Being Doctor Mom

Motherhood is Hard

No matter what the circumstances – being a stay at home mom or a working mom. Much has been debated as to which approach is best for the kids, which is more challenging. To me, the days when I am off from work and enact upon the role of a stay at home mom – within a few hours, I find myself wanting to go back to work. On the other hand, most days when I am at work, I find myself wanting to be with my kids and questioning whether being a full time physician is really the best for my children’s upbringing. I often peruse their many videos on my smart phone during a spare moment at work, as if I hadn’t seen them in so long. Basically, it feels like there is no happy medium.

Dr. Mom

But being a physician mom adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult scenario. I am a full time practicing oncologist, caring for some of the sickest patients with complex malignancies. Some are young – far too young to be facing cancer. Others are older yet when faced with the end of life, their age is often inconsequential. It is no doubt a struggle to be a good physician and a good mom at the same time. When questioned with what comes first, the obvious answer is of course my children, but in reality this is often not the case.

Finding Balance

There are many Saturdays I spend at the hospital, where I could be at the park, pool, ice cream shop, dance recital with my kids. There are days when my kids are sick – but I physically cannot be with them. I am often struggling to make it to places on time, counting down the minutes to when daycare will close, or and event will start. Mornings are probably the roughest – a frenzy of trying to get 2 toddlers up, washed, fed and out the door whilst maintain my appearance of a doctor. In fact, I’ve often reached work and realized I’ve got peanut butter stuck to my hair and a smashed banana on my pants.

On The Clock

Self care is typically at a minimum – years of medical training has also taught me that I often come last. I don’t necessarily agree with this – but it is inevitable. Indeed this is one of the factors that contribute to physician burnout (among other things) – but that is a lengthy topic for another discussion. And work doesn’t end at 5 pm, we are never really “off the clock.” I remember answering calls regarding my patients while at the beach on vacation a few years ago. I logged on the electronic medical records almost on a daily basis while I was out on maternity leave.

The Best Choice

Yes, everything in life is a choice, and I made this choice having no regrets. It is a privilege to be a doctor, even more to be able to care for patients with cancer – a disease that is so incredibly dear to my heart. I hope that I am setting a good example for my kids. But it is tough – having two jobs, both that are demanding. The job doesn’t get easier when I walk in the door at the end of a workday, often it is harder. Nonetheless I try. I attempt to harmonize the cacophony of life, balancing my two jobs.


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