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Faces of Womanhood

We have a photo wall in my house of black and white pictures from different important stages of our lives.  I love the pictures, I love how the wall looks, and I stare at it often.  It’s on a wall between our 3 bedrooms and the laundry room, so let’s just say…I pass by it…a lot! Sometimes I take a moment to really look at it, not just fly by, and I usually just look at the kids but the other day I stared at my face in each picture.  No idea what prompted me to do that, I hate looking at myself in general let alone analyzing a photo of myself but each face told a story and this is how it went.

My Wedding Day:
I was ecstatic!!!!! It was hands down the best day of my life.  It started with the usual stresses, but the wedding was immensely fun!  The picture is of me with my husband during our first dance.  I’m beaming with a smile ear to ear…I’m truly happy.  We had no time to choreograph our dance, we were barely in the same city, let alone the same room before we got married.  But I didn’t care how lame we looked just holding each other and swaying like teenagers.  I was married to the love of my life and I was the happiest girl in the world!!!!  Plus I felt like a princess in that wedding gown!

The Birth of Thing 1:
It was exactly 7 days after he was born, his Bris (a religious circumcision ceremony).  Probably the most stressful event for a new mom.  In the picture, my husband and I were holding him and kissing the top of his head.  I look terrified! A complete look of self doubt and uncertainty. Am I holding him too tight, too loose, is he okay, will he be okay, what happens if he cries, what happens if he doesn’t cry, is he too hot, too cold?  I literally was worried about everything and felt responsible for every single emotion he may be having.  And I was certain I was going to mess it all up!

The Birth of Thing 2:
The pictures were taken 2 weeks after she was born, Thing 1 was 2.5 years old. My husband and I had a house, a mortgage and 2 kids and I felt like a real grown up.  We could actually afford a fancy studio photographer, and fancy birth announcements.  I now had 2 little people counting on me… and I was… exhausted.  In this particular picture of the 4 of us, I looked impatient.  I looked like I had a fake smile and I remember thinking, please everyone just look at the freakin camera…just one decent picture.  Hoping my naked baby does not poop on me. Hoping Thing 1 doesn’t tantrum and refuse to be in a picture, hoping we can get the perfect birth announcement…..Thinking:  Just keep it together people….!

So then I thought what would my current self tell my past self:
On My Wedding Day:
Remember this day and this feeling forever!  The love you have will literally carry you through some dark times.  You will be challenged, beyond the point you think you can endure and you will doubt yourself… a lot. Some days will feel like it’s too hard to keep going.  You will walk through fire, sometimes alone, sometimes with your husband by your side, sometimes him holding you and sometimes you holding him.  But you will come out the other side holding each other and completely in love! You are stronger than you think.

The Birth of Thing 1:
You have so many doubts, everything in you is unsure and worried. That’s okay, your son doesn’t see any of that.  He doesn’t care if you nurse him or give him the bottle. He knows you love him with all your heart and loves you right back.  You’re his rock, the one he comes to when things go wrong and you figure sh*t out and tell him it will be okay.  And he believes you ’cause you’re mom.  You got this, and…You are stronger than you think.

The Birth of Thing 2:
The next couple of years will be tough.  You will feel like you will never have your sh*t together… again…like ever! Your kids will get hurt and you will feel like the worst mom ever.  Sh*t gets real.  But things get better, they always get better.  You walk through fire again…and again…and again, but you get through it, stronger everytime.  You will meet many guardian angels throughout the way. In many different forms, just be open to it, to all of it. Life is messy and unpredictable and so hard for your controlling personality but you gotta let it go girl!  Just let it go and enjoy these fleeting moments.  They don’t last.  Be present and don’t worry about the perfect picture, the memory behind the picture is so much better….Oh…and you’re stronger then you think.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think- Winnie the Pooh

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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