Monday, May 15, 2023

A Physician Mother Considers Mothers Day

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Science & Society

Ed Hessler

Just before Mother's Day 2023,  psychiatrist and STAT writer Dr.  Jennifer Adaeze Okwerekwu wrote a reflection on "reclaiming time."  The idea began to take shape when her mother asked whether she remembered  "movie nights." Her mother told her that "they were my parents' way of reclaiming the time they were unable to spend with us as physician-parents and recent immigrants trying to build a new life for our family."

On the occasion of her 4th Mother's Day, Dr. Okwerekwu muses "on how I can reclaim time to spend with my own children but also for myself. A stranger's words have stuck with her as she tries to "'resuscitate time'. Just like CPR, attempts to resuscitate time are physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting."

She reports research on the free time of those identified as "the happiest people," two facts of her life which impinge on her free time -- "expected unpaid physician labor and the invisible mental loads of  motherhood." The "harried state of being" that results is known to sociologists as "'time poverty.'"

Okwerekwu recently re-read Workparent: The Complete Guide to Succeeding on the Job, Staying True to Yourself and Raising Happy Kids, by Daisy Dowling. From this she has learned "how to optimize my work-life balance as a physician-mother." And she provides some examples.

Okwerekwu closes with these observations. "Mother's Day provides us with an opportunity to express gratitude toward the maternal figures in our lives. The holiday encourages us to honor the sacrifices mothers make to care for their families. I hope physician-mothers, especially those most at risk for time poverty, will take small steps to invest in ourselves....Lets do less, and gain much more. 

This is a good hope, for consideration, for all mothers. And also for the rest of us.


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