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.