I used to feel guilty for not having all the time to be home with my kids, and I still do sometimes. I feel like I am a mediocre mom because I am not there to make breakfast for my kids or take them to school and pick them up after school and do all sorts of activities with them. I have had this guilt for a long time, from the time my kids were born. The longest time I had off to be home with my kids was when my daughter was born and I took 2 weeks off. With my son, I was in nursing school and could not afford to miss clinicals; so I had him on a Tuesday and by Thursday I was back doing my clinicals at Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph. I never want my kids to think I prioritize work over them, that I love my job more than them. They have always been understand maybe because to them its normal, all their lives they have watched me work tirelessly to reach my goal of becoming a transplant surgeon.
The other day I left for work at 930pm and didn’t get home until 40 hours later. I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have a wonderful supportive spouse. I can be gone for almost 2 days and not worry about my kids because I know they are well taken care of. Support with a demanding career and schedule is a must. If you are a single mother you can build a community of people to help you when you need help. Its ok to ask for help. If you are a mom with young children and you live far away from your family, get out there and make a family. I learnt very early on that family is not only through blood, but any people that love and care for each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other.
I thank God for giving me a mother who had the strongest work ethic I know. She never once called off work, she was so reliable and she was never late. She worked deligently no matter what it was, weather it was during our first few months in America when she worked at McDonald’s or as a hospice nurse until the end of her life. She taught me at a young age Ecclesiastes 9:10, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.’ I have lived by that motto. And at this stage in my fellowship, considering it’s 2 years to learn to be an abdominal transplant surgeon, I better be the best surgeon that I possibly can be. Which means I have to be willing to get in earlier, stay later and work hard.
One of my top five favorite people that one day I would like to have tea with is Indra Nooyi the CEO of PepsiCo, second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. She is a phenomenal woman who is one of the most hardworking people I have read about. In one of her interviews, she describes coming in to work every day at 7, rarely leaving before 8, taking home bags of mail to read overnight, and wishing there were 35 hours a day in order to do more work. She did all of this while raising two young daughters. She credits her success to having a wonderful supportive husband and mother. She said, “what ever you do, look upon it as a passion and a calling. Throw yourself into it, throw your heart and hands into it and be willing to work hard.” There have been a lot of sacrifices. I may not be there to make breakfast every morning for them or drop them off at school or attend all their events; but I am showing them daily that with hard work you can be whatever you want to be. Part of my legacy is to build a better future for them.