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.

Advertisements

Housewives vs Stay-at-home Moms

Like another blogger has stated, my child is not the center of my universe, my world, or my life, or however you want to say it.

Let me explain.  I love my child with every ounce of my being.  Especially after having fertility difficulties, we feel insanely blessed to have a happy and healthy child.  Now that being said, he is not currently, nor will he ever be the center of my universe.

I firmly believe that in order to be the best wife, mother, sister, daughter, or surgeon that I can be, I have to be the best person I can be.

twinkies-1

Image courtesy of http://www.hostesscakes.com.

Okay, so what the hell does “being the best person I can be” mean?  For me, it means feeling fulfilled.  My child absolutely adds to my sense of fulfillment, but so does being an trauma surgeon with an academic career, running half marathons, reading US magazines while eating Twinkies that I (may) have hidden from my husband, going to church, having road trips with my girlfriends and cheesy date nights with my husband.

The moment our vernacular changed from housewives to stay-at-home moms, it seems that our culture now expects every single waking moment of every mother to revolve around her child(ren).  The term housewife implies a number of roles and responsibilities that involve the needs of the entire household, not just its junior members.  It seems to me that stay-at-home moms are now supposed to entertain their offspring with an endless number of field trips, learning activities and developmental stage appropriate crafts in order to be worth her weight.  I honestly don’t remember a single staged “craft activity”, outside of school projects, from my childhood.  I mean, we had crayons and Play-Doh.  Although I am admittedly not an expert with a glue gun I don’t think I have been otherwise negatively affected by this.

I am not currently always physically present for my child – I miss some skinned knees, tummy aches, smiles and laughter.  Do I feel guilty about that?  Yes and no.  Yes, because of course there is a part of my heart that rips a little bit when there are days my child only sees me over an iPhone.  But also no, because I know that my career, my hobbies, and my friends make me a happier person.  This inner happiness and fulfillment allows me not only deeper and more meaningful interactions and relationships with my family, but also makes me a more patient and loving mother.

So why the hell am I writing this?  Maybe a little to remind myself that even though I am currently on call for the 5th weekend in a row, I am still a “good” mommy.  But mostly for all my fellow members of this magical club called motherhood.  Where, once membership is granted, it can never be undone.

Give yourself a break.  F&% Pinterest, make a really ugly cake for your kid’s birthday or heaven forbid, buy one from the grocery store.  Drop your child off at a playgroup just because you want to eat lunch without a small human stealing your food or pooping their pants.  Lock yourself in the bathroom and give yourself a pedicure.  It is OKAY.  You are entitled to your own wants, needs, desires and dreams outside of and separate from your offspring.  They will absolutely benefit from having a happy and fulfilled mommy instead of a strung out always-feeling-like-a-failure mommy.  And after all, because at some point, they are going to have learn, they not only are not the center of your universe, but they are not the center of anyone else’s universe, either.

5 No-No’s for Women in Their 30’s

No, this is not a post about the terrifying horrors of mom jeans. Instead, this is another post inspired by real conversations I have recently had with friends. In the past week, I have had two of my beautiful friends upset and a little heartbroken about words spoken to them and it made me realize that although these statements should obviously never be uttered to any woman of child bearing age, apparently it isn’t obvious… so here goes my public service announcement.

 

5 Things You should never say to women between the ages of 20 and 40.

 

  1. Are you pregnant?

NO! For the love of God, I either am puking because I actually get sick like any other non-ovary carrying human or you are seeing a stomach bulge because I ate a damn burrito for lunch. Lesson – unless you see a foot kicking through a chick’s abdominal wall, do NOT ask if she is pregnant! Fertile woman do actually still catch the flu and gain weight for non baby reasons.

Embed from Getty Images
  1. You will understand when you become a mom / You don’t understand because you don’t have kids.

One woman even told my friend who is an ob/gyn that she couldn’t possibly be the best at her job until she has gone through labor herself. Let’s break this idiocy down. That is like saying I won’t be the best trauma surgeon until I get shot by “two dudes…” I’ll take a rain check on that award. And newsflash – Not all women want to have children and another 7.4 million women have fertility difficulties (www.cdc.gov). So please think next time that the person you are speaking to might have gone through the heartbreaking journey of infertility or miscarriage.

 

  1. I’m so sorry you aren’t married.

And I’m so sorry you are on your third. Boom! Just because you have made certain choices for yourself doesn’t mean everyone has to make the same choices. You know how McDonald’s has a menu? Yeah, well, so does life. And when does being single, which is so “cool” in your twenties now something to pity because the calendar year has turned once or twice? Just because you are friendly with someone does not mean you know her entire life story! Maybe their parents went through a terrible divorce that has left an emotional mark, maybe they went through a broken up engagement, and guess what, maybe it just doesn’t matter. I personally would much rather see my friend single than have to watch another friend suffer through a terrible divorce.

Embed from Getty Images
  1. I just couldn’t imagine someone else raising my child.

No one ever says this to my husband, and not just because he is 6’6” and a former professional athlete. Well, okay, maybe, but you get my point. I want to start a professional marketing campaign that states, “ALL moms work.” Whether it is part time, full time, in the house, out of the house, for a large corporation or our own company, we ALL work. Haven’t you heard the saying, “It takes a village”? Because it does, we all raise our children, regardless how or where we divide our time.

Embed from Getty Images
  1. So when are you going to hurry up and have kids? Tick, tock, tick tock.

This again should be obvious, please see #2.  I really don’t think some of you know how these words can slice into the heart like a knife when you are struggling with fertility or miscarriage.  Your friend will tell you if she is trying or wants to get pregnant in her own time.  Please allow her do so.

Alright, PSA is over, you may now return to your normal programming 🙂