Tuesday, December 05, 2006

addressing the work, life, bedroom imbalance

From writing weekly contributions I have been reduced to monthly and then to bi-monthly blogs and this is only having three kids and working one day a week. This is the nature of the extra work of another child: not quite the total life-changing event that one child was. And yet with one child, and two parents, one of you can have time off; both of you can remain in vague contact with the person they once were, and the persons that person knew. With two children you seem to enter the proper family zone. Like my attempts to give up smoking during which (I had plenty occasions out of the 18 campaigns it took) I noticed the warped pleasure it gave smokers to re-convert an ex-smoker. “Come, die with me...” they seemed to be saying. And, at 3am in an endless night in casualty with an operating list stretching forward all morning ahead to the blinkered afternoon in clinic where you foresaw yourself stumbling over words and staying late to dictate the letters slower and slower like your Duracell batteries finally running down: ‘Come on, come out for a fag’. You grab your moment. Inhale a bit of non-work outside, just out of earshot of the sea, and round the corner from the stars.
Yeah, just like that. Those whose lives are already sold out to children beckon you to join the fold: well, are you going to go on and have another? Are you trying? It never ceases to amaze me how close people can get to asking you about how much sex you are having and thinking about the details of it when they hardly know your name. Something about kids allows an incursion into what was your private life – from the hand on your bump of a stranger on the tube (I’ve had to restrain myself from thumping a few. Restrain, as it wouldn’t look right, from a heavily pregnant woman. Thumping because your instincts are to thwack anyone who so blatantly invades your personal space and is over, say 5 years old) to the sweet ladies in the street who stop you on the pretext of cooing over your baby in order to lecture you on what you should be feeding them and what to dress them in. It is the men who suffer the worst from this. A friend in Boston was accosted by a lady who stopped her car in a blizzard to shout at him for having his baby out (warmly strapped to his front and under his coat) in this weather. Note, she didn’t offer him a lift...

I’m not sure I can blame society and other parents for having three kids in a two bed flat. However problematic this may be, I am seriously starting to worry about going back to working three days a week. It still sounds pretty part time, but there is a huge difference between a sessional job with no responsibility beyond, and being a surgical registrar with responsibility for the firm: on-call patients, the post-op patients, the list, the important ones from clinic, learning and teaching. I know myself now, and I do not have a part-time mentality. Ironic that, when so many full-timers do. I find it impossible to clock off, in fact some of the satisfaction of the job is going home knowing everyone is sorted. And there is the concern about having not operated for what will be three years. The surgical profession rarely has someone back from a maternity leave that has gone on so long, unlike GP or other specialties with women predominating who are having to accomodate real flexible working; however, people do often take out three years to do a PhD/MD (this will soon cease so we are led to believe). Although it is not essential and not monitored, it is assumed that most trainees will have kept their hand in by doing locums during these three years. And then they re-start in the job bang and the system has to cope. My late boss, who’d had some maternity leave herself used to say that the operating comes back easily, like riding a bike. She warned me that it was the judgement that fell behind. At least doing a PhD, you’d come back an expert in a small section of some esoteric bit of molecular stuff that you’d have been to a few conferences to talk about. Your confidence would be high at least on an aspect of the academic side. All I’ll be qualified to talk about is multi-tasking the toddling baby, the new schoolboy’s homework and the older schoolboys nightmares.
At least it is yet a long way off.
I’ll keep the blog posted as the big days near – though even less frequently on the current showing. It’s my last chance to complete my training. I just wonder if I want it any more...

1 comment:

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