I experience many emotions being married to an ER doctor. Pride. Fear. Admiration. Frustration. Until recently, jealousy was not on this list. From stories of him singlehandedly saving a patient’s life to receiving strong test scores after months of studying, I am continually proud of my husband’s hard work and accomplishments. However, this past June as we approached his graduation from ER residency, I experienced a new emotion. Jealousy.
I was struggling with all of the praise he was receiving and didn’t know why I struggling. To my own shock and embarrassment, I finally realized that I was jealous of his accomplishment.
I wanted my own accomplishments.
We met ten years ago as he quit his job as an accountant and started premed classes. His goal was to become an ER doctor. Mine was to run a nonprofit. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, I reached my goal– I served as the executive director of a nonprofit organization after spending several years in nonprofit fundraising. I loved my job and enjoyed working on behalf of women (and sometimes men) facing breast cancer. I had a defined sense of purpose and knew that my every day work made a difference in our community. And then came motherhood, which was closely followed by residency. Due to the irregularity of the residency schedule and lack of nearby family support, we decided that I would stay at home with our now two young sons.
With this change, I began to miss being in a professional environment, using my skills and education, and let’s be honest, dressing up and adult conversations. But at that time, I didn’t feel jealous of my husband’s world. I was probably too overwhelmed with figuring out the rhythm of being a stay-at-home mom and residency wife. However, as he finally accomplished a ten year goal with residency graduation, I realized that I wanted my own goals too. I want my own identity, with my own accomplishments, my own sense of purpose.
It’s hard for me to view motherhood in that way, and I acknowledge that most days, my mothering skills are not accolade-worthy. Most days I’m just thankful that we make it through the day and share a few laughs or adventure together.
I know that I am in the right place right now for our family, but the longing for personal accomplishments remains. I may be someone who has a continuous internal battle about staying home versus working, but how I define accomplishment and where I find my pride must adapt beyond the professional world. It’s no longer the news of a funded grant application, but watching my children make positive choices and hopefully one day grow into young men of integrity that will bring me a sense of accomplishment and immense pride.
These “accomplishments” aren’t immediate and require patience and endurance. As a stay-at-home mom, my definition of success must change.
So as a new Corpus Christi resident, I look forward to meeting other moms as I navigate through difficult mommy identity issues and attempt to find a place/role that I can call my own.