In Part 4 of her series called “Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter,” my daughter Jackie reflects on success and the balancing act of being a professional woman and a mother. Enjoy!
Hello, my friends! It’s Jackie here, coming to you live from the Big Apple! I’m living with my brother Nick here in the big city while I intern at two contemporary art galleries in Chelsea. I am having the time of my life, but if I’m being completely honest, the 9-to-5 life does not always agree with me. You’re probably not surprised. I’m sure the mundane life of an office drone does not agree with most college kids, who are used to waking up late in the morning, going to class for a maximum of two hours at a time, and then hanging out with their friends for the rest of the day. What a life we college kids live!
At the end of a workday as an art-gallery intern, I come home each day completely exhausted, and all I want to do after work is eat my dinner and curl up in a ball in my bed. I can barely rally to cook myself food at the end of the day (often opting for the oh-so-convenient takeout). It is in these moments of exhaustion that I pause to think about what it means to be a working parent, specifically a working mother. It is hard to imagine being this drained at the end of a day only to come home to cook a full dinner for three or more hungry mouths, help your kids with homework, tuck them in at night, and finally find time for yourself, if there is any to be had. It seems next to impossible. And yet, I know for a fact that this seeming impossibility is very, very possible, because my mother did just that. My dermatologist mother has taught me every day of my life how to be Wonder Woman—simultaneously workingwoman and loving mother—without any supernatural superpowers at all.
My mother has been there for me—physically, mentally, emotionally—every day of my life. From taking me to piano lessons and dance lessons, to driving me to and from school each day and listening to my elementary school turmoils, from setting up play dates when I was little, to attending my soccer and field hockey games when I got older, my mom was always lovingly and enthusiastically present. In the midst of all the craziness of her own life as a mother, daughter, wife, friend, and doctor, she always made room for mine. Now, many may say that this support of one’s child is the baseline requirement of any parent, and while that may be the case, my mom went above and beyond expectations.
For the majority of my childhood and young adulthood, my mom has been a working parent. Her day would start with waking me up and getting me ready, feeding me, and driving me to school. She would then trade taking care of kids to taking care of patients from 9 to 5, at which point she would trade again and pick me up from school, cook our family dinner, and help me with my school work. We would go to bed, only to have it all start up again in the morning. It was an exhausting job, I am sure, and it was one that did not let up for 18 years. I am grateful for every home-cooked meal, bedtime story, bandaged knee, and birthday party. I am grateful for every time she zipped my coat when I was little, for every tear she dried on my cheeks, and for every encouraging sideline cheer. I am incredibly grateful for every single thing she has done for me, and continues to do for me no matter where in the world I am, when all these years she could have been doing so many more things for herself.
Beyond this unwavering devotion to our family, my mother has given me something utterly invaluable, something I didn’t quite realize was so important until the idea of a future career started approaching far quicker than I had anticipated. My mom has shown me that it is possible to simultaneously be a workingwoman and a loving, supportive mother. She has shown me that not only can you be both these things, but you also can succeed at them and excel beyond your wildest dreams. She has shown me that, yes, you will have to make sacrifices in your life, but you can make these sacrifices without necessarily always sacrificing yourself. My mom’s dream was always to own her own practice. Her dream was always to be an exceptional mother, too. My mom has always instilled in me to dream big, and she has shown me, by example through living her own life, that it is okay, even encouraged, to have more than one dream. My mom is living her professional dream, checking off the items on her career wish list now that my brother and I are off building our own lives. My mom is living her dream, all of them, and she’s just getting started.
I once heard someone say, “You cannot be what you cannot see.” They said this quote in reference to the lack of female leadership in many professional industries across the globe. It was in reference to the importance of placing strong women in positions of power to inspire younger generations of women to dream big. Well, lucky for me, I have had this exceptional female leadership at my fingertips, right in my own home. I never needed Wonder Woman or any superhero to show me what a woman is capable of because my own mom has shown me what I can truly be. I’ve seen it, so I can be it. All of it. Just like her. And just like my mom, I am just getting started, too.
Read more in Jackie’s series here:
“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 1” – “Lessons Beyond Skincare and Leaving Home
“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 2” – “My Community, Family, and Friendships at Yale
“Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 3” – “The Importance of Routines and Healthy Habits”
Diary of a Dermatologist’s Daughter – Part 4