Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working Mom

As of today, I have been back at work for about a month. I use the term “back at work” loosely because I have only been in the office one full day per week, with plans to add another day in August. My son is almost three months old. As the day of my return approached, I was worried about so many things. Would I feel incredibly guilty for leaving my newborn too early, even if it was just for one day? Would I be too tired to work during the day since the quality of my sleep is not what it used to be? I felt like I was going to have to make the hard choice of choosing my son over my career or vice versa.

I was reading a comment on an anesthesiologist’s blog. She is a mother of three and is working part time. The post was about making the decision to work part time or not work at all, even though she has years of medical training under her belt and is extremely overqualified for days of cycling through the general playing, feeding, and diapering routine. The commenter, a physician herself, explained that at work, anyone could do her job. Another doctor can see her patient, and she would be just fine with that. At home, SHE was the only one that could be a mother to her child. I understand this, but I don’t believe that anyone can do my job.

As dentists, we see most of our patients more often and for longer durations than most doctors. Every dentist does things differently, and most feel like their way is the best for their patients. We develop these relationships and we feel a responsibility for our work and to our patients. I have not been practicing for decades, but at this point, a decent amount of my work is walking around. What if something happens and a patient needs me? I am sure those of you that have your own practices can agree. This is why I tried to return to work as soon as possible, even if it was for a small amount of time. I want to available to my patients.

I am still working on finding permanent childcare. I have been fortunate enough to live close to family, and that has been extremely helpful so far. This is when I become envious of my male colleagues that have wives who choose to become stay-at-home moms. When they have a baby, they can go back to their office and not think twice about the type of care that baby is getting, because he is with his mother, the best possible caregiver. It is easier for them to stay late in the office, or leave town for conferences and CE courses because they have that peace of mind. I anticipate it getting easier as he gets older, but returning to my pre-baby work/travel schedule is going to take time.

Overall, being back at work has been great. I realized just how much I love my job and I appreciate it more now. I look forward to my weekly day at work and my days at home with my son, and feel fortunate to be able to do both. I know that in the future, I can make my schedule flexible to accommodate my child’s needs. Dentistry is a career that really does give working moms the option to “have it all,” though it does take a bit of a balancing act. On my first day back, one of my patients asked me if I still remembered what teeth were. I did not say this to him, but part of me was a little worried my hand skills needed a bit of a refresher. Luckily for myself (and the patient!), the muscle memory kicked in and it was like I had never left.

Are any of you currently, or were you at some point, working dentist moms and dads with small children? How did you handle it?

Have a great week!

Lilya Horowitz, DDS


MAC said...

If you feel like this is hard, it is because it is hard. You are working 7 days a week and getting paid for one of them. Your son, your motherhood is all worth it. Motherhood will make you a better, all be it tired-er Dentist. Being a dentist will help you to be a great Mom.
What is most important and least considered is your personal physical and mental health. Prioritize whatever you need to make that happen.
" If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

Mary Alice Connor Taylor DMD

Anonymous said...

Lilya,I had the same problem (feeling guilty) when I start work leaving my 3 months old daughter at home with my mother-in-law.
This made me read psychological articles and books about how child at this age feels when his/her mom is not with him/her.
I found information if mother is more than 20 hours in a week not with baby, he/she start to be confused who is his/her mom, in addition, amount of hours with baby up to 2 years after birth influences on the bonding between mom and child. Taking into account all of these I desperately started to look for the solution what to do because I had to work due to financial problems. One thing, what I found, was recommendation to be all your free of job time only with baby to compensate the lack of attention, love etc., to reinforce the bond. So, after work I was not shopping, washing, cleaning, cooking, watching TV ( you can continue the list :)), I was feeding, caring, playing only with my daughter.
She is now 9 years old, we have the best relationship. I think we need to remember if we go to work it is not because of work, but because we want the best for our children, for our life. at this time, when my daughter was a baby, I always think why my baby needs to suffer when I am at work, at time when I am the entire world for her.
I think women's first destiny is to be a mom.


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