The glamorous life of parenthood and medicine

Dr4. med. Ana Zelic Kerep

The glamorous life of parenthood and medicine

By Ana Zelić Kerep, MD (YoungEHA Ambassador)

Is it possible to have it all – the career, the family, good health, and sanity? Is it possible to give all of yourself to work and still manage to fulfil the needs of your children? I can only try to answer these questions by talking about my own personal experience. It may not apply to everybody, but it's better to start than not to write at all.

I don't have that much experience at being a mom. My little one is only two years old, so we are both new at this. One thing that truly makes things difficult during this time is sleep deprivation. A LOT OF IT. At a certain point, it does get the best of you. It is a real added stress to the already challenging career path, and it is not to be taken lightly.

I already wrote about how this career path was a dream come true, and the way it all came to be. Little did I know what motherhood would bring into my life.

I think that, for the most part, if you find yourself in a demanding specialty, you probably have a high sense of duty and an innate need for achievement. The moment you become a parent, you have a whole other arena of life in which you desire to perform, in order to fulfil the needs of this tiny human being you are responsible for. Honestly, it does get hard. I'm not whining but some days, I am truly happy if I wear matching socks. All of a sudden, the overstretched 24-hour days become even shorter and time becomes infinitely more valuable.  These two lives overlap. So, for me, even when I am home, I really am not. Very soon after coming home from work, I often go to my little office space and continue to work. My little one does not understand this, and it creates even more pressure to an already pressurized life.

After a lot of thinking about this, I formed a couple of thoughts I would like to share.

We are only human. Yes, your patients need you, your family needs you, you need you. But perhaps we should be asking ourselves: what will truly be important five years from now? Ten years from now? Is there any merit at all in overworking yourself and trying to do as much as you possibly can and as fast as you can?  Do you really need to burn the candle at both ends?

I want to be a good (the best) mother and I want to be a good (the best) doctor. Those roles are not mutually unobtainable. What matters is measured responses to live your best life under the current circumstances, and mostly, on days when you question time realities and, "How am I going to get this all done today?," knowing you're not alone, and that there are others out there who understand.

Some things you cannot postpone, and there are some things you simply cannot afford not to do. Knowing, despite super-human effort, some things you will not manage, no matter how hard you work, and granting yourself the occasional forgiveness. In the midst of all these conflicting interests, if all this is done right, you can set a bright example for your children, an example of hard work, overcoming and doing anything (most) you set your mind to. I find it to be a magnificent way to live.

If this in any way resonated with you, I want to end with a couple of words of encouragement. You are just as worthy as a physician and/or a scientist, even if you are, at least for a fleeting amount of time, taking time and focusing all the extra energy on your family.

Everything you set out to do (and allowing yourself forgiveness when you get nearly there), you will. Reflecting on it all, I wouldn't change anything no matter how hard it gets. Even if you're not wearing matching socks, some days you'll manage to accomplish the impossible.

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Last Updated on Wednesday 01 September 2021.