How do women measure success? Is it by mothering and having a career? How do they carry out both forms of work to their satisfaction? What helps? What hurts?
This is a weekly series about successful women who participate in the workforce in a range of ways building their careers while mothering. These women fly under the radar of the media but need to be heard. They are silently successful and warrant recognition. They are compassionate, persistently hardworking women who deserve our admiration and offer advice to new mothers. Each week I will spotlight a different remarkable woman.
Pelin Lynch, DDS, is a dentist who never debated being a mother with a career:
"Since I was a child, I always envisioned myself as a professional woman and a working mother. I never thought I had to choose one over the other. My mother was an airforce nurse and a great role model to me. In my family the importance of independence and financial freedom were always emphasized and education was the priority."
Like many women today, even though Pelin established her career before marriage and motherhood, she found herself conflicted when the children were on the scene:
"By the time I got married and started to have children my career was pretty much established. My husband and I worked close to home and had somewhat flexible schedules. I still couldn't help but to burst into tears when I dropped my oldest son to day care the first time. When my kids had colds and I had to work, it became very stressful. When I missed my kids during work, I reminded myself this sacrifice was good for them in the long run. As my kids grew older, they became well adjusted and independent with lots of friends. I learned from my kids what mattered to them and tried to meet their requests. For example, after a couple of complaints, I made sure not to miss too many class parties and arrange my schedule in advance. My husband sacrificed a few hours a week to coach our three boys. We got a lot of joy out of that."
The use of the word "sacrifice" is an interesting one because it is applied to her work. She sacrificed her work to be there for her children. In other words, to the extent she could, children were put first. At the same time, she felt her kids benefited from seeing her as a working woman:
"I think as a professional woman I make a good role model to my kids. It takes a lot of discipline and commitment to do it and especially to do it well. My kids see it everyday and it sets good moral standards. It would be unfair to expect them to push their limits if their parents didn't show any effort to better themselves. Also, they see that with good time management there is still time for fun."
Pelin is also a good role model for new doctors beginning their careers:
"I volunteer as an attending in a hospital residency program. Every year new graduates come to be trained. Most of them are at the stage of figuring out how to balance family and career. I always them them to have long- and short-term goals to get there, not to worry, and enjoy the journey. They should surround themselves with loving family for support. Nobody can do it alone."
Other career women with children have spoken in this series about not going it alone, but everyone doesn't have family support. Many others different from Pelin have looked to friends to sustain them but this means reaching out and building relationships, another kind of work actually.
Finally, Pelin joined the other women in this series who placed motherhood at "the center of my universe."
"The love and fulfillment I get from it only a mother can feel and understand. If I never had kids I still would live a full and happy life, but I am so grateful that I was blessed with this joy. Motherhood gives me a whole new purpose everyday to tackle the challenges thrown my way. Interaction allows me to relate better to families and children. My professional and mothering interests are separate, but my kids make me a happy person and a better professional, too. Success is when I get a hug and a kiss from a patient (and occasionally from my kids!)
Please leave comments for Pelin to let her know how we admire her remarkable work and fortitude. If you would like to be part of this series and inspire others with your story, please contact me. If you work part-time or volunteer remember it is all work that has to be balanced with motherhood, so don't hesitate to join other women in this series because your story is different from others. We thrive on differences!