5 Life Lessons from a Doctor Mom During COVID-19

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Boy, has my life changed in the past few weeks.?

As a family physician and Mom, my world has turned upside down – just like all of yours. I happened to become a certified Life Coach the week COVID-19 hit … well timed. I would have been devouring chocolate chip cookies without that mind management.

Even so, rolling with the changes for a bit of a control freak is not easy. The constant updates in my practice, kids online schooling, and my husband working from home have made things interesting to say the least. 

So many life lessons for us all. I wanted to share the biggest lessons I have learned from COVID-19 thus far.

5 Biggest Lessons from a Doctor Mom dealing with COVID-19

Mom guilt peaks in times of crisis 

Whether you are suddenly at home with your kids 24-7 or working longer hours away from your home, we are all deep into Mom guilt by now.

Were you short with your kids yesterday?

Did you not have enough home crafts prepped?

Did you not know the answers to a math question? 

Here?s a good one for Mom guilt: I?m the most likely source to expose my whole family to this thing.

That stinks. I am so lucky to have a husband that can work from home and we live in the country. Take that COVID. Oh, wait, Mom is a Doctor. Game changer. 

I love my career in medicine and would never shirk away in a time when Doctors are needed most. This is a calling we take on for life. But, these days, even Doctor Moms need to be reminded of this calling. 

Because it still hurts when I feel the need to hesitate for a second before giving my toddler a kiss after work. Or my husband tells me, ?Do you really think she should put that in her mouth after you?? Ouch. I did bring this child into the world after all.

That guilt is there for all of us right now – no matter what you do during the day.

Release it.

Know that you are doing your best.

Know that you will get through this.

Ditch your ideas of what a perfect Mom is doing right now.

A perfect Mom is YOU today.

And you get to decide what you make that mean. 

Wanting to kill your husband and loving him more than ever at the same time is totally realistic. 

Did you ever think you could have both those emotions at the same time?And for 2 weeks straight? Is every Mom out there with me?

My husband is amazing – he is home with my kids constantly these days. He is patient and tolerant and so funny. He takes the toddler on walks, has started preparing dinner before I get home, and usually makes the bed. I love him so much right now. 

He also never cleans up during the day. He refuses to keep the big kids on the schedule I so meticulously set. And gets on client phone calls and puts Eliza in front of Daniel Tiger way too much for my liking. And I want to wring his neck on a regular basis.

So, what?s a girl to do?

Give up control. Period.

Just give it up.

You cannot change the actions of your spouse despite your best efforts. And constantly arguing with him is not going to make you happier, your home a better environment, or change a dang thing he does. 

I know those Mom instincts about how our children and homes are managed. How it SHOULD be.

Who cares?

Who else is even watching right now?

No one is coming to see your dirty house anyway. And the cleaning lady, if you are lucky enough to have one, just isn?t coming either. Let it be for a bit and enjoy your family. 

It is freeing in many ways to let go of expectations – do what is fun. Roll with that strong-minded man in your life. Know that he is doing his best, too. And that?s all you can ask. It will make this process way easier. After all, he has nowhere to go – and neither do you.

Doctors can only be as good as the system supporting them. 

This whole crisis has been nothing short of amazing to me. I am learning everything COVID right alongside you. I am getting the same updates you are.

We had NO warning to get gloves, masks, or gowns. We weren?t starting to prepare in December. I was still planning spring break skiing in Colorado the week before this all hit. 

I check with my physician community and friends to see what they are doing. All of our medical practices are limited by the short resources we have. I would never have imagined this in America in 2020.

Do you use masks on every patient?

Do you save them for later when more sick patients are expected?

Can you kiss your toddler if you haven?t worn a mask all day?

The system just wasn?t prepared. I do not want to get political or play the blame game but we should have had a little advance notice on this thing. You can?t tell me no one knew. Enough said. 

The other interesting aspect of medicine right now is how much trust has suddenly been allotted to Doctors again. We can practice across state lines. Telemedicine is suddenly available to everyone.

Will this last?

Government control has increasingly stifled the medical world recently. Is it only in times of crisis that Doctors are allowed to use their discretion on what constitutes ?good medicine?? I guess we will see.

Consider your sources to maintain a healthy mind.

I come from a family of Doctors – I do not overreact to medical crises. Growing up in my house, if it wasn?t operable it wasn?t a real problem. I?m still not sure that my Dad believes in chronic disease. 

But, this COVID situation has been different. And I realized last night as I lay in bed awake all night worried sick about my parents, that I am letting my mind fall victim to political dramatics a bit.

I watched the governor of New York just prior to bed as he pleaded for more beds for patients.

Do I believe he needs more beds? Likely.

Did it make me sad to listen to? Absolutely.

But, around 3 am, I stopped myself. He is also making his political career here. And, like every other human out there, is interpreting the data through his set of glasses. That is human. 

Although I do want to believe he is being clear and transparent, he is a politician at heart. This may make or break his career. And what a great sound bit he created for history.

I?m not blaming him. I am choosing to believe that he has the best of intentions. But, I know that the impact I allowed his speech to have on my brain was not productive in any way. Maybe it was for others, it wasn?t for me.  

We have to all consider our sources right now.

How is what you are hearing effecting your mental health?

This is new for all of us. No expert knows exactly how dire our circumstances will be. And if they say they do, then you need to question that source. Even the highest medical experts won?t give you exacts for a reason. We don?t know yet. 

We are doing the right things through social isolation to slow and expand time-wise the spread of this disease.

You are doing your part.

Be kind to others.

Make this less scary for your child and less miserable for your spouse. 

Everything else is outside – you get to decide what you let in. And if you are awake at 3am thinking about it, you probably shouldn?t have let it in. 

If differing opinions and days at home with Netflix are the worst part of a pandemic, we have so much to be thankful for. 

Yes, we might be short on toilet paper. Make a home bidet. My toddler ran out of chocolate milk – see #2. Who gives a toddler chocolate milk regularly anyway? 

And my husband and I have VERY different opinions on the importance of the financial impact this whole COVID crisis will cause. He?s in the business of money, I?m in the business of saving lives. Just saying. 

My kids are still learning – and had just been complaining about wanting to try online school to begin with. Now, they have their chance.

My toddler misses her grandparents who typically watch her during the day. I miss my parents, too. But we can Facetime them – isn?t that amazing?

My husband has realized that he can essentially work from home – giving me so much ammunition for future child care when the kids are sick. I can?t believe we had actually just finished a home office weeks before this whole thing started. Weird coincidence there.

And I could not have asked for a better time to have finished Life Coach certification. For myself, my family, my staff, my patients.

We all need good mind management right now. We are learning what to let go of, where to listen, and when to just cuddle your partner, pet, or kids and keep out the rest of the world. 

More than all, though, I have learned the value of medicine. I could not be more proud of the Doctors, midlevel providers, nurses, and staff I call colleagues. We are all stepping up in this time of need in any way we can.

Healthcare workers are rallying together for resources, guidance, and simply to help others. We are choosing to go in, frequently to situations outside our comfort zones and without the needed resources. This is what we do.

And many of us are really lucky – we have family to support us in doing so. 

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