Music to My Ears

River in the fall

“Your son has a lovely boy soprano voice. I would like for him to sing a solo at the Christmas program….”

“Mom! I get to sing! In front of everyone. She said I have a gift!” He beamed as he scrambled into his seat. 

I reread the note several times over the rest of the evening. My kid is special! Isn’t that what every parent longs to hear? And yet there was part of me that felt sad. Music might very well be the thing that takes him away from me. 

He is so brave, getting up in front of people to put himself on display like that. I would have been paralyzed by the prospect at his age. 

“You know there are boys choirs that travel all over the world,” I offered tentatively, imagining his sweet face singing Ave Maria on television. 

He loves music so much. He is playing piano in second grade at the level I was at when I was in junior high. It comes naturally to him somehow.

“I want to share my gift, Mom, but I don’t want to be away from you and dad.” He started to tear up. “I like being with my family…”

More than anything else, more than hearing that someone thinks my child has the voice of an angel, what I am most proud of is that my kid feels loved enough that he wants to hang with his family. 

He will spread his wings and fly off soon enough but he knows that he will always have a safe place to come back to. Well. At least until he turns 18. That is how I know that all of the difficult choices and sacrifices I have made are worth something. 

My kid feels whole.

That is the best gift of all. 


Doctor’s Day

Cute butterfly on a blossom

Doctor’s Day was yesterday. Did you know that?

Caught me completely by surprise.

It used to be a big thing ten years ago. The hospital hung banners up and handed out logo emblazoned umbrellas, bags, pens, and whatnot. My staff signed a big card the office manager picked up and a new potted plant would now sit on my desk. Drug reps dropped off cards and swag. There would be emails celebrating doctors sent from the suits. Well not really from the suits. From their secretaries. The point was, though, you just could not escape what day it was. 

To be honest, all of the hoopla back then made me feel very uncomfortable. 

This is not why I am doing this. I am not here for the accolades or the potted plants and I resent the insinuation that these things matter to me. Please leave me alone.

Each year it is less and less of a big deal. This year? Silence. Not a single frickin word from anyone. In fact, my only clue was a post from someone else on WordPress. 

Yesterday I told a woman she has metastatic ovarian cancer. I told a man that he now has diabetes and we developed a treatment plan together. I did a newborn visit on a precious two week old baby. I cried with a woman over her divorce and saw a man whose mother just died from the same disease he now has. Then I watched the last few minutes of my son’s karate class and picked up cupcakes for my daughter’s class party. 

This is life. My life. Every day. 

And you know what? Despite any bitching and complaining that I do here, I really, really love my job. It is such an honor and a privilege to care for people, to be there when they need help. THAT is what keeps us going… keeps me going.

In truth, I’d do this job for free. Just don’t tell the suits that I said that. 😉



If you didn’t already know from previous blog posts, I became a mom in my late 30’s.

There are some benefits to being an older mom. Like, getting to watch everyone else raise their own kids the wrong way (nothing like having your own to teach you that you don’t know jack…. humility). Or having financial stability. Plus, you do have all those extra years to focus and get your career started off on a good track.

There are drawbacks, too, though. Such as realizing that everyone else will have graduated their kids from college when yours are hitting junior high. Freedom is a long ways off. Or, getting asked if you are your son’s grandmother. OR, having to wear reading glasses to apply dance make up to the moving target that is your daughter’s face. 

To be honest her make up looked really great… until I popped those readers on. Yikes. Another blow to the aging ego.

First Post Challenge (Enhanced*)


My first post from 2/26/14.  Thank you Edwina’s Episodes for the challenge.  Time travel is fun!

This morning I dragged two very cranky children to daycare kicking and screaming. I was running late after fighting with them…potty, dressing, cough medication…and before it was over with each of us was crying, for different reasons. My daughter wanted her blankie. My son wanted to NOT go to “school”. Me, I just wanted to stop feeling like the worst mother ever.

How many other women lived this today?

By the time I got to the office, my first patient had been roomed. Running late REALLY stresses me out. I spent a minute or two trying to choke back the tears and frustration, because let’s face it, no one wants to hear about their doctor’s problems and then ran into the room apologizing and smiling, praying the bloodshot eyes were not terribly noticeable.

Then, my next three patients did not show up.

This does not happen often. Usually I am terribly overbooked, so when I get a no show, I feel…lost.

For a whole hour and fifteen minutes I had no patients! I used the time to get caught back up on all of the charting and paperwork that I am responsible for, but in the back of my mind the frustration was mounting. This morning I had felt as if I had incarcerated my children in some awful foreign gulag with strangers that would surely torture them given the opportunity. My son had begged and pleaded with me, sobbing, to stay “Just one more minute, mommy!” My daughter stared at me accusingly with pain in her eyes as big, wet tears of sadness rolled down her cheeks. Why? So I could go to work and do nothing. Never mind the fact that these missing patients may have had mornings like mine, or worse.

I started fantasizing about quitting my job, becoming a stay at home mom. My student loans are paid off. I could do that. For a year.

Then the self pity started. No one understands what I go through every day to be here. They don’t know that I worked all while pregnant, praying that I did not go into labor early because I could not find a locum to cover my practice. They don’t understand when I have to take a day off for family emergencies or a long overdue vacation so I don’t go crazy or for studying to retake my boards (yeah, another ten years gone by). No one cares how little sleep I get, how many hours I work on charting from home, or how hurt I feel when a patient gets ugly with me, or that when they are calling the “on call doctor” that I may be in the middle of cleaning up toddler vomit. Blah, blah, blah.

I need to tell someone!

The truth is that I think we all want our physicians to have it all together. Give me an illusion of a capable individual who has everything in hand any day. Particularly if you are going to be operating on me. I don’t want to know that your are frustrated with your kids or your spouse right before you cut me open to resect my colon cancer. Or before you do a pelvic exam. Or talk to me about my depression.

The afternoon was a whirlwind, running from one room to the next, and kept me from thinking any more until now. The kids are fed and in bed and peace has returned to the house, and to my heart. As I hold my daughter’s little hands as she is drifting off to sleep I remember these important things:

Children make your life terribly complicated. But they also make enduring the other crap in your life much more worthwhile.

A hug and a kiss and an “I love you, Mommy!” can make it all go away better than a martini. Most days. Sometimes I still need that martini. Just not as often.

Being a physician is an honor and a privilege and worth working hard at. I wrestle daily with motherhood and work and how to balance it all. Sometimes I feel guilty that I find my job so fulfilling. Then a patient says, “Thank you!” and gives me a hug and I find peace again.

And now….

The dishes are not going to wash themselves!

*Enhanced because I did not start including photographs for months but I went ahead and added one here.

A Little Honesty for Tuesday

I get asked quite a bit, “How do you DO it?!?!?”

Let me be frank, people. I am not special. Not superhuman supermom. Not even hardly.

First, I have OCD. Yes. Most bloggers have mental health issues. I am one of them, it seems. You want your doctor to have OCD, trust me. It is just that it is hard to turn it off in the other parts of my life…

I also do not sleep much. It isn’t that I don’t like sleep. I do. I really, really do. It just does not like me most days. Or rather nights.

Also, I have to confess that I have a housekeeper. Once a week (or twice if I am terribly lucky) she comes to clean the floors and do the laundry and change out the sheets. If she didn’t come, none of that stuff would ever get done. Ever. Even if I were not blogging. Seriously. I will have to work until the day I die just so I can have a clean house.

However, lest you think my life is all glamorous and sexy with a housekeeper and a life of comparable leisure: Sunday, I spent the entire day in my jammies with the saggy bottoms. The same jammies I wore the day before. I didn’t shower. Or brush my hair or brush my teeth. No make-up. I baked the weekly sourdough bread for the family (probably best not to ask how it got sour), fed and watered the kids, and then wrote/blogged during bathroom breaks.

Where do you write/blog you ask? Here:

No joke. There is a lock on the door.

And it only looks THIS good because the housekeeper cleaned it on Friday. (I love, love, love her!) The other place I write is when I am holding one kiddo’s hand or the other as they drift off to sleep at bedtime. My smartphone helped me keep my sanity when I was breastfeeding and it keeps me sane during handholding now. Thank you, Apple. Thank you.

So, there you have it, folks. A glimpse into my very human existence…

Learning To Read Between The Lines


Did anyone else learn to read from the 1970’s from Mac and Tab phonics books?

The set is still around, but markedly different from the vintage version. I still have that old, unsanitized collection.

For instance, in the first book, Tab (a cat) eats his friend Mac (a rat) because Mac ate Tab’s dinner ham. Heck, he was hungry and Tab was napping, right? A few books later, in a book entitled Mac Is Safe, Tab turns himself in and the Vet cuts Tab open. Mac is saved, no worse for the wear.

The stories are illustrated. Yes, there is one page with a dead appearing Tab laid out on the operating table with a gaping hole in his belly.

No joke.

(I would post a picture of it but I am not sure about the copyright.)

I let my son read these two books last night and he was sobbing until I took over and got to the part where Tab wakes up from the anesthesia.


Crisis averted.

Except, maybe not.

He woke up several times last night. This whole morning he has been obsessed over whether or not Mac and Tab are really OK after all.

These stories made a huge impression on me. Not in a negative way. I just remember the operation very vividly. I am not sure what possessed me to let my son read them, except that I was excited to show him a piece of my own childhood now that he is starting to read himself. And hey, I didn’t turn out too bad myself, did I? Well. Don’t answer that.

Note to self: Avoid kiddie horror stories before bedtime in the future.

Tune in tomorrow for the dreaded schedule-a-teacher-conference-because-of-your-son’s-behavior note…



“Mommy, tell me another story about when you were little!”

My kids have taken a sudden interest in stories about me. We have a 30 minute drive to and from school together and the whole time, it is “Tell me another!”

I should be flattered that they care, that they find me interesting. But arrrrrggghhh!

As I wrack my brain for the next vignette I have realized that there is so much of my childhood that I have forgotten.

The happy things? Gone. The infuriating, hurtful, painful things? Those remain. Why? It can’t be that I was just never happy. I remember the feeling of happy. I just don’t remember why.

What is your very first memory?

Mine is of visiting my aunt in San Diego and feeling the need to freak out when she started coming after my hair with the curling iron. (She said to hold still or it would burn me!) I think I was three.

Is your first memory of something happy or sad/scary?

I am super curious about this, so please, please comment!

Timeline From Hell


“Mommy, are there timers in the Enchanted Forest?” Blue eyes looked up at me hopefully.

“No, baby. No timers.”

He smiled.

“Good. I hate timers.”

And there it was. How he really felt.

We made our second annual birthday trip to the Enchanted Forest this weekend to collect presents from the Birthday Fairies. (Confused? Check out this post.)

In the real world, however, he and I battle each morning about getting dressed. He lies on the floor. He stands on his head. He bites his toenails. He plays ninja pirate and terrorizes his sister. He picks his nose and eats his boogers. He picks his nose and wipes it on the wall. He screams, sobs, spits, kicks. Anything and everything to keep from getting dressed.

In desperation, I got a timer. He gets ten minutes to get dressed. If he doesn’t, he loses a toy.

I now have a closet full of toys.

So I had reached the conclusion last week that the timer thing was not working. I was planning one of those “come to Jesus meetings” because I cannot fight him like that and still end up running late for clinic.

Hearing his feelings about the timer, made my heart ache. I remembered my own father going stark raving mad because I showed up 5 minutes late in the parking lot from church. When I say stark raving mad, I mean near apoplectic. I have serious anxiety issues about time now.

I don’t want this for him.

He is just a little guy with a sweet heart and a wandering mind. He is not trying to deliberately ignore me. It just comes naturally to him. He is four. Not forty. I need to stop trying so hard to squeeze a kid into a grown up world. Maybe the world could give just a little?

So yesterday when I woke him up I whispered, “Wanna get dressed without the timer, buddy?” He nodded and smiled with his eyes still closed.

And you know what? He did it. No screaming or yelling. No ninja pirate. No timer.

This morning, same thing.

On the way out the door, he grabbed my hand. “Mommy, it makes me feel good when you brag on me.”

A reminder to not focus merely on the negative. Praise can be a powerful motivator, even more than punishment. I am not perfect. Neither is he.

And that is just fine.

IKEA: Relationship Stress Test


I don’t usually post twice in the same evening, but another post “I Can English” by amommasview got me reminiscing about this particular IKEA trip a few months ago. Check out her event “IKEA Sundays”!

Instead of marriage counseling, couples should be required to make a shopping trip to Ikea on a holiday weekend with two small children in tow (not necessarily their own) with a list of five furniture items they need to decide on and purchase successfully. If they can survive this without breaking anything or murdering anyone and STILL want to get married, it was a match ordained in heaven.

The union is clearly blessed by God himself. Let no man tear asunder…

Ikea is well known for its “some assembly required” issues, but there is so much more to the experience than just that. Putting it together is actually the easy part.

My kids want to flop down on any upholstered surface they can find. Walk a few steps. Flop. Walk a few steps. Flop. Walk a few more steps. Flop. Lord help me. Time outs stopped working on the first floor.

The toy section is a mine field! At least it is a cheap minefield…

Why on earth are there only two tiny women’s bathrooms in that whole huge, gigantic store?

And why, even though you make a potty break upon arrival, do your kids decide that they have to pee at the one single place that is the farthest from both locations…right when you are about to locate and gather the appropriate boxed items from the warehouse area?

And when you get to the said bathroom, running at breakneck speed before the toddler bladder breaks lose, why does the floor have to be wet with a thin layer of slippery, muddy appearing goo (I really hope that was only mud and not something else) that has clearly accumulated through the whole day thus far and makes walking treacherous? Why does the low, kid friendly sink have to not function and the others have a full 18 inches of countertop in front before reaching the bowl… soaked… with no paper towels in sight because instead they only have the loud air blade hand dryers that terrify small children?

After promising the kids we would take home Swedish meatballs, why did the register in the food section have to be closed? “Take your items to main check out to purchase!” the sign says. Right. Damn you and your tasty meatballs that are worth actually standing in line again for another 20 minutes!

Someone is bound to need to pee again before this is over…

Just when I thought I was home free, there was the discovery that children’s beds actually have the slats sold separately, necessitating another two hour round trip back to IKEA before closing time so a 4 year old boy who had his heart set on his new big boy bed does not get disappointed.

Why do I love IKEA so much? Arrrrrggghhh! I am a tortured soul.