Here’s how being a parent changes you as a physician

I sit in my living room at the end of a long day. I open my laptop to complete the day’s clinic notes. I look up to see my daughter busy painting (she’s two years old, so less than half the paint is going on the coloring book and most is being smeared over her hands and feet). I hear the distant clatter of dishes as my husband loads the dishwasher. I soak it in. This rare moment of tranquility. No urgent needs to be met — no diaper to be changed, nose to be blown, nursery rhymes to be sung ad nauseam. I take a minute to step back and imagine an alternate reality. How different would life be had my husband and I decided to wait to become parents until after residency?

Baby girl is still blissfully immersed in painting “The Starry Night” all over herself, and husband has emerged from the kitchen with a snack. Both appear to be content. So if I avoid eye contact, maybe I can get a few more minutes to picture an alternate reality. A typical day might start off with me snoozing my alarm a few times before finally deciding to get out of bed at 5 a.m. (I’m still a resident in this fantasy so, of course, I’m waking up at dawn). The difference is I have the liberty of choosing how to wake up, as opposed to being repeatedly smacked on my forehead until I beg for mercy and roll out of bed (yes, she was born with an internal clock that is independent of times zones and weekends).

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