5:30 a.m.—the alarm sounds. Go back 13 years ago, and I was out the door to start my diesel-engine Volkswagen and head to the gym. After working out and showering, I arrived at my office 30 to 40 minutes early because any later was too rushed for me.
Now I wake at 5:30 a.m. to enjoy some quiet time before the school morning storm, which involves a hot cup of herbal tea and sitting alone on the living room couch swiping off the crumbs from the previous day's follies. Three kids who are not supposed to eat in the living room obviously did not get the memo. The one day I work, I gladly throw my bags into a crumb-laden minivan and arrive to work 15 to 20 minutes early. I almost skip into the office, happy to have an adult day doing what I love most—clinical hygiene.
The clock is ticking . . . it's 11:36 p.m., and there is enough time to submit the homework assignment that's due in 24 minutes? Why wasn't it completed earlier? With no family nearby to help, a delay at the kids' school quickly translates into a delay in mom's schedule. Add in a deadline for a vulnerable populations curriculum, business conference calls, a backlog of podcast episodes that need editing and the needs of a family, and burning the midnight oil is routine and necessary. Finishing graduate school is a goal that has been started and stopped due to family responsibilities, but the end is finally in sight.
This is a small glimpse into the lives of the hosts of the MOMgienists podcast. One has turned stay-at-home mom except for one day out of the week, and the other has become a national speaker, adjunct faculty member, graduate student, and writer. Do these stories sound familiar?
Women find ways to handle the challenges motherhood brings to employment, entrepreneurship and continued education goals, but dental hygienists seem to face unique ones. Ever been told to take your paid vacation in conjunction with the doctor's vacation? Or clock out early or come in later even though a full day of child care is paid in advance? To “find your own time to pump your breastmilk and do it in the restroom"? This scenario inspired Christie's first article, "Overcoming the challenges of pumping breastmilk as a dental hygienist." And who can leave out the experience of having the carpet pulled out from underneath you by being fired during maternity leave? And let's not forget the internal battle of "mommy guilt.” Do I work too much? Am I missing out on my kid's life? Should I pursue this goal now or later? These are just a few of the mental battles and decisions a “momgienist” may face.
Women find ways to handle the challenges motherhood brings to employment, entrepreneurship and continued education goals, but dental hygienists seem to face unique ones.
The MOMgienists movement started because of these unique challenges. Two dental hygiene friends facing the hurdles of motherhood spent years laughing, venting, and coping with the challenges of pregnancy, breastfeeding, working, going back to school, and starting a business. They brainstormed to find a way to share with other hygienist moms. They trademarked the terms momgienist and momgienists, and thanks to the dynamic talents of Jasmin Haley of "Beyond the Prophy" and Christie Lincoln of "Your Smiling Hygienist," the MOMgienists podcast was born. The podcast tackles serious topics such as anxiety and professional bullying, shares the fun of going to dental events together, and provides some amazing interviews of other women in and out of dentistry.
Jasmin Haley, left, and Christie Lincoln, right. Photo courtesy Jasmin Haley and Christie Lincoln.
For example, episode 27 introduces listeners to one momgienist's courageous story of going from teenage mom to director of a dental hygiene program. Another momgienist shares her dedication to inspiring other dental hygienists all while making sure her daughters live full lives, with one daughter managing a challenging health condition. Her story is shared in episode 47. Season 3 promises to bring more laughs, maybe tears, and celebration as Jasmin finishes grad school and Christie dives deeper into her passion project. Season 3 also introduces an additional cohost, the hilarious Karen Fiala of the Nebraska Dental Hygienists Association, who can put a smile on anyone's face. Episode 46 gives a taste of Karen's personality.
So how can you listen to the podcast? If you have an iPhone, click here, or open the Podcasts app and search for “MOMgienists.” Don't have an Apple device? Android listeners can enjoy the conversations with the Stitcher app or Google Play. The coolest part of a podcast is even the busiest person can listen at their own time on demand—while working out, road tripping, or over a Bluetooth speaker while you clean the house.
The movement doesn't end there. The Facebook group "A Safe Place for MOMgienists" provides a more personal exchange. There are virtual meet-ups, words of encouragement exchanged by total strangers, and there may or may not be some dancing videos. But most importantly, it is a place to find support, laughs, and a little extra “atta girl” when we all need it. Members of the MOMgienists community meet up at meetings such as RDH UOR and enjoy morning walks, dancing together, and just talking. We don't want our listeners or any MOMgienist to be eating lunch alone at these events, unless they want to.
Going to RDH Under One Roof 2018 or ADHA CLL? Be sure to find at least one of the MOMgienists roaming the floor and say hello or hang out for an interview. Jasmin is a speaker at both events so listeners can find her easily. From the expectant mom to grandmom, we love and support our fellow MOMgienists.
Editor's note: This article first appeared in RDH eVillage. Click here to subscribe.