Being a mom to me is the most amazing and rewarding job. I literally and seriously absolutely love it! I want to be one of those moms that makes cute lunches and drives her kids to all their extra curricular activities. One of those moms that does homework everynight with her kids, that baths them, and tucks them in, and reads to them. The reality, however, is that there are some nights where I don’t even sleep at home.
I’m a doctor and I work hectic hours, 30 hour shifts sometimes even more than once a week. The other challegening part is that I literally and seriously absolutely love my job! I have a sense of purpose in what I do. I love making a contribution and I am very ambitious. I want to grow in my career, which means more demanding hours.
When I was younger and the kids were younger I thought I could do it all. I thought that I would be a successful mother and a successful doctor. I thought that I could give 100% to both. Shame my poor husband, I didn’t budget time in for him, but he was very supportive and always encouraged me in my career ambitions.
I started at the bottom and began studying and progressing in my chosen field. I first went into obs and gyne. The hours were hectic and the job was emotionally draining. By the time I got home I was finished and completely drained. I was either eating, sleeping or studying. I was just trying to keep myself together, nevermind being a mother or a wife. After spending a grueling 2 years working towards that specialty I resigned and went into general surgery. This specialty was a door way to plastic surgery. Plastic surgery promised to be lucrutive and less intense and more scheduled, but could take up to 11 years to complete. I spent 1.5 years in the surgical department. I was missing everything in my family life. I was never at family functions and I missed birthdays. I was unhappy because I had time for nothing and spent what little home time I had just recovering.
When I was home and my kids got hurt, they ran to their father. I was really proud of him for how he stepped in when I was so unavailable, but it felt like a slap in the face. I wanted my kids to look for their mom when they got hurt. When I picked them up they would cry for him. The one and only weekend a month that I was home and available, I didn’t even know what they liked for breakfast, I didn’t know how to put them to sleep. I didn't know anything about them. I wanted to have a closer relationship with my kids. I wanted to see all their milestones, big and small. They were growing up and I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would be looking for independence and space. Now was the time when they needed me. The irony of if it was that I needed my job too. I needed the stimulation and fulfillment I got from working and helping people. I also wanted to progress in my career for the finacial benefit so I could provide more for my family.
Then I found out that I was pregnant with number 3 and with that pregnancy I decided that I would slowly change my life. I realised that even though I am a very capable person it was just not possible for me to be so ambitious in my job and be the kind of mom that I wanted to be.
So I sat down and decided what was more important to me. I made a list of my priorites. When I thought about it, my family was significantly more important to me than any job or career or financial goal. Yet I spent 70% of my time and energy on my career and only 30% on my family.
My point with this was not about choosing family. It was more just about choosing. We don’t have to do it all. I think it’s unfair of us to think that we must do it all and work so hard to be so much. I feel like my life has progressively gotten better from the moment I decided to choose and live according to my priorities.
For me the choice was to get a job within my field that still allows me to afford our lifestyle but where I have time to spend with the family. Where I can control my schedule.
It wasn’t a quick process. In fact its been 2 years since I made my choice and I am still working towards it. I had to do research and find a career path in medicine that suited the lifestyle I wanted, then find a new job and streamline some financial responsibilities. It was definitely a process. I also had to make peace with my ambitious ego that pushes me to want to excel at everything. Since I’ve made the choice I am so much happier. I am actually the happiest I have ever been. When my kids are sick, I can let my employer know and be there for my children. I am at every soccer game and every birthday. I still work busy hours but it’s much better than before. I still miss out on doing homework with them some weeks but we are getting there. I feel so blessed that I made a change.
Interestingly enough the change was more about doing what was best for me. Maybe as moms sometimes we have to look after ourselves too. Sometimes we choose to care for everyone and everything except ourselves. We take on so much responsibility. Trying to make an income and pay bills and also be home. I feel like I had unrealistic expectations of myself and I was making myself unhappy by trying to do it all. It was so liberating for me to just say I can’t do it all. It felt so good to choose my happiness. I feel like a weight is off my shoulders. I am so much happier. And a happy mom is a happy family.