Working in a veterinary clinic can be so immersive that you forget the rest of the world. News flash, right? You forget to eat, sleep, forget about your friends and sometimes also about your family. A family that adapts and learns to live with all the ups and downs of your job.
In this case, maybe life is easier when the couple are both working in the veterinary field and are both running the same race. But what happens when one of them makes a living doing something totally different, and how does it affect their children?
What we are about to tell you will probably ring a bell and are some rather amusing examples of different situations that small animal veterinarians and their families experience, have experienced and will surely live through.
Vets and living together
Having a social life during the week is the first difficulty you face as a vet. How many nights out have you cancelled because of an emergency? How many times have you come home so exhausted that the very thought of going out made you feel like you were about to climb Everest? Since your partner is super understanding, they will cope but remember to make it up to them as soon as you can!
Still, even emergencies have their positive side and will have bailed you out of more than one bad situation. Raise your hand if you’ve never used them as an excuse to get out of a totally boring event. 🙂
And then come the conventions. The good thing is that if you are a speaker you get to travel a lot. The price your partner pays? Endless formal dinners where everyone is talking shop and they have to spend time with strangers on bus tours (tip from the senior staff: see if your partner can meet up with a friend in the same city where the congress is being held). And all this in a foreign language, of course!
And don’t forget that 50% or more of your buddies will also be vets. If you want to keep your poor husband or spouse from falling asleep on the sofa, please don’t talk about clinical cases outside working hours!
And here come the kids!
There’s nothing cooler than saying your mum or dad is a vet – classmates immediately assume that your house is a zoo! And this is often true. Everyone will want to come to your house to play with the dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish and all the fauna from Noah’s Ark. So be prepared, because popularity comes at a price: like it or not you’re going to adopt a few neighborhood kids.
Don’t turn down the school’s invitation to give talks on your profession. Statistically, there are only a few vet parents in every school, so you’re guaranteed to get your turn in a class or two, and it will be a great source of pride for your children!
Something that will be very cool too, if you own your own business, is to give your children the opportunity to stay at the clinic on sick days when they can’t go to school. Every vet’s child has this core memory: being able to stand in a corner of the operating theater, putting on a cap and mask just like mum or dad and watching a C-section. Or having the opportunity to interact with an exotic animal… these are things they will never forget.
Now it sounds like Wonderland, but parenting also has its obligations: your children have games to attend, teachers who would love to meet with you (at least once a year) and birthdays to plan. If the kids don’t spend much time with you from Monday to Friday, give 100% of your time on the weekend!
Remember that they are also not immune to uncomfortable situations. Almost all of them have had to answer the dreaded question: Do you want to be a vet too?
Grown-up children with Veterinary parents
Once the school stage is over, with all its successes and failures, your kids will become independent and will fly the nest. If none of them have followed in your steps, get ready: the family chat is going to turn into a veterinary e-help line.
They won’t have studied to become vets, but none of them will be able to live without a dog or cat – or several. So the next questions are going to be the most common:
–Mum/Dad, my friend’s cat is not eating. What do you think might be wrong with her?
– You: ????? Tell your friend to take her to the vet. I can’t diagnose it over the phone!”
Don’t laugh, your children’s friends are convinced that veterinary knowledge is passed down from generation to generation and they’re going to be the first ones they call.
–Mum/Dad, Chloe’s eyes are runny. So what should I put on them?
–When do I start Buzz on dewormer? Will you remember to bring me some this weekend when we meet for lunch? And while we are talking, can you order me a sack of the prescription food?
On any given weekend:
–Mum/Dad, can you book an appointment for me to have the dog spayed?
-You: Do you mind calling me on Monday when I’m at the clinic and have my agenda?
I’m sure there are as many stories as there are vets and families, each one more hilarious than the last. So don’t think your situation is unique…you share it with the rest of the vets in Noah’s Ark.