Mommy’s Approval Rating

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A patient’s mother stood at the front desk at my office and said, “She has two kids AND she’s a doctor.  I don’t know how she does it!”  Compliments in general make me blush, but this particular one embarrasses me because it implies that I do “it” well.  I’m not sure what she meant by “it” because I probably don’t wear as many hats as she imagines.  While I think (and hope) that I am doing my job well, I am not sure I am always as successful at home.  No one has polled my husband, children, family, or friends and calculated my approval rating.  At any given time, I know I am failing in at least one of these categories.  On a good day, I’m failing in only one.

The compliment from my patient’s mother though made me wonder: what’s my approval rating of myself?  While she apparently thought I was juggling all the working mom tasks well, how would I assess my own performance?  Well, the day I forgot my breast pump at home and had to sacrifice my lunch break for a $20 taxi ride I would have given myself a D.  Another day I managed to work from home, attend mommy-baby yoga, take my kids to the playground, and cook dinner, I gave myself an A- (points off for making boxed mac and cheese).  If I can go to work, spend quality time with my kids, and accomplish one household chore, I’m doing pretty well.  However, when I see the pile of laundry in my room, the dishes in the sink, and the emptiness of my refrigerator, I am reminded of all the things I am failing at.  And there are always other moms around me excelling in these areas to remind me of my weaknesses.  If I’m feeling particularly critical of myself, I need to avoid Pinterest altogether, as this seems to be the place for moms to showcase their best mom achievements.

While feminism taught me that I can “have it all,” and sometimes I feel as if I do, it also creates guilt that I should be able to do it all, and all the time.  So while I can be a mother and doctor, raising two kids and working full-time, I can’t be everywhere and do everything needed for these roles simultaneously.  I find the domestic responsibilities the most challenging, as they have never been my forte, and a bigger family and busier job did not help.  So, I survive by outsourcing some of these and neglecting the rest.  My home is lived in, not ready for an HGTV photo shoot.  Because whenever given the choice, as I am almost every day, of playing trucks with N and smooching G or cleaning my kitchen, the kids win every time.  My job keeps me away from my kids enough, so I have to make the most of the waking hours I have with them each evening.  And if I’m going to grade myself on living in the moment and loving my kids, I am definitely on the Honor Roll.

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