It was one of those slippery moments of working mom-hood, when childcare slipped through, back-up childcare slipped through, and I was left at a crossroads. How do I get myself from point A to point B and what do I do with my four-year-old in need of supervision? Thankfully, my day of commitments was a day of meetings. A day of meetings was far more flexible for me than a shift at work seeing patients. That would have been more of a figure-it-out, you-must-show-up-to-work no-nonsense scenario. At least with these meetings, I could call-in, though it wasn’t as meaningful to just call-in. But what other choice did I have?
I sat there, my morning coffee already heading towards its lukewarm destiny. My four-year-old in her shimmery batman dress and cape, crawling in my lap, the crayon in her hand daring to leave marks on my sierra sand colored couch. And as I sat there in a silent tantrum, not wanting to miss my department meetings, but feeling as if I had little choice, it dawned on me that there was an alternative. I could just bring her with me. I compiled a list of ways to approach this. I could shoot my boss an email and apologize and let him know I was bringing my daughter. I could show up with her and apologize and explain how childcare fell through. Or, I could just show up with my sidekick.
I watched as my four-year-old mimicked my every move. Sipping her milk and declaring how her coffee was hotter than mine. Drawing a panda version of me, picking my favorite blue color for the panda’s belly. And at that moment, I decided there was truly no other way to show up than with her at my side. Unapologetic and with assertion. Because there was no denying that this is my life: I am a mom and a physician, and I care about both and I will show up for both the best way I can. And more importantly, this is what I want my four-year-old to see with her little eyes. I want her to know the unique privilege of being a woman. I want her to see that we can be parents and also contribute to the workforce. It may be a balance to strive for, but we do it the best we can.
The best way I can today means a purple backpack with daffodils stuffed with my iPAD with downloaded Disney movies, pink kid headphones, my daughter’s Leap Pad, a pencil bag of crayons, coloring books, snacks, a rainbow unicorn water bottle, and a stuffed animal. And my hospital work badge.
So, that’s what I did. It was a meeting I prioritized and if it meant bringing my daughter, then that is exactly what I would do. No apologies. This is how it is.
My little spunky four year-old, sat at my feet, because laying on the ground watching a movie was more fun than sitting at the rectangular shaped tables in stiff conference room chairs. She watched episodes of Doc McStuffins, part of Sing, she played some preschool app games, she colored, she drew, she ate cereal, she only needed a potty break twice. And all the time, she knew I was right there part of her world and part of my work world.
It felt like a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. I chose to bring my daughter to the meeting because the alternative was missing out on important decisions, updates, and discussions. I brought my daughter to the meeting because daycare is unpredictable. But mostly I brought my daughter to the meeting because I wanted her to know that this is unapologetically who I am. A working mom that certainly doesn’t have it all figured out, but is managing the best I know how. I want my daughter—and all sons and daughters for that matter—to grow up tearing down the judgment and stigma that follows that of a working mom. We can work, we can raise a family, and we can do it with no less confidence and competence than the next person.