Moms Make it Work: Emily from Maryland

Today we have Emily from Oh! Apostrophe posting for our Moms Make it Work series. Emily is a internet/mommy friend of mine who is also a part-time health care career woman. Our similarities with timing of our family milestones and then working part time in health care are a bit uncanny--hmmm, I wonder if Emily will announce her third pregnancy this year? (no pressure, girl). I enjoyed Emily's take on working away from home three days per week, the wonderful balance that allows and the unique challenges that come with flip flopping roles throughout the week. I love the advice at the end and am glad Emily shared this post with us for the series. Enjoy!


Hello!  I'm Emily, known to some as Oh! Apostrophe, to others as Dr. O, and to the ones who matter the most, as mom.  Like all the others in this series before me balancing multiple titles, I'm honored to share how I (kind of, some days) make it work and want to thank Julia for asking me to share my story on her blog.  I "met" Julia through her blog back in 2010, I believe through researching cloth diapers or breastpumps or something else equally exciting, and quickly realized how much we have in common.  I've followed just a year behind her in the life milestones of engagement, marriage, first baby, and second baby, and have loved getting kind of a sneak peek into my future as I follow along with her.

What is your background story?  What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

I grew up as an only child with educator parents who both worked full time during the school year.  My mom's schedule was ideal from my point of view- she worked the same hours that I was at school and was on vacation when I was.  In my hazy view of my own future, I pictured being a mom to multiple kids with whom I spent lots of time, having a fulfilling professional career, and somehow blending those two roles perfectly together, leaving room of course for fabulous vacations with my handsome future husband.  I headed off to college with plans to continue on to med school, considering it a foregone conclusion that I could have both a medical career and the family of which I had always dreamed.  The double-edged sword for women of my generation is that we are taught from a young age that we can have it all.  Somewhere along there we should probably be reminded that there are only 24 hours in each day.

I majored in biology and continued on my merry pre-med way until junior year of college.  It was then that I started to open my eyes to what a career in medicine would probably mean for the things I knew I valued so much... "free time" and "family time" and "working to live, not living to work".  Just because I could go to med school, did that mean I should?  My heart was just not in it, and I knew I didn't want to dedicate many more years of school and then very likely many many hours a week to my career.  My advisor and a lot of my classmates thought I was nuts, but I would like to give my 20 year-old self a huge hug for realizing that medicine was not a great fit for me.  Among many of the questionable decisions I made during college, changing my future career plans was a very solid choice.

Looking into the allied healthcare professions, then, was a very conscious choice on my part to find a career that fit the kind of future life I wanted a bit better.  {I should probably mention here just how personal such a decision is- I am not in any way implying that women and mothers should not be medical doctors- I know many who are and love it.  It was just not the right choice for me.}  Typically allied healthcare professions require less post-graduate schooling than med school, and often less demanding work schedules, but still involve direct patient care.  I looked into becoming a physician assistant, a dentist, an optometrist, a pharmacist, a podiatrist, a chiropractor, and a physical therapist.  After an obsessive amount of research (truly my speciality!), eyes won that race. 

I married my college sweetheart and best friend soon after graduating from four years of graduate school and joined a practice later that summer.  I was in the right place at the right time and kind of fell into a subspecialty practice I love, doing developmental vision therapy.  There is no "typical day" at my office.  I might see a baby in the morning, a child with a visually related learning problem in the afternoon, and an adult who has suffered a stroke in the evening.  It's challenging in a good way and different all the time.

Pregnant with #1

11 day old Finn

In March of 2011, my first son was born and it was time to put into place the plan that I had so carefully made almost a decade earlier.  After taking a ten week maternity leave, I returned to work just three days a week.  There was an adjustment period of course, and some days when I wished I could just be home with my sweet baby all the time, but overall, for me, it was about as close to perfect as you can get.  When my second son was born in 2013 I was able to take a bit longer leave, but returned to the same three day work schedule.

Pregnant with #2

5 day old Cormac

What are the best parts of your situation?  What are the biggest challenges?

The best part of my situation is that a lot of the time, I feel very balanced in terms of my work life and my home life.  I started with my part-time schedule at about 27 hours and have whittled my way down to 22 hours, which is the sweet spot for me.  I work three days a week, but not in a row, which is on purpose!  After a full day at work, I am ready to be home with my boys the next day, and the reverse is true as well.  I am not cut out for either full time work away from my children or for being home with them all day every day.  I'm not ashamed to say that sometimes leaving for work in the morning feels like a vacation, and that eating breakfast alone at my desk is a much needed break from the demands of being a mom to small kiddos.  Being away from them some days allows me to really treasure the days that I spend with them.  I am so grateful for the chance to do both.

Complaining about the challenges seems like sour grapes, because I feel beyond lucky that this situation works so well for me.  If I had to come up with some though, I'd say that I'm a bit stuck between the stay-at-home-mom and working-mom worlds and don't really fit into either of those social groups perfectly because of the way I spend my weeks.  There's also the issue that part-time work, in my situation, comes with no benefits.  I have had zero paid maternity leave and could not take off as much time as I'd truly have liked.  I don't have sick days, and so if I need to be home for a sick child I don't earn income that day.  I will take the trade of great flexibility instead of more benefits any day, but it is a drawback for sure.

Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set-up staying put for the long haul?

I love my career.  I love the current practice I'm in and see myself there longterm.  I imagine picking up another day of work once both boys are in school, but I'd love to continue with a less-than-full-time schedule so that I can be involved with their activities even as they get older.  I'm so grateful that my career has this kind of flexibility.

How do you handle the Mommy Guilt that comes with your role?

By working at all, there are things I miss out on.  Sometimes things fall on days that I have to work, and I can't be there.  It doesn't matter how many things I do get to go to, I still feel guilty to miss others.  It doesn't always feel good to leave my boys in the mornings, especially when they're tiny.  There is also some guilt that comes with staying home, as my husband heads off to work every single morning, which allows me to live my dream schedule.  If I worked full-time we could go on more vacations and pay off our home faster.  He agrees that me having so much time with the boys is the best thing we could ever "spend" our money on.  I could not be more grateful for his unwavering support of me and of our family.

Tips for how you make this work for you?  And advice? 

Staying present in whatever role I'm currently in is really key in my opinion.  I try to leave work at work and be present with my boys when I'm home.  I remind myself of my priorities often.  In this season of life I don't prioritize having a spotless and beautifully decorated home, getting to the gym often, or making extra commitments outside of my family life.  There will be time for those things later.  Right now is the only time in my life when I will have young children at home.  So give yourself grace.  Remember that bit about only having 24 hours in a day, and think about how you truly want to spend them.

Thank you, Emily! See the rest of the posters in this series here.


  1. My favorite part about this (given my role as a university career counselor) is how much research you did in college to find a future career that would fit with your life!! If only everyone would do that - also, it's hard to know at 20 what you think your family life will look like in 10 years. So glad to hear you are satisfied with the choices you've made!

  2. I love your thoughts about balancing life working part time. I also work part time, and like you, I feel it's a good fit for me right now. It's hard to complain, having a nice balance of work and home, but I also feel socially like I don't fit in either SAHM or working mom social groups.

  3. Love it! And I agree with Erin - awesome that you thought that far ahead in college. I really didn't. I think I probably still would have gone down my current career path, but it sure would be nice to have more flexibility in my hours! Maybe someday.

    Your boys are beautiful! One more on the horizon? ;)

  4. Julia, I KNEW you'd comment on how I'd be due for baby #3 next year! HA! If there is a baby #3 in our future, he/she is a bit further off than that. But I'll still be watching closely to see how you juggle it all!

  5. So true that this is the only time our kids will be little. Loved it!

  6. Love this! I am loving hearing about everyone's different situations! It just goes to show you that you really shouldn't compare because no one is the same! I think working part-time would be the perfect situation for me too.

  7. Love this post Emily! I also have to agree that I'm so impressed at your 20 year old self and all the research she did into her future career. Really really smart!

  8. Wonderful post! Emily is my parenting hero :)

  9. Love this post! Wishing I could work a little less myself, so I always love seeing how people make it work.


Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Sorry that commenting through Blogger can be a royal pain. I'm glad you are commenting despite that, and please email me if you are having issues.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...