Balance: let’s get one thing straight. Balance is a magical word that doesn’t exist. Balance is an impossible pursuit that does nothing but lead you down a rabbit hole of destruction. Many people ask me how to find “balance” as a student and as a working mom. But the truth is, I have yet to find it. I stopped striving for perfect balance. Instead, I seek self awareness and staying present in the NOW. I have my priorities arranged in Permanent order: self care, motherhood, medicine. And that will never change. So.. with that said, there are certainly tips I can share with you about what has worked for me throughout my journey: I utilize Charlee’s school time as the prime time for studying. Between the hours of 5am-5pm is when I can get the majority of my daily tasks done. Here’s an example to give you a better picture: I wake up around 4:30am, go on a run, work out. Or I’ll listen to lectures on the elliptical and study until Charlee goes to school. Depending on the day, I’ll go to class or work or sometimes both, and study until I pick Charlee up from her after school activities (cello, math club, or gymnastics). Having an activity for Charlee after school has been super helpful in allowing me to get extra study time in. After she’s done (usually around 7pm), I put the books down. Spend the evening with her. We cook dinner together. Eat together. Snuggle on the couch and watch Disney movies. I put her to bed, and the majority of the time, I’ll go to bed, too. (Unless I have an exam or other pertinent things that still need to be done). I strive to go to bed by 11pm or before. But again, it varies. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward right? Ha! Wrong! These days can be long and draining. But it’s important for me have a calendar and planner that keep me on top of my to-do lists. The calendar on my phone is my best friend. I use it the most. It’s always accessible and it can’t be lost on a post it. Another tip I can give you is making lists. To do lists. Pros and cons lists. Grocery lists. Homework lists. They are life savers! All of this is done on my phone. As much as I love pretty stationary, it’s not as practical for my daily reminders. Here’s another one: do not be afraid to ask for help. It takes a tribe! It takes support. It takes encouragement from your peers and mentors. REACH OUT. As soon as you come to terms with the fact that perfect balance is NOT achievable and realize that you can live your life HARMONIOUSLY if you’re able to stay true to your priorities, your day to day schedule with have so much more fluidity and grace. It won’t be perfect. But it’ll be pretty damn close.
These are the things motherhood have taught me, and why it will make me a better professional: Motherhood has taught me to take a deep breath before I open my mouth to speak. It has taught me to own up to my mistakes, recognizing that I am human- and human error in motherhood and in medicine is inevitable. It has taught me the importance of kindness and character. It has taught me to minimize the consumption of digital negativity, exposing myself to more content with positive moral and influences. It has taught me compassion- focusing on looking outward, rather than inward. It has taught me how to work hard- since mothers are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no vacations. It has taught me how to deal with the unexpected and adapt and adjust accordingly. It has taught me that it takes a village. It taught me how to find a tribe of dependable, like-minded, driven individuals and it taught me the importance of being PICKY about who you let into your tribe. It has taught me grace, showing me how to forgive, allowing me to move on and GROW. It has taught me that perfection is an unattainable goal that will only cause destruction and failure in the long run. It has taught me how to love myself, and has allowed me to realize that I would be incapable of offering my daughter the tenderness, companionship, and support that she deserves without loving me, too. It has taught me how to deepen my self-awareness, and invite those in whom I trust into the process. It has taught me how to appreciate a job well done. It has taught me to DO my best rather than TRY my best. It has taught me that understanding the question is more important than getting the right answer. It has taught me how to rescue myself, instead of waiting my whole life to be rescued. Motherhood taught me how to be brave, how to persist. It taught me how to stay driven and determined and dedicated. These lessons have allowed me to grow into the woman i’ve become today and I Intend on carrying these lessons with me throughout my whole life as a mother and future provider.
One thing I know for sure, is that I love being a mother more than anything in this world. Charlee has taught me how to love, how to be patient, kind, forgiving, how to be trusting, how to inspire and encourage others, how to stay curious, how to love myself and NEVER settle for anything less than I deserve. When I look at Charlee, I see hope, I see a future far greater than she could ever imagine. I see light and excitement and joy through her quizzical eyes when she asks me a billion science questions about space and astronomy that I know nothing about… only to spurt out the answer with pride, and inform me of her newest discovery. My heart melts and a fire burns inside of me when I hear her confident voice telling others of her aspirations of becoming the first female astronaut physician to land on mars with her generation of fellow girl bosses. I get butterflies when I look at the artwork she creates that’s pinned to the wall above her bed- pictures of her in a NASA uniform surrounded by other girls of different shapes and sizes and colors, standing tall and proud, ready to embark on her first mission to space. My eyes tear up when she says “I’m proud of you, mom”, even when I feel like I could be so much more than I am today. I used to feel rushed in my own journey, cutting corners and skipping steps so I could be “done” with all of my goals before she was old enough to notice. But I’m learning that by taking my time and doing things the right way, we’re able to grow and learn and laugh and love together as we journey through life. And one day, when it really matters, she can look back on her experiences with her mama, and know that she is invincible and capable and worthy of greatness.