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Feminism

I’m a doctor, I’m a woman, I’m a mother to a fiercely independent little girl and I want her to know she can do anything she wants.  But I am not a feminist, at least not the way it’s been interpreted recently ( …and cue in the angry comments)

As a fourth year medical student I was the co-president of our school.  Among other things we were asked to give a speech to incoming medical students at their white coat ceremony.  There was about 100 students and their families in the audience so excited for their next steps and proud of their accomplishments thus far. Giving the key note speech was one of our OB/GYN attending physicians.  She said something that quite frankly alarmed me at the time.  In a nutshell, she said that there will be times that they will not be there for their families, for their kids or future kids.  That patients may take precedence over their personal plans. And she also said there will be times that they won’t be able to be there for their patients, that they won’t advance to the next level in their career because of their family, or get the promotion in the academic center.  As I listened to this I felt…deflated.  I thought what an awful message to send to these new and excited medical students about to embark on one of the hardest journeys of their lives. That was then.

As I continued on my path, became a pediatrician, then married and had kids, I realized how true her words had been.  You cannot have it all, all of the time.  Yes, you can have some of it all the time, or some of it some of the time, but… something’s gotta to give!

If I focus solely on my career, then I will need to cover the bases with my family from out sourcing help. If I decide I want to be at every pick up and every drop off, focusing on my career just ain’t happening.  Both scenarios are completely ok.  But there’s been a trend in society that if women can’t do it all, while looking gorgeous in stiletto heals  then there’s something wrong with them.  That they are not trying hard enough? What!?!?!?

My mom was a stay at home mom, she was there for me for EVERYTHING.  But in the eyes of the world, she’s just “a mom”   I’m all for women doing what they want to do but at the end of the day some women just want to be a mom, and that’s okay.  I was so determined and focused when I was younger. I thought I would work 4 days/week and be mom the other 3.  Easy! It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I started resenting all the hours I had to spend away from them.  I was not career focused anymore, I was mom focused.  And I know I’m not the only one.

As our daughters prepare for their future and we talk to them about career options, we should not ignore the most magnificent career of being a mom.  It should not be minimized.  Yes, I think school, education and a career are all important but I wish someone talked to me about the fact that I may want to just be mom and going to school for 11 years and coming out in debt and working 40 hours/week and taking call….may not be the career of choice if I just wanted to be mom.

I am so incredibly fortunate to be able to work part time but I went to school for a lot of years and have a lot of debt to now work part time.  Could there have been other career options I would have entertained if someone sat me down and said, ” Look, something happens to you when you have children.  That hardcore ambition kinda melts away and you just think about your babies ALL THE TIME.  And yes they drive you crazy and yes you will want your time away from them but just think about them in your career choice.” I know that seems like a lot, maybe I wouldn’t have listened and gone to med school anyway but maybe I would have?

In the era of #bossbabes, I  just want to make sure that our daughters know it’s okay to just be mom if that’s what will make them happy.  It’s by far the most important job I have had or ever will have.

Having children just puts the whole world into perspective . Everything else just disappears. -Kate Winslet

 

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The Bonds of Motherhood

 

Recently, I  was able to finally get together with my preschool group of mom friends.  We first met when our kids were between 0-3 and we had an instant bond. We had each other’s backs, we had much needed girls nights AND we had play dates with wine!  These moms were my life line in those crazy, hectic, fly by the seat of our pants years.  They were my people.

The kids grew up (as they tend to do) and we all went our separate ways to different elementary schools,  some even moved to different cities, (which in LA you might as well be moving to a different country).  Our kids made new friends, we made new friends and life kept going.  Our kids got busier, we got busier. We’d get together for birthdays or for lunches here and there but those events became few and further apart.

But there was always that bond, the unbreakable bond of motherhood.  We could not be more different in how we parent our kids.  Some of us may be polar opposites in fact.  I tend to be more laissez-faire, whatever will be will be, knowing that  my kids will survive (that’s the pediatrician in me!)  While one friend will only buy organic everything and make sure the kids are in bed at an appropriate bed time, properly dressed and signed up for all the right classes.  Another friend will not adhere so closely to a schedule and knows her kids will go to sleep…eventually.  Two of my friends moved to different cities so that their kids would be in the best school environment for their needs, putting their own needs and desires aside.  You get where I’m going with this!

While we differ tremendously in our parenting styles, there’s 2 things that keep us together.  Our love for our children and our love for each other. Physically we may be far apart but in our hearts we could not be closer! When we finally met for lunch it was as if no time had passed and we were all talking as we would have 6 or 7 years ago when our bonds started to form.

adult business close up friendship
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

.  These are a group of women that I only want the best for, like sisters, and who only want the best for me.  We don’t always agree and that’s okay because the bonds we made don’t break easily and carry us through the roughest storms.  I know they will be there if I need them, I know they will call me out when they need to and I know the next time we meet it will be as if no time has passed.

  • Do you have mom friends that you count on for support no matter how far they are? What are your best support systems now?  Who’s in your village? (We all need a village!)

 

 

“The great motherhood friendships are the ones in which two women can admit [how difficult mothering is] quietly to each other, over cups of tea at a table sticky with spilled apple juice and littered with markers without tops.”

Anna Quindlen

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Don’t Judge Me…!

I think of myself as pretty non-judgmental.  I listen to my friends with an open mind and an open heart.  I know I don’t do it all perfect (or anywhere close to perfect) and have no expectations of anyone else doing it perfect.  I actually make a conscience effort not to judge.  BUT my subconscious on the other hand, that’s a different story!

I find myself waiting in line at the supermarket judging how people dress, peek into their carts to see what they’re buying.  I judge people when I’m driving and they are speeding, honking, cutting me off (like I’ve never done that…)  I judge people in a split second, literally.  But I’m trying to make those unconscious judgments conscious and stop them.  I know nothing about those people, nothing, and yet I have the gall to judge anything about them.

And knowing someone does not make it any better.  It could be your best friend in the whole world, your kids, your spouse.  You really can’t judge their behavior or their feelings or their actions.  We really don’t know what’s going on in anyone else’s life.  Even the people closest to us sometimes have things that we just don’t know about. Or feel something that they aren’t sharing with us.

My first child completely spoiled me, he literally only cried when he was hungry or tired.  And the first month he cried a bit more because I was starving him (blog about mom guilt in a future post).

Once we added formula he was angelic.  My daughter on the hand was a screamer…naturally. And of course after having Thing 1, Thing 2 had a hard act to follow.  So there were times that I wanted to launch her out of the window. I could picture the whole thing happening in my head.  I just wanted it to stop.  I was exhausted and not running on all cylinders….

But I would never act on it and I knew I would never actually do it.  At one point I even said I could understand child abuse, NOT CONDONE IT, but understand it. (I’m an advocate for the little people, child abuse is NEVER acceptable!)

If reading that last paragraph made you queasy or made you want to report ME for child abuse, I’m telling you now, we can’t be friends.  When I was feeling those feelings I needed my mom friends to say, I hear you, I’m here for you, and what you’re feeling is ok…hopefully while we are drinking a glass of wine.  There are so many things that we all do and don’t do, that we should do and shouldn’t do, that we want to do but can’t do, that we don’t want to do, but can’t stop.  I don’t need a lecture, and I usually don’t even need advice….I just need someone to listen and say; I hear ya sister…we’ve all been there!

So don’t judge me, I know I’m not perfect, not even close.  I know I have things that I can improve on and I’m  working really hard on trying to fix them (I really am) but I don’t need more mom guilt (I have enough).   The concept of judging favorably comes from the original self help book, the Bible.  (And if you’re not religious, that’s ok, because it’s really not about religion, it’s about living our best life!) I have attended a number of lectures on this topic (Lori Palatnik, Adrienne Gold, Sharon Shenker) and one of my favorite quotes is; “You are meeting this person in chapter 3, you don’t know what happened in chapters 1 and 2.” We can’t judge anyone if we are not walking in their shoes. And although you may know everything that’s happened with your kids or spouse, you don’t know their feelings, their interpretation of each situation and therefor you can’t judge their response.

If you need to vent about your kids driving you crazy, dreaming about running away to tropical Island, need to let off some steam about a fight you had with your spouse, even if you want to launch your baby out of a window…. come over, have a glass of wine and tell me about it…I won’t judge!

  • Do you feel like you get judged by others? In what circumstances?  Do you (consciously or unconsciously) judge? (No need to answer that, just something we all need to think about!)

Everyone has untold stories of pain and sadness that make them love and live a little differently than you do. Stop judging, instead try to understand. -Anonymous