Glittering Sun, Family Love and the End of Exams!

As I type this, the setting sun is gleaming off the ice and snow that covers the grass in our backyard. I love to write at our dining table because of the beautiful view that I get to experience. My daughter is sitting to my right, testing out a box of markers to make sure each pen is still working well and up to her standards. Every so often, she proudly points to her artwork which at this point mostly consists of multi-colored doodles.

This week was an intense exam week consisting of Anatomy lab exam, Digestion/ Metabolism Final exam and the Reflective exam (which covers clinical material since the beginning of medical school). I found this block to be one of the most intense so far. Despite the challenging exams, the week ended on a great note with a fun patient simulation activity and then dinner with the Dean of Medicine. I was really impressed that the Faculty made time to meet with us in groups over the past few months and that the Dean talked to each of us individually to find out more about us. When asked what he considers to be the features of a good doctor, his words stuck with me….”listen, be kind and be humble”.

Now that this set of exams are over and we are on Spring break, I got to spend a beautiful simple day with my daughter. We did silly things like dancing around the dining room to her favorite music. I love how she would look at me with her big brown eyes and giggle as she tried to copy my dance moves. My son spent the week with his grandmother in the Laurentians since his school was on Spring break and I was having exams. It was the first time he has ever been away from us overnight and it went very well. He had a blast with his granny. I really missed him though and look forward to seeing him  when we drive up to the Laurentians for the weekend.

Today, I had the chance to reflect on the wonderful blessings in my life, especially my husband and children. My husband came home early from work today and surprised me with beautiful flowers. A few weeks ago my son presented me with some of his artwork depicting our family and it really moved my heart to see his perception of us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, we can forget how much we as parents mean to our children and how important we are to them. I love being a mother and wife, and despite the demands of medical school, I am so happy to be learning so much and that I have been given the incredible opportunity to do this. I look forward to the next block after the Spring break!

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Beautiful surprise flowers from hubby!
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My 5 year old’s drawing of our family (including our black dog!)

 

All Aboard the Winter Express

This evening, after my husband arrived home from work, he found the kids and I on our way out, ready to get to work on a snowman after it had snowed all day. It’s interesting how my affection for winter has steadily grown ever since we had our children. Their sheer delight at frolicking in snowdrifts has gotten me out of my winter hibernation mode and much more willing to be outdoors during the cold season.

This evening was simply beautiful. It turns out that the snow was not quite the right consistency to make a snowman (according to my husband anyway. I, the African girl, would not know the difference!). We still made the most of our time outside. I attempted to walk through knee deep snow around our backyard tugging my children behind me on a sled. “All aboard!” I would shout every time I was ready to take off on another tour around our house, as the kids scrambled to get on to the sled. It’s days like this that I am especially grateful for where we live. Our home has seen so many special memories.

As my son and husband began rolling around in the snow, my daughter perched herself on a snow-mound at a safe distance observing with keen interest the scene unfolding before her. I noticed the empty sled discarded on the snowbank and spontaneously decided to lay down on it with my face upwards to the sky. The snow was still gently falling. It felt fresh as it tickled my cheeks. I looked over towards my husband and joked, “Look, I’m ‘snow-bathing'” before I closed my eyes, listening to my children’s giggles float through the winter air.

 

A Reason To Smile

Yesterday, after a particularly busy day, I embarked on my long drive home. One of my favorite parts of the trip is the moment when I cross one of the bridges connecting the island of Montreal with the mainland. I always take a sneak peek to my right where I can see luscious green rolling hills, wavy water and specks of white sails belonging to the numerous boats making their way leisurely through the water.

It is at that moment that I take a deep breath and smile as I anticipate seeing the smiling faces of my children waiting for me at home. Often, my husband and kids will call me on my drive home simply to say that they are looking forward to seeing me soon and that they love me. Those moments always give me extra strength and remind me of how much I have to be grateful for.

When mummy pulls into the driveway, after a busy day at medical school, I see excited young faces at the window, I hear the door bursting open and two little beings yelling with joy as they run into my arms shouting “Mummy you’re home”.

My mind flashes back to when I was five years old, and I used to rush into my late father’s arms when he would come home from a long work day at the hospital. I remember him swirling me around and around, him biting back his fatigue so he could spend some special moments with me.

Thirty years later, I am in a similar position with my children and I absolutely love the fact that I get to come home to them and that their excitement and joy remind me of how much I am loved and appreciated.

My husband and children give me a reason to smile everyday!

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Reflections on Family and Medical School

There are less than 3 weeks to go until the start of medical school! The countdown is on and we are so excited as a family. I have been spending as much time as possible with the kids before school starts and I am treasuring the simple yet special moments I have with them, like a visit to the zoo, the beach or making chocolate chip cookies together. Or simply having them envelop me in a hug and say, “Mummy, we love you…and we’ll always love you.”

I am so grateful to have had almost 3 uninterrupted years at home with my two children. It has been a gift and a refreshing break from my research work in the pharmaceutical industry. When my husband and I revisited the idea of me going back to school to pursue medicine, I had pangs of guilt about being away from the children. I wondered if they would understand why mummy is away for such long hours at school or the hospital. I know the guilt is something I may struggle with throughout my training and career. But I also know that the kids are very much loved and my husband and I have a game plan to maximize quality time with them. I hope that we can be a good example for them.

To my beautiful children, I have witnessed your first steps, your first words, your first falls, your first tears and your first laughs (and yes, changing more diapers than I ever thought were possible!). You have shown me a new side of myself and given me the gift of allowing me to nurture you.

Although the next few months will be a transition phase, I feel at peace that we are heading in the right direction as a family. Today, I was excited by the simple act of buying stationery for both myself starting medical school and my son starting kindergarten (my husband laughed at me enthusiastically showing him my stash from the dollar store: highlighters, stickies, pens, to name a few!).

I am also happy to announce that my very independent daughter decided to potty train herself in the month of June. I had been really hoping to get it done before the start of med school and was aiming to start potty training in July. She beat us to it telling us proudly, “I don’t want diapers any more mummy, I’m a big girl!”…….Well alright then! You go girl!

My husband and I have also been having some interesting discussions about what medical specialty to go into. I have been talking to several doctors in different fields and reading up as much as I can. So far, my interests are quite diverse: family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery and pathology. I am going to remain open-minded throughout my learning and enjoy the process. I know there will be many challenges ahead but I am absolutely thrilled to be finally doing this after so many years of planning!

Thank you for staying with me on this journey! I am excited to share it with you!

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Her first visit to the Ecomuseum
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Relaxing on the beach
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Brother-sister love!
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Getting ready to bake some delicious  cookies!

 

The Privilege of Being a Mother

Today I feel amazingly privileged to be a mother. To see my children laugh and smile, to feel the soft touch of their hands on my cheeks, to feel their tight hugs and sloppy kisses, to witness their abundant curiosity, to watch them grow, learn how to swim or ride a bicycle, to see their independence, to be the one who comforts them when they cry or are hurting. To hear them say over and over again, “mummy, I want you” and “mummy, I love you forever and always”.

Motherhood is one of the most difficult endeavors I have embarked on. There have been many moments of tears and self-doubt, wondering how I can bear the responsibility of raising and guiding two very unique human beings. Yet, there have been so many moments of joy, happiness, gratitude, amazement, and an overwhelming love in our household that I hold simply as a miracle of life.

To my dear children and to my ever supportive, loving husband, you are precious gifts to me and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

Mummy loves you “forever and always”.

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My dearest children
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I love being a mummy!

The Funny Things Kids Say

Caleb: “Mummy, did you buy daddy at the store?”

Mummy: “Nope, and we can’t return him to the store either!”

I love how kids think. They are so curious and genuine, not afraid of how people are going to react to their questions or comments. My children teach me so much every day. From their enthusiastic attempts to learn a language to trying to understand the world around them. I am reminded that it is good to sometimes slow down our busy world and look at life through simple eyes, just like a child.

Have a beautiful day!

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Caleb and Naomi, our dearest children.

Family Celebrations…and Summer Planning for Medical School!

Last week was a beautiful week in many ways. After finding out about my medical school acceptance, I spent a wonderful day on Wednesday with my son Caleb secretly making banana and chocolate-chip muffins and designing birthday cards for my husband whose birthday was on Thursday.

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My trusty assistant helping me to make muffins for daddy’s birthday

 

My husband and I also celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on his birthday (yes, we got married on his birthday and now he can never forget the date of our anniversary!). Thirteen years ago, he asked me to be his girlfriend in my native Swahili language after requesting the translation from the Kenya High Commission (embassy) in Ottawa. It was such a beautiful surprise and we have experienced so many adventures together along the way. Despite the challenges of marriage and parenting, my husband has helped me grow in so many ways and I feel so blessed to be married to such a wonderful person who respects me and loves me unconditionally.

We spent our anniversary by going out for brunch at our favorite restaurant and then out to see the new Captain America movie at the cinema. It was fun! We also brainstormed the logistics of the next few months in preparation for medical school. I just love how enthusiastic my husband is about embarking on this new journey with me!

On Friday, we attended orientation at Caleb’s new school. Yes, that’s right! My little man is starting Kindergarten one week after I start medical school in August! He is so excited about starting school! We were very impressed with his school and how passionate the teachers and principal are. We know he will be in good hands. He will learn primarily in French from Kindergarten to Grade 4 and then switch to 50% English/50% French. He is already bilingual and I’m so happy that he will have the opportunity to improve on his grasp of the French and English languages.

All through last week, I received supportive messages from friends and family and also from some of my future classmates who sound so enthusiastic about this new journey. I look forward to meeting them in person!

This is on my to-do list in preparation for medical school:

  • Take Basic Life Support class (CPR and AED): scheduled for early June
  • Update immunizations: scheduled for mid-June
  • Financing my medical education: meet with the bank, apply for government financial aid and scholarships.
  • Look for a second-hand car to commute 5o minutes downtown: we decided that public transport would take too much time since I would need to take 2 buses and a train to get to school. I want to be very efficient so that I can maximize time for the family.
  • Parking permit: Fortunately, I am eligible to park in the building where most of my classes will be because of how far I live from the university and because I have young children. My parking permit is reserved. I just have to pick it up and pay for it in mid-August.

I am so grateful that I get to have a full summer with my family before beginning medical school. I know our lives are about to change drastically. I know the road will be long and challenging. But I am really looking forward to the fascinating things I will learn and also to the forging of wonderful new friendships.