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Being Humbled as a Mother and a Doctor


Medicine and motherhood can both be humbling. Sometimes you can feel you have things together and then you remember that you don't.

Every other week our house cleaner shows up at 6 a.m. ready to start. You can imagine the scramble the night before that occurs to clean the house so that the house can be cleaned. After going through this routine for almost two years, my husband and I have carefully orchestrated our roles.

For example, one of his roles is to wake up early to open the door for the house cleaner. One of my roles is to bribe, plead, harangue, encourage, and threaten our children into cleaning their rooms before her arrival. This morning we did really well. Just before we all got ready to leave the house, I thought “We’ve really got this together.” The kids were completely ready for school 10 minutes early and had a chance to play before leaving for the bus stop, our toddler was dressed, fed, and relatively content, lunches were made, coffee was drunk - we were in the groove. In an extremely rare circumstance, I was actually early leaving the house.

Arriving at work, I noted the lovely snowfall that, unfortunately, hid the numerous ice patches in the parking lot. I slipped and slid my way into the building. Not so coordinated - I imagined people driving by wondering if I was still drunk from celebrating the Green Bay Packers big win. Entering the building, I stopped by the restroom quickly and accidentally dropped my coat into the sink which in turn triggered the automatic faucet. Since my hood was actually caught on the faucet, it was difficult to dislodge it without thoroughly soaking it. Leaving the women’s bathroom, I dragged my dripping coat and reflected on how whenever I start feeling like I have everything together, I’m reminded that I don’t.

Medicine and motherhood can both be humbling. In medicine, those things that humble me making me a better physician - they are reminders that I must constantly learn new things, be sensitive to my patient’s thoughts and perceptions, and that I am fortunate that my mistakes rarely cause real harm. As a mother, I am humbled by my children’s undying love expressed in a multitude of ways, the complete trust my toddler has that I will catch him, feed him, be there for him, and by the awesome people I am raising. As much as I try to convey an appearance of confidence, accomplishment, and calm, I am actually very fortunate that I sometimes slip or do silly things - it keeps me more grounded.

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