The Sweetest Reward: Life as a Father in Medical School
In 2014, a phone call changed my life.
My girlfriend was on the other end of the call. She told me we were going to have a child. At that very moment I thought my life was over. Before having my own, I hadn’t ever really been interested in children; I thought they would stop me from being able to do all of the things that I wanted to do with my life. Boy oh boy, I was wrong.
I’m in a rather unique situation. At just 25 years old I have two children that are currently living in Vancouver, Washington with their mom during the week. We’ve been able to work things out so that I am able to have them every weekend, but as you might be able to imagine, it requires a lot of driving. When school began in August I drove from Yakima to either The Dalles in Oregon or all the way to Vancouver in order to get my children, turn around and head home. Although I was frequently worn out by the travel, I would do whatever it took to spend time with my children.
They are my motivation; my heart and my soul. Without them I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. My children, and all of my experiences with them, are what will turn me into a great physician one day.
I’ve learned to have patience, and realized the importance of remaining calm when entering into a potential disagreement. I’ve learned that arguing with my 4-year-old daughter Berkeley over her desire to wear her princess dress for the third day in a row is a battle that I am going to lose every single time.
I’ve learned to enjoy the little things in life; to stop and smell the roses. My 2-year-old Fletcher helped to instill that in me when he insisted on picking every single flower from a patch at our local park.
Most importantly, I’ve learned how to love. The love for my children is the most undeniable, greatest force that I have ever felt, and I know that this love will never fade.
I could use this opportunity to paint a picture of paradise; I could try my best to describe that love, and leave you all with a sense that parenting is easy. I won’t do that.
Being a parent is hard.
It’s hard to say goodbye each weekend, knowing that I won’t get to wake up and see my babies first thing in the morning. It’s hard not getting to tuck them in for bed each night. It’s hard when I Facetime them on a Tuesday afternoon and Berkeley asks when I’ll be picking her up that day, and I have to tell her I can’t see her for three more days.
It’s just hard.
But everything I am going through, and everything that I’ll continue to go through, is making me into a better physician. These life experiences are providing me with tools that will one day enable me to relate with my patients on a different level than others. There is value in this struggle.
I’m setting myself up for a fulfilling career. I’m gaining life experiences and perspectives that I will be able to use with my future patients.
I am showing my children that they can do literally anything they set their minds too; that if they work hard and have love in their hearts, anything is possible.
This time in my life will be hard, but the sweetest reward is awaiting us all on the other side.
Christopher T. Walker
Osteopathic Medical Student - 2nd Year (OMS II)
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences