for me. And on more than one occasion, I’ve said good night prayers with my boys over the phone rather than in person, because I’m at the hospital waiting to attend a delivery.

But these children of mine, in a very simple way, don’t allow me to get stuck in a quagmire of guilt or sadness for too long. I once received a phone call at home for an admission regarding a patient who would likely need surgery. I was already starting to stress over the details in my mind before I even got off the phone, only to hang up and find that the four of them had heard me mention surgery and had immediately gone to find their (toy) power tools and were performing surgery on each other. The ensuing laughter immediately eased my mind.

As my children get older and I get to share aspects of my “other job” with them, I am reminded how much joy I have in caring for patients, and it brings me back to why I became a physician in the first place. I get to ignore the drudgery of the medical field and pare it down to its purist form when explaining the basics of childhood illnesses to someone with an innocent perspective. It brings me joy when my nine-year-old asks again to see a video of a pumping heart and to explain how it works. I am humbled when my six-year-old asks why some babies are born too early and why we can’t save them.

Of course, there are days when my boys create more stress than my career brings. But most days, it is simply their laughter, their scheming, and the general mayhem that work together to restore my mental health.
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Christopher Olson - Friday, October 16, 2020

Good Mother.

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