July 20, 2011The Icing on the Cake
Dear Dr. Laura,
Posted by Staff at 12:00 AM
I have never written a letter to anyone like this. I can't stop thinking that I just need to let you know how I feel about two of your books: The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands, and In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms.
I could go on and on, but I will try to summarize as best I can while my precious 13-month-old daughter naps. I am an ophthalmologist. I spent my life working for my career, and I met my gift from heaven, my husband, in medical school. I was raised by nannies and day care, as my mother, also an ophthalmologist, worked to achieve money and social status. I was taught my worth was dependent on academic achievement, career, and financial independence, and I lived this every day. Medicine was natural for me because I love taking care of people - I just never knew why.
As it turns out, this working woman who "didn't have time for kids", actually yearned for a baby, and that need became so strong that it finally won out. Our daughter was born during my third year of private practice - with my mother. We had a terrible relationship when I was young, but I decided to join her professionally because it seemed like a wonderful opportunity. My husband agreed to move here for me, and my mother and I became the first mother-daughter ophthalmology team.
Then my daughter came. When I first laid eyes on my baby, I fell so deeply in love with her I have no words to describe it. I am crying as I type this. She changed us forever, and suddenly I dreaded returning to work, and repeating my mother's mistakes. The twelve weeks I spent home on maternity leave flew by, and even though the little voice inside me was telling me I wanted to stay home with my baby, I went back. I couldn't get past the thoughts of the patients who needed me (please - there are plenty of others who will happily accept care of my patients), and my staff (who are all still working at the practice now owned by someone else) and I put my family last. Well, I hired a nanny, and spent the next two months crying on my 45 minute commute each way to work. I envisioned my infant's little feet as I performed cataract surgery, and cried with our surgery center manager who told me how much she had loved being a SAHM to her girls. During this time my baby refused to nurse, and we had to bottle feed my pumped breast milk.
Then one morning, as I collected my breast pump and other belongings to leave for work, I saw my precious baby propped up all alone on the couch, while my nanny walked into the kitchen to get something. My life stood still at that moment, as I realized that I would never again abandon my child. I fired the nanny that morning, quit my job, cancelled all my surgeries, and became a SAHM. Luckily, my husband was raised by a wonderful SAHM, so he fully appreciates the importance of mothering one's children, and he backed me 100%.
The emotions I have experienced over the past year are indescribable. But I have never once regretted my decision, and I have never honestly even had a bad day with my daughter. I have never felt as though being a mom is difficult, I have never lost my patience, and I have no more stress. It's amazing! I feel like I was put on this Earth to take care of my family, and I have never been so happy, and so at peace with a decision - next to the decision to marry my husband.
The icing on the cake, for me, was reading your books. Because I knew how to be a great mommy, but I now know how to be a great wife. The relationship between my husband and I improved the day I finished your books. We've always had a solid marriage, but there were definitely changes I needed to make, and I have made them. I have stopped nagging, stopped being a perfectionist, stopped complaining, and when he walks through the door after a very tough day at the hospital (he is a radiologist), we greet him with open arms. Thank you for allowing me to fully appreciate the gifts I have been given. And thank you for supporting SAHM's. I feel so sorry for so many of my friends, family members and colleagues who are missing out on their true calling in life. You just can't get this time back.
Very truly yours,