Finding working mom friends has been crucial to my success as one myself. I met one in particular before we were both moms, but one of our first conversations was about becoming moms. We had just started our pediatric residency and as our careers intensified, we took time over tea to dream about our future families. Hers started before mine, so she has been my road map for this journey.
Without my own children, it was hard for me to understand how difficult being a working mom was, but once I had my own I was amazed at how gracefully she had made the transition. My own entry into motherhood was more messy. It started when my water broke while 34 weeks pregnant, at 2:30 AM, while my husband was out-of-town. So, I called this friend and in the middle of my sobbing I said, “I need to go to the hospital,” to which she replied, “I’ll be right there.” She didn’t hesitate and didn’t even know why we were going to the hospital until she arrived at my door and I said, “I’m having a baby.” She was with me until her shift at the hospital started that morning, and has really been with me ever since.
Every working mom needs someone to help guide them through this crazy adventure. A few months after returning to work from my first maternity leave, I formed a group at our hospital for residents, fellows, and attendings who were “new” moms. While the irony was that most of us were too busy to make it to actual meetings, it was still quite popular among its members. It seemed that one thing was universal: we all struggle and we need to talk about it. Some days it is with our careers, other days with our families, and usually with ourselves. Hearing that you aren’t alone helps. Recently, one of my college friends joined the working mom ranks and feeling a need for a physician working mom community, started a private Facebook group for this purpose. What initially started out as a handful of her working mom friends exploded into a group of a hundred moms within a few days. Again, working moms were eager to share their struggles with others experiencing the same. My Facebook feed filled with discussions of sleep training while working, sick days, maternity leave, and gender roles in our marriages. Together, we try to make this journey less challenging for each other by sharing our workarounds, shortcuts, and shorthand.
One of the best features of my current work environment is the number of colleagues who are moms. Having other moms around helps to normalize my anxieties as a working mom (“oh you went through this too?”) and support my work-life integration (“of course you need to be at that school event!”). After all the mentoring my friends have provided me, it is now time for me to pay-it-forward and I am enjoying all the new moms around me and hope that I offer them the same comfort that was given to me.
Dedicated to my first working physician mommy friend… Happy Birthday, TW. You are a role model to all who know you and I am thankful to have you in my life, whether near or far.