What was the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
I found the answer to that today. It was an eventful weekend. It's been about 2 months since I've started my new job as a first time attending (more on this on another post!) but since then, it's been non-stop with the move from San Diego to Los Angeles, getting little C adjusted to her new school, starting a new job, studying for boards (which is next month!) and furnishing a new house! I have to say we got pretty lucky and everything is going fine with of course a few bumps in the road but that's expected.
My in laws, including my mother in law, father in law and two aunts came to visit for the weekend. It was a stressful but happy weekend! Moving on to the topic of this post, my brother in law (big C's brother) and his wife and I don't get along. The primary reason being that he doesn't like the fact that I'm a physician and how often I talk about it, which with him, is mainly limited to group emails and text messages amongst my husband's side of the family.
If you guys remember my story, I did not live with little C for the first 2.5 years of her life as she stayed with my parents in Irvine, an hour away form San Diego. Afterwards, I was a single mom with little C for 2 years while I did long distance with big C. During those times, we didn't have much time to visit his side of the family in northern California. I look back at these emails and I do realize I talk a lot about what I do, career wise, but often times, it was out of guilt and my way of explaining as to why I was so sorry that they aren't able to see their granddaughter that often.
Moving on, my brother in law and I had an argument today about the fact that he cancelled plans on us this weekend and he didn't offer an explanation. (Reason being--he just didn't feel the need to tell me.) But regardless, in this argument, he said that I needed to know my audience. The fact that his wife (stay at home mom) is at home with his daughter all the time with no help makes me inadequate to talk about my struggles as a working resident mom when I had help from my own mom. He said I was a "part time mother" for 2.5 years and that his wife is a "super mom" because she doesn't ever use a nanny or house cleaner. Wow. Those words really got to me. It took awhile to process. Little C is already almost 5. She's been with me over 2 years now. I an her favorite person. She is 100% sure that I am her mama so why did I feel like I couldn't breathe?
I did my best to hold it all in during the conversation but when it was done and over, I couldn't' even process it. I had to excuse myself and go the bathroom. I locked myself in a stall and I was brought back to my first week of residency after maternity leave. My boobs ached. I was still pumping and bringing milk back to C at the time. I was experiencing all the symptoms of post-partum depression but didn't even realize it. People asked how little C was doing and I could barely hold in the tears as the insurmountable guilt of leaving her with mom came back to me with every mention of her name. The mom guilt was so strong and with just that statement--it came all back to me.
It made me question am I bad mom? Is C going to be okay? Am I selfish for wanting a career and motherhood? I turned into that insecure first year radiology resident in the bathroom at the VA hospital with tears streaming down my face only to bite my tongue so hard as if the physical pain could take the emotional pain so I can back to fluoroscopy suite to do the next upper GI study that was on the schedule.
But I am not that little girl. I am not a part time mom. It takes a village to raise a child. Even as an attending, I have a wonderful village that includes a nanny who helps me with morning drop offs, a house cleaner, a dog walker, a grandmother who is willing to help out whenever she's needed and a wonderful husband, who despite his own busy work schedule, will watch little C in a heartbeat if he is free.
I will not apologize for my village. They make me the mom and physician I am today. I will not apologize for being a doctor. I will not apologize for being an example of what a woman can accomplish to my daughter. And most importantly, I will not let your words doubt my ability as a mom ever again.
I am more than a part time mother. I am her mother. And the only opinion that should matter is hers. And tonight before bed, I asked little C, do you wish mommy could stay home with you? She said, "no mama, I go to school because I'm a kid and you go to work to help sick people because you're a doctor."
Don't let people like him bring you down. As Taylor Swift will say, haters going to hate hate hate but I'm just going to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off...