Inferiority Complex

Today, the NDB and I are going to a playgroup that’s part of the spouses’ organization of NewDotDad’s residency program. It’s a really great idea – here we are, the wives and husbands of busy interns, residents, and fellows – we have a lot in common and we can certainly understand the unique position of these training years.

When someone asks what we do for a living, I say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom now, and NDD is a doctor.” I think that for most people, that conjures up the idea of a life of wealth, ease, and privilege. HARDLY! We are making a decent salary, but it is not enough to put us into one of those scary tax brackets. Plus, we have the spectre of student loans hanging over us (deferred for now, but that interest is adding up!) to make the idea of *ever* having more-than-enough money seem laughable.

It’s tough, especially because we started out together young. I was just two weeks into my 21st year, and NDD was half-way to 22, when we got married. He was momentarily unemployed, what with the cancer and chemo. I was a public school teacher. That year, when we filed our taxes, we were below the poverty line! The following summer found us moving and setting up house in a new state so that NDD could begin medical school. I was still a public school teacher, and now in a state that paid less than my old job. Can you see a pattern? We never really got ahead. Plus, our area had outrageous housing prices and a horrible cost of living – and we were renting – so we were barely getting by, some months. We literally *needed* student loan funds for living expenses.

We are only a few months into residency. We finally have a savings account – but it’s not yet at that “two months’ salary” level that I always hear recommended for “just in case” emergencies. Or do they advise six months’ salary? Either way – not that much put aside yet. We are renting again, because we are only here for one year before moving on for the next phase of training. There is more money than the last couple of years, but now with NDB there are also a few more expenses.

So, the thing is, I still don’t feel like we’re living the “grownup life.” We aren’t driving very nice cars, our apartment is a reasonable size but not in a fancy neighborhood, the list could go on and on.

But at last months’ Playgroup, we went to the home of a Fellow’s wife (fellows are doctors who have completed their intern year and residency years, and are working on a fellowship that further specializes their training). It was gorgeous – huge – in a ritzy neighborhood – and the car in the driveway was one of those luxury SUVs. I was almost embarrassed to be getting out of my 1997 Saturn with the sagging headliner and discolored bumper. The women at playgroup were all very nice. It’s easy to bond over babies, I guess. Most of them seem to be older than me, by a good 5-10 years. I don’t know their situations – maybe they worked throughout their husbands’ residencies and put themselves in a better financial situation before they had their children. Maybe they have nice inheritances from a family tragedy. It could be anything. But boy, did I start to feel inferior. My parting thought was, I’m never hosting this playgroup, ever!

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