Yes, I do have it “all”, and how you can, too.

 

Two very successful and very powerful women, Shonda Rhimes (creator of the television shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) and Indra K. Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo) have recently been in the news for announcing that you can’t “have it all”.

Honestly, the phrase having it all is becoming as nauseating as being here for the right reasons on the Bachelorette. It really should become the new drinking game for women in their 30’s. Another CEO comes out of that hideous self-and-society-imposed guilt closet and announces you can’t have it all? Take a shot…

My first response to these famous women was, “duh.” But then I really started thinking about it. When was the last time you heard a commencement speech at an Ivy League school given by a man at the top of his profession that centered around not having it “all”? Let me save you the Google search, it hasn’t happened.

The phrase and concept of “having it all” is a strictly female phenomenon. We do it to ourselves, and we do it to each other. I always felt slightly insulted when a female medical student would tell me that she would never choose surgery as a profession because she wanted “a life”. I know they didn’t mean it personally, but it implies to me they believe I don’t have a life. I then started asking them, how do you define “a life”? Because I’m pretty sure most people have different definitions, based upon their personal goals, personalities, and hobbies.  For example, one of my friends enjoys running 20 miles a week and this is fulfilling to her. On the other hand, if another one of my friends even looks a treadmill she gets nauseated.  One friend gladly left her office career to stay at home upon the birth of her second child.  Another friend is just as gladly returning to work full time after her 3 month maternity leave.  This then leads me to the title of this piece.

What is “all”? Who is responsible for simultaneously defining this and holding us up to this unicorn of a standard? Is Shonda Rhimes’ or Gwyneth Paltrow’s “all” the same as mine? Or the same as a single 30 year old woman? Or the stay at home mother of 3?  I would bet my paycheck that the answer to that is no.

The phrase “having it all” implies to me having a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life. The reason that I am proud to say that I do have it “all” is because I choose the definition for myself.  My roles as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and physician lead to my sense of fulfillment. The time that I allot to each role in my life changes daily and sometimes drastically so, but the roles are always there. When I am at the hospital, I am still a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. My husband and child don’t disappear when I go out for a girls’ night.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how missing an occasional bath and story time at my home means I am “failing” as a mother.  This isn’t failing, people, get a grip!  This is life.  Things happen.  Workouts get skipped, dinner occasionally gets picked up in a drive through, and sometimes you just have to wear bikini bottoms as underwear because you are behind on laundry.

The people in my life, and the joy these relationships and my work as a surgeon provide are my “all”. I refuse to let Pinterest, Shonda Rhimes, or anyone but me set the definition for what my life is supposed to look and feel like. I encourage you all to do the same. Whatever floats your boat is fine, it is your boat to float.  Say goodbye to someone making you feel guilty (including yourself!) for not being able to squeeze 26 hours out of a day. Let’s stop saying we don’t have it “all” because we didn’t bake a dozen cupcakes, do 3 loads of laundry and accomplish another 1,000 tasks before breakfast. So, f&*! the unicorn that doesn’t exist, and embrace the awesome, amazing, thoroughbred horse that you are.

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Top 8 reasons you should marry a female physician

A couple of years ago, I asked a friend of mine how she met her husband.  It was at a bar, and when she asked his occupation he replied, “I work for the city.”  She took that to mean he was a construction worker.  They began dating and quickly fell in love.  Much to her surprise about a month into their relationship, she learned he actually played for the NFL team in their city.

Two nights ago, I had the pleasure of having dinner with two very pretty surgical residents.  As they are both single, the conversation quickly turned towards the “single life” here in our city.  One began to tell me she uses dental hygienist as her go-to occupation when meeting men, while the other uses flight attendant.  I have to admit, the flight attendant bit is pretty genius – it actually explains our crazy schedules pretty well!

But as I thought about this more and more, I realized that I hadn’t been surprised that they come up with alternative careers for themselves when they meet men for the first time.  I wasn’t surprised, because I too, operate under the assumption that although NFL players might want to hide their occupation because of too much interest, we female physicians hide ours because of lack of interest.

But it isn’t just me that thinks male and female physicians are viewed very differently on the dating scene.  Think about it.  On Grey’s Anatomy, you had Dr. McDreamy and then came Dr. McSteamy.  But where was all the fanfare for the Dr. McFoxy or Dr. McHotties on the show?

So, in an effort to enlighten the public, I am going to list my top 8 reasons for why anyone and everyone should date or marry a female physician (and yes, this includes surgeons!).  For all my Dr. McHotties out there, this is for you!! Embed from Getty Images

1.  We know CPR.

Someone once gave me the advice to marry the person you want to be in the trenches with.  In other words, when the s&%^ is hitting the fan, who do you want next to you, being your partner, and getting you through the hard times?  So, why not be with someone who knows how to save your life, literally?

2.  We understand hard work.

Whether it is gaining admittance into medical school, suffering through Histology, placing into a residency, or working for 30 hours straight without sleep, we know what hard work looks like, because we have done it.  Marriage, at times, can require a lot of work, and trust me, you want a partner who will work as hard as you in ensuring each other’s happiness.

3.  We handle stress well and multi-task like pros.

Your in-laws have stayed too long, the baby is screaming, the cable is out, the game is on, and who knows what your firstborn is doing, wait, why is there water coming from underneath the bathroom door?  Well, the saying in my house is, “At least no one is bleeding”.  And then, if someone is bleeding, expect to hear, “No worries, all bleeding stops.”  Because it really is true, all bleeding does stop, and we understand this.  Stopping a bathroom flood in comparison to stopping a bleeding subclavian artery or delivering a baby with an umbilical cord around its neck?  Cake walk.

4.  We are financially viable.

You may make more money than us, we may make more than you.  Guess what?  We don’t care.  You should appreciate that we can help our family and will always have a job.  Life is unpredictable.  If you lose your job or become disabled or want to go back to school, you won’t have to worry about how your family will eat or be clothed.  Think outside the box, guys, it is your family’s income and stability that matters, and we will always be able to help.

5.  We are smart.

Um, duh.  If you can’t understand the benefits of being married to an intelligent woman, then I can’t help you.  I don’t do brain transplants.

6.  We have good personalities.

Being a doctor isn’t just being a good technician.  We have to sell ourselves and our skills to our patients.  We have to engender trust from strangers, which requires a good “bedside manner”, ie a good personality!

7.  We tend to be low maintenance.

When you have slept in bunk beds in your late twenties and lived off of the most likely expired peanut butter and graham crackers found in the dark recesses of random cabinets, high maintenance really isn’t in our vocabulary.  We don’t expect limos and hot air balloons on dates.  Just show up and have food served at something other than room temperature and you are way ahead in the game!

8.  We have a unique perspective on life.

We take care of sick people, we have witnessed the moments that Death has come to take our patients away, and we have comforted those left behind.  When this is how you spend your days, we are much less likely to give you hell over forgetting to pick up your underwear off the floor.

Although, for real, pick up your damn underwear 🙂

McHotties rule!