This Message Was Sent With High Importance
When I got to the hospital this morning, I opened my work email and did a double-take. Fifteen new messages, and all of them with a little red exclamation point next to them. If you hover over the exclamation point, it says “this message was sent with high importance”.
I had to laugh. Really? Every single thing anyone has to say to me is of such high importance that it has to be flagged?
I love my job and I love being a single mom, but to tell you the truth, my double life wears me down a little bit sometimes. I could use a break. Or a nanny. Or a cook. Does anyone have a nanny who cooks that I can borrow?
Sometimes I get caught up in work and all the things that are expected of me during my residency, so much that when I get home I am too tired to interact much with Caroline. I get her fed and bathed and put to bed, sure, but it’s more like I am surviving than living. It’s hard to pick out exactly what should be demanding more of my attention, which, let’s face it, will never be undivided.
I mean, sure, my patients will always be one of my top priorities: a woman who is too embarrassed to smile because she is missing her front teeth, a man who needs multiple root canals and lives in pain because of it, a cancer patient who needs infected teeth extracted before she begins the chemo and radiation treatments that will save her life but temporarily destroy her immune system.
But what about my daughter, who needs me more than any of those people? They just need a dentist… any dentist. Caroline needs me. I’m the only stable figure in her life. All the little things like reading her a book before bedtime, blowing bubbles, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, listening to her daily list of who she hugged at daycare, or just sitting down and talking to her about what she did that day… those messages are of ”high importance” too.
So, I try to be strict about compartmentalizing my day. When I’m at work, I devote my full attention to my patients until I’ve dealt with every issue and every chart. When I’m home and Caroline is awake, that is her time. I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t return pages, and I don’t turn on the computer. She’s in bed by 7:30– partially because she needs her rest, and partially because I need my time. After she’s in bed, I take a half hour to quickly clean up and get ready for the next day, and then that time is for me.
The thing is, not every single thing is of “high importance”. Some things are. But the others… you just have to draw the line somewhere and let go of them. That chart that the finance department desperately needs right this second? I’ll get it to them after my next patient. That fourth book Caroline needs me to read before she can possibly go to sleep? It’s 8pm and I think three is enough for tonight, kid.
It sucks to feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions, and I can’t always figure out who needs me the most. Fortunately, I can usually scrape together enough hours in the day to devote to everyone… including myself. It doesn’t leave much time for sleep, but hey… there’s always caffeine, right?
Working parents, married or single– how do you manage to fit everyone in to your day?Add a Comment