Thursday, April 7, 2011

With your head held high

I heard a phrase today that I will remember for a lifetime. It has given me inspiration in my struggle to achieve a perfect balance between parenting and working GUILT-FREE.

Grand Rounds today was given by a very accomplished woman (and Mom). Faculty at Harvard Medical School. She's affected national policy and changed the course of a major public health issue. What struck me was her introduction. One of the first comments was that one of her first employers, while reluctant to hire her only part-time, soon realized that even her part-time work, amounted to a dozen others working full time. (I nodded when I heard this because I often feel I'm efficient and use this rationale to justify my part-time work as well.

Her introduction was 15 minutes long as her introducer took us through her career path and mentioned all her accomplishments along the way. When finally at the end, we were all anxious to get on with the show, the introducer continued, "I can't end an introduction about this remarkable woman without telling you about her family. She has 3 amazing children who are all incredible human beings. They are all adults now and have all gone on to college. Until all 3 children went to college, she worked part-time. And the remarkable thing about her, is that every day that she left work early, she did so with her head held high. She made it clear to those around her that raising her family was as important as her work."

I love that last line - I often feel like I have to sneak out the back door when I leave early to be with the kids. Today I decided that I need to hold my head up high more often at work. I am a confident woman in the many hats I wear at work, but when it comes to leaving early, I am quiet, almost sneaky, hold my breath and only relax when I'm finally home with the kids...it doesn't need to be like that. I felt an enormous amount of pride and excitement to hear this woman's introduction today. It was a clear articulation of the woman I want to be. Proud to be both Mom and Doctor. That's the introduction I want to earn 15 years from now.

12 comments:

  1. You just gave me goosebumps.
    Beautiful.
    I'm proud of you.

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  2. Thats great!
    I never feel bad about leaving work to be with my family. But I feel bad about leaving my family to go to work- always. So at least I only have guilt half the time ;)

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  3. Awesome!
    I am proud to be a mother and proud to be a doctor. LOVE this post. I think we should all remember to hold our heads high! Two tough, rewarding jobs we're doing! Thanks MomT

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  4. Great post! On my early days I also find myself sneaking out despite working double time while I'm here. Today I will leave early with pride!

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  5. Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. This all goes back to refusing to apologize for your life priorities. Good for you for sticking with them!

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  7. What an encouraging post! Of course, I love the phrase, but I am also so excited at the possibility of being able to make a difference and be "accomplished" and work while working part time (during certain seasons of life at least). When I was just a premed, and a nurse, a doctor I worked with told me that I had "better never go part time" bc that was such a disservice, basically. This post shows that we can be part time and still be "worthy" of the profession. Wonderful.

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  8. When I finally opened my eyes I realized that everyone leaves early to meet their needs in their other life sometimes - be it mom, dad, single guy, or single girl. We should all hold our heads high for being smart enough to be efficient with our time management to take time for ourselves and our families. I don't go up to my partners when they are cutting out at four and say, "What! You are leaving early to take care of your hospitalized mother? To play piano at a jazz gig? To get your hair done?" And I don't hear it from them when I leave early to be with my kiddos (or get a pedi!). I feel lucky to be a part of a group where everyone recognizes that taking time outside of work makes you better when you are there.

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  9. I used to try not to let it be known that I worked part-time or felt the need to apologize for it, having trained in a wonderful and rigorous med school/hospital that nonetheless encouraged us to put families a distant second to career. I just gave a talk at a major cancer center a couple weeks ago, and in my introduction, I explained that I came to be doing my current job because I gave birth to my first and second children during fellowship. For the first time ever, I felt that if I was going to be away from home, it had better be for something I loved on terms that were acceptable to me and my family. The faces of so many in the audience lit up, in a combination of joy and shock, and afterwards, the person who had invited me--a very prominent male oncologist--thanked me for my candor. As he put it, "We all come to work and pretend as though we don't have kids, but most of us do. Thank goodness there are a few physicians finally willing to acknowledge it!"

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  10. Great post. I work part-time and have four kids. The biggest thing I learned, years ago, was not to apologize for it. This takes it one step further - hold your head high.

    Wish I could have been there!

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  11. I'm a nurse practitioner and was initially having difficulty finding a job because I was apologetic about needing to work part-time. Once I stopped apologizing and just laid it out there as a necessity...I had three part-time offers in a week!

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