I recently read that Meredith Vieira was retiring from the Today show. During her emotional announcement she said,
"This is a difficult day for me. I'm going to try to hold myself together here. But after months of personal reflection and private conversations between my family and my friends, I've decided to leave Today in June...
I've really had a great time, but time is one of those weird things; you can never get enough of it. And it just keeps ticking away, and I know that I want to spend more of mine with my husband, Richard, and my kids, Ben, Gabe and Lily."
You can clearly tell that she loved working at the show but still chose to leave to spend more time with her family. As a mother myself, I applaud her decision. It's hard to leave a job you love where you are so highly respected and admired. But I suspect that Meredith recognizes that motherhood is also an accomplishment in and of itself.
As a surgeon, I used to think that career and professional achievement ranked highest on the success meter. I used to think that I could do it all and still be a great mom. I now realize that you can do it all, just not all at the same time. I have also realized that I don't want to do it all if it means time away from my young son.
As a society, we respect professional accomplishment and things like award-winning journalism but rarely acknowledge domestic accomplishment. We consider women that make a decision to be stay-at-home moms "just a mom." Whether a woman decides to work outside the home part-time, full-time or not at all, I think it is time we realize that being a mom is one of the world's most important jobs. Parents are responsible for shaping the next generation into well-rounded members of society.
Meredith made it very clear that she was not leaving the show due to her husband's health. While her husband does have multiple sclerosis, he is healthy right now. She said,
""My husband Richard is in good health, and that's part of the reason I want to leave right now because... I want to be there with him and I want to have fun and I want to appreciate our time together and not have to punch a clock so much."
Too often we wait until people are sick, dying or gone to fully appreciate them. We often wish we had spent more time with them and made them a priority. But like Meredith, we shouldn't wait until we are faced with an illness to focus on spending time with our family and friends.
Of course, I am in no way suggesting that women everywhere quit their jobs and we revert to a male-dominated work-force. I think it's important that women and families are able to make choices to put their families first.
While some might argue that not everyone is able to change jobs or careers due to financial matters, almost all of us could restructure our lives in an effort to focus on what truly matters.
I personally only work three days a week in my surgical practice. While I could certainly increase my income by working full-time, I know I can never get back the time with my two-year-old son. While not everyone is self-employed and can create their own flexible hours, we can try to leave the work at work and be in the moment when we are at home with our families.
While Meredith may not win any awards as a devoted mother and wife, I applaud her decision to step down and to follow her heart and do what is best for herself and her family.
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