There is a line in the play, "Oliver," about food — glorious food. Well, I'd like to rephrase that. Sleep — glorious sleep. They say that Americans in general and women in particular don't get enough sleep these days, and sometimes I wonder what it is about modern life that makes our lives so hectic and complicated.
Many of our mothers were stay-at-home moms who accepted that their lot in life for better or for worse was to care for their husbands and children. Then came the feminist movement of the 1970s that almost made full-time mothers feel inadequate if they didn't go out to earn a living. I lived through those tumultuous times when women were demonstrating for equal rights and more freedom to pursue our individual dreams. I am a product of those times. But I sometimes wonder if we women are really better off and if our children are not the helpless victims of our selfish quest for freedom.
This may sound very strange coming from someone who is the president of an association that supports women in the pursuit of their professional goals. But you show me a working mother and I can almost guarantee that she will feel pulled in so many directions and be riddled with guilt about whether she is doing an adequate job of bringing up her children.
Gone are the days when women would go to dental school, take off several years to raise their children, and then either go back into dentistry or retire. These days, more and more women are working right through their pregnancies, taking only a couple of weeks off for childbirth, and then returning almost right away to full-time practice. While some of our husbands are surely getting better about sharing household duties, the ultimate responsibility for running the household usually still rests with the wife.
So what is the answer?
I think the answer lies in finding balance and in learning to take time for ourselves U and in sleep. So many of us — myself included — just don't get enough sleep. Like exercise, we need to schedule our time to make sure we get enough of it. If we don't, we won't be any good for our children, our husbands, or our patients. And we also need time for renewal. Just as sleep recharges our batteries on a day-to-day basis, getting away for personal renewal recharges our life's batteries. We need time to reconnect, to share, and to look at our broader goals in practice and in life.
That's where AAWD comes in. So many of our members seem to put off going to our annual meeting thinking that they can't afford the time away from work for such frivolity. But participating in AAWD is not frivolous. It's almost a need. It gives us the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. It rekindles our enthusiasm not just in dentistry, but also in life. If you need an excuse to justify going to the annual meetings, here it is: You'll be able to get lots of CE. The other part of it, though, is just as important — the camaraderie, the friendships, the chance to learn from people who've been there, done that. Women grow by deepening and renewing relationships. It's much more difficult for us to do that at other dental meetings.
So, if you weren't able to make it to Anaheim, join us at the ADA in Orlando this October for our officer's installation or at our next annual meeting with the AGD in Washington, D.C., in August 2005. You'll be glad you did.