Behind my desk at work is a framed photo of my two children. On a regular basis, I hear compliments about my cute offspring from patients. Sometimes these conversations lead to questions about my personal life, such as “How old are your kids?” or “Who watches them when you are at work?”. Most of the time, I try steer the conversations back to the medical visit, but once in a rare while, I do get side-tracked and find myself exchanging stories about the joys of parenthood with a patient. This tends to happen the most when I am taking care of female patients who have children similar to my kids’ age.
A few of weeks ago, I was talking with such a patient. As I was asking her about her family life, she told me that she had been a stay-at-home mom for the past few years and had just received news of a job offer. She was feeling pretty excited about this new opportunity but also quite nervous about all the new changes it would bring about, when she suddenly looked at me and asked, “How do you do it? You’re a working mom, how did you deal with this transition?”
I was definitely caught off-guard and flattered that she was looking to me for this type of non-medical advice. We ended up chatting for a bit longer before she left, and afterwards I couldn’t help but think about what a privileged situation I find myself in as a young mother-in-medicine.
I typically try not to share personal details about myself with my patients, even if they ask, because…frankly, that’s just kind of weird (ironic, isn’t it, considering that I blog about such details…) and I don’t want to take up patient-care time talking about myself. But over the past year, there have been a couple of instances that I can recall when I’ve been in the room with a patient, and we’ve just made a connection, a special friendly spark, I might even call it. I find myself thinking, had I bumped into this person at a restaurant, or the playground, or at church, we probably could have ended up being friends.
Is it strange when patients and physicians have this kind of friendly connection? Or is it simply a reminder that despite how divergent our lives are, the bond of motherhood really does make you feel instantly more connected?