Being a doctor mom is no easy feat. There is much to juggle, and it can be tough to find any sort of true work-life balance. There are many struggles that come with this role, but there are many more joys to being a mother in medicine.
As a pediatrician and lactation consultant with five children, I am very familiar with how it feels to be a busy doctor mom. I have added to our family at every stage of my training – from college on up. And although it is a lot to balance, I would not change my experiences for the world. Our children and my patients have poured into me and continue to shape me into a better person every day. I have learned so much about myself along the way.
Here are a few of the many joys I have found in being a doctor mom.
Learning to Balance
As a working mom, I have no choice but to learn to balance my time. Our children have forced me to prioritize, organize, and set up routines that truly work. I would otherwise be drowning in my to-do list and the things needing to get done with no true sense of direction. I am thankful to our children for keeping me on my toes and making me productive.
Learning to Be Flexible
Before we had children, I took pride in always keeping a clean space, being on time for events, and having it “all together.” When our children came along, they had a way of teaching me many life lessons. Along with balance, our children taught me to be flexible. There have been last-minute feedings and diaper changes while I am running out the door for work. Plans have changed because of illnesses. We have had to make drastic changes during vacations. Yet as a doctor mom, I learned to go with the flow and to let go of my “Type A” mode of thinking. This was the only way to enjoy all that came with my many roles.
Although I would love to spend more time with our children on a regular basis, I find joy in the fact that each of us has our own independent lives. Our children go to daycare and school each day while I go to work. They have family, friends, and teachers who pour into them on a regular basis. I have coworkers and friends I can lean on. And when we come back together each evening, we are able to tell stories about our experiences that day and things we learned. The time we reunite is that much sweeter because we have been apart for a period of time.
Pursuing My Goals
Our children are the center of my life and I do so much for them regularly to be sure they have what they need to succeed. But while I pour into them, I find joy in the fact that I am also able to pursue my own goals as a doctor mom. I have not had to delay my accomplishments in spite of our children. I am actually encouraged to continue to push towards my goals because of them.
Taking Care of Our Children
As a pediatrician, I am lucky enough to understand normal child development, illnesses, and injuries. Because of this, I feel better equipped to take care of our children and can avoid running to the doctor’s office with every concern that comes up. Of course, knowing too much as a doctor mom can add unwarranted worry and anxiety – which can be a curse in itself. Because of this, I leave major illnesses to their primary provider and try to keep my emotions out of it. Still, it’s comforting knowing I can use my training to help keep our children well, physically and emotionally.
I am blessed in my role as a pediatrician to be able to impact families and children when they need me the most. The same can be said of all of us as doctor moms. I find joy in taking care of my patients. I also find joy knowing I am impacting our own children by setting an example of hard work and truly caring for others. Demonstrating to our three daughters they can thrive as working moms in the future is also very important to me.
Being a mother in medicine is not always easy, but it is worth it. In the midst of all the struggles, there is much joy to be found. When you are having a particularly rough day as a doctor mom, I encourage you to make a list of all the aspects of your role that bring you joy and focus on them to help get you through. Start your list with the things I mentioned above and expand it, setting gentle reminders to yourself to keep you going every day.
Feeling overwhelmed as a doctor mom? Check out this article about preventing burnout when balancing your many roles.
Petra McEwan, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, is a practicing pediatrician and Lactation Consultant in South Florida, where she lives with her husband and five kids. She is also a Women in White Coats Fellow. On her website, https://www.wifeymommydoc.com, she helps working wives and moms balance their many roles. She can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @wifeymommydoc.
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