So today’s post is in honor of all the incredible mothers out there!
Last week I was honored to attend the book signing of one of my best friends from high school, Hollee Schwartz. My amazing friend is the author of Good Enough is the New Perfect, which she wrote in concert with her friend from college, Becky Beaupre Gillespie. I feel their book offers one of the most amazing cocktails to successful motherhood that I have ever seen. Despite being in the throws of getting my new practice up and running, I have gobbled this book up in the last ten days like candy. The book looks at the generations of women that have come before us, the legacy they have left, and the challenges we modern mothers now face.
The premise of the book is that in our quest for perfection many of us have not found happiness. Let’s face it – in our fast paced, high pressured communities, who among us hasn’t found herself trying “to win the motherhood Olympics”? Addicted to signing up for the endless offerings available to mothers and children throughout Chicago, many of us have found ourselves overscheduled and just trying to keep up. In addition, I feel we live in an age of information overload. Previous generations never “seriously contemplated whether we had the right mix of organic vegetables on our plates when they were shooing us into the neighborhood” with bologna sandwiches and processed cheese. Today we have to worry that if we step ten feet away from our car with our children fastened securely inside that we can be arrested for neglect. These pressures are intense even for those moms not working outside of the home. When you throw a career into the mix, some women can be pushed to their breaking point.
As a physician, I have so many people coming into my office who just “don’t feel good”. After listening to the history, examining the patient, and checking the necessary labs and tests, I often am faced with a paradoxically frustrated patient because everything that we can objectively measure is normal. The next question I’m often asked is, “Could this be related to stress?” and my answer is always YES!!! If you are unhappy, or if your work, family, or personal relationships are not working, “your unhappiness is palpable to the people around you” and inevitably will have negative effects on your health. This is what drives me to be more than a vehicle for pushing pills and ordering tests. I think doctors need to identify what factors are negatively affecting a patient’s health, and then work as a team to develop a strategy the patient can employ to make it better!
One of the first steps is identifying that “good enough is the new perfect”. I’ve had to learn this lesson time and again as I’ve navigated the world of the working mother. I throw myself into being the best physician I can be, but I often don’t feel as accomplished on the motherhood front. I do my best to stay on top of the kids schoolwork, attend to their personal safety and emotional needs, and keep the house stocked with nutritious options, but just last week, after a particularly grueling day of getting this practice off the ground, I fell asleep without remembering my six year old had lost his second tooth and was expecting the Tooth Fairy to pay him a visit! At 6am when I heard the boys stir, I immediately remembered my foible and prepared myself to face that special place in hell for mommies like me. Luckily my quick thinking allowed me to construe a story about the Tooth Fairy mistakenly going to California to look for my son, since that’s where he lost his first tooth. As only a six year old could, he bought it, and was overjoyed the next morning when he found under his pillow not one dollar but two! Late fees, of course!
We all need to reach “a point in parenthood where we make peace, more or less, with the inevitable mistakes and concessions” that go along with raising a family. We need to celebrate our successes and forgive ourselves when we don’t quite meet the mark. Focus on leveraging your strengths, and control the voice within your head that berates you for your weaknesses. Personally, I’m going to stick to my talents as a physician, because I’ve proven I’m a crummy Tooth Fairy! 😉
Thank you to Hollee Schwartz Temple and Becky Beaupre Gillespie, authors of Good Enough is the New Perfect, 2011 Harlequin publishing.