My Magical Year.

When my son turned 3, I had the opportunity to take the whole year off with him.  It was a most magical year.

After he was born, I recall returning to work after my maternity leave dreading being away from him.  Crying on the days I had to work into the evening when I would arrive home and he would already be asleep for the night.

It was planned for me to take time off with him after my contract ended but my job became utterly undesirable. It made it an easy choice to start my year off earlier than expected.

Our days were carefree. With our son being three, one of my favorite ages, it was all so enjoyable.  We would wake, have breakfast and spend hours playing with Legos, painting and rolling out play doh.  I remember telling my husband that I was pretty proficient in the types of “play doh” for sale in town and which worked best.

3 mornings a week, my son attended nursery from 9-12 or 1 pm.  Then on alternate days we would hit the park or the zoo.  The Doha zoo despite many referring to it as tragic (for the animals) is the perfect size for 1-5 year olds.

On one of our zoo trips, I encountered a group of moms with their children.  The other moms commented on my energy as I chased my son through the grassy area while they spent the morning chatting and watching their children play.

I wanted my son to myself. I had had plenty of time to chat with my girlfriends in the past.

We had the occasional afternoon play date but that was it.  I could do lunch anytime but my son would only “be little for so long” or so I had heard time and time again.

In the evenings after my son finished rough-housing with daddy, I spent an hour putting him to bed.  I bathed him, read him stories and answered so many questions about the world.

I was pregnant at the time and he would ask:  Would he have a baby brother or sister?”  Did the baby move inside of me?  How would she come out?  What makes the clouds and rain?  So many questions.

I had long since been telling him “stories out of my mouth” as he would call it. I spent bedtime telling him the most elaborate stories. Stories I wish I would have written down. The pregnancy hormones raging through my body added to my creativity.  Since then, I have not been able to reproduce these stories.

I recall lying in bed with him and being utterly happy and content.  Life could not have been better.  For that one year, I was not a doctor or had to be defined. I was not distracted with email, texts and social media.   I had business cards printed with “Liam’s mum” on them. That was it.  It was/is my most important role.

What I would give to go back in time just to experience it all again.  I am fortunate to have had the opportunity, to have been in the right mind frame to enjoy the moment and not to have to worry about what anyone thought.  For that year, I was “just a mom” and it was magical.



What kind of balance do you need in life in regard to work and children?  Have you had time off with your children but would have wanted to work but couldn’t? Have you had to work but wanted time off with your children?



By the term “just a mom”, I am not minimizing the importance or judging those who are SAHM.  I have done a bit of everything: SAHM, WAHM  as well as worked part time and full time outside of the home.  I have and will always feel, that you should have the balance you need in your life that allows you to be the best mom whether you are SAHM, WAHM or work outside of the home.  It goes without saying that I also respect women’s decisions to choose to live without children as well.



6 years ago by in Health/Parenting | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
17 Comments to My Magical Year.
    • Jules44ca
    • I can so relate. During my pregnancy and once my son was born I was fortunate enough to have more than two years off and it was awesome. For me, becoming a mom was unexpectedly the easiest and most rewarding job I’d ever had. I’d seen so many of my girlfriends struggle with the transition. Women who had craved motherhood and babies (vs. I who resisted and feared it) did not have the support they needed or were not as ready as they thought. I loved my time off with him. We walked everywhere all the time (getting fresh air and excursive). We would visit friends. Get fresh groceries every day.

      Recently I have been fortunate enough to find a challenging role with an organization that respects family balance and mothers and feel even more blessed. The real cherry on top of all of it is a daycare my son loves going to. It took time, patience and perseverance, but it has all worked out beautifully.

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • It is always great to see you on the site offering your insight!  Thank you for your continued support!

        I was so happy to read that you too enjoyed time off with your son and now have found  balance between being a mom and work. I have an offer on the plate currently from a female physician that respects family balance and hope to be in this position again soon!

        • Jules44ca
        • I have to admit, I have been thinking about this all day. Finding balance is always tough and when I talk to moms who work outside the home, they are all looking for balance. They all stand over their children’s beds at the end of the day wondering if they did enough for their kids that day. Since starting work, I have committed to 3 things:

          1. Leave work on time everyday. Make sure that staying late is the exception and not the rule or expectation.
          2. Try not to rush the day away. Give myself and him lots of time. If he needs 10 minutes to put his shoes on, than that is what it takes. If he wants to walk to school and not be carried, then whatever time it takes.
          3. I spend the first half hour at home giving my son my undivided attention doing whatever he wants. Counting the stones on the sidewalk, exploring the inside of the car, watching a video…. whatever he wants. The groceries wait. The messages on my phone wait. Sometimes, dinner is a frozen pizza and I give myself that permission. One half hour for him.

          That is what is getting me through mommy guilt. It is the advice I offer other moms (and my husband).

          Rajka, I love your posts. They always make me think. I hope that you get the job you are offered … an you continue to post :-)  Good Luck.

          • Expat Doctor Mom
          • Aww, you have really made my day.  Your kind words mean so much!  One of the goals of my website was to create a community like the one I had in the office.  I am liking this community!

            And no mommy guilt for you!  Easier said than done I know!

          • Anna Tucker
          • Jules, what wonderful commitments to make, such fabulous advice. Firstly you talk about standing over your children’s beds wondering if they did enough…well I can confess to feeling that same thing and I AM at home, I work from home, but yet those thoughts still creep up on me. I love your points 2 & 3. Yes I believe the key is to allow yourself and them more time than you would normally. I find myself constantly assuming teeth won’t take more than x minutes and then I just get frustrated when it all takes longer….why do I not learn!?! As for giving undivided attention for that 1st half hour, it’s got to be worth every minute even if you can’t prepare a 5* meal for dinner. He will remember that special together time over the years. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

            • Expat Doctor Mom
            • Dear Anna

              I find it so very true that it is difficult to remind yourself that children need to do things at their own pace.  And when we are not in a hurry then all is well but if we need to get somewhere and the children take their usually amount of time… well then it can lead to frustration… which I don’t want to have happen but i does from time to time. 

              “Parenting would be easy if there weren’t other things that needed to get done in a day!”

    • Ilham Lucia
    • What a wonderful experience! I worked after my son was born but I so wanted to stay at home and had a very hard time going back to work. We moved to Doha 7 months ago and I am now a stay at home mom which I love. I find it difficult sometimes though to balance the huge amount of work required to keep up the house and spending time with my son and stepson. I still enjoy enormously the time we have together and probably will not go back to work until he and any others that may follow are in school. I hope as I continue to become more settled here that I can relax more and just enjoy the children!

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • I am so happy you are enjoying time off with your son and stepson.  It is an adjustment whenever you change.  I was very spoiled as we maintained the nanny after I quit thinking I would go back to work.

        However when my daughter was 1 we moved back to the USA and my husband’s job fell through. I stayed alone with the kids for almost 8 months.  I can’t tell you how many times our daughter said “Uppy mama!” and I would say after I finish dinner or after I clean up…   I started regretting not spending more time with the kids so I made set times where I just let the house work go and focused only the kids.  I would clean on Saturday nights after they were in bed. 

    • PragamticMom
    • I agree with you! I have never yet come across a person who regretted taking time off to be with their children including my husband who was the primary care giver for our oldest for her first year. It’s a trick to pull off as there are $ concerns but it’s well worth it!

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • That is great that your husband got to take time off as well.  We are contemplating having my husband off for awhile when we eventually return to the USA.  Agreed on how difficult it can be to pull off financially.  When our son was born, I had huge student loans (all at a high interest then!) not to mention that we were living in Chicago which added to the cost of living.

    • drrubin
    • I enjoyed reading your post. As a physician, I, too, took
      some time off from work when my children were young, and though I loved being
      home with them, I spent too much time feeling guilty that I should have been at
      work, that I was setting my career back by having that block of time forever on
      my CV. What a waste of time thinking that! It was easy to get back in the
      workforce as I had remained current on educational and licensing requirements.
      And now, like you, I wish so much I could go back in time for at least a day to
      experience those wonderful care-free days filled with hugs and games and cuddly

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • Dear Dr Rubin

        It is so nice to know that I am not alone.  For now, I have been off with our daughter who is now 3 and unlike the time off with our son, I too have fretted about remaining current despite like you keeping up on the requirements.  I wish I could be that carefree this time around as well.

        Slowly, I am reminding myself to savor before I go back into clinical work next month.

    • Teachginamaria
    • Thank you for writing this! Lately I feel that I have to explain myself and my decision to stay home. Often having to justify how I could “lose” myself in my girls. As a teacher, the choice was simple on so many levels. It didn’t make sense to leave my girls with someone else so that I could spend my days with other people’s children. When I am around friends who have continued on with their careers, I sense the boredom of the play doh conversation, the looming, how do you do that all day every day. I just smile knowing that for me, there is nothing more I would rather do.

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • It is so lovely to read your comment! I am pleased you too can relate to the play doh conversation. 

        Life is about choice and I wish everyone had the chance to make the choice that was right for them and their family.

      • drrubin
      • When I was home with my kids, I too felt like I had to explain myself. On one hand, society says parents should raise their own children, especially in the early years, and not entrust the job to others. On the other hand, there seems to be a bias against SAHMs, as if the identity makes them somehow less interesting or important. As a former SAHM and now back to work, I admire the mothers who have made the choice to continue to remain home with their children. And of course, we all know the phrase SAHM is a misnomer. Rarely are they home. I see these women running impressive book fairs and auctions and other events at my kids’ schools, bringing in skills from their past employment. Many hours they put in but receive no paycheck. I for one, am grateful!  

    • Anna Tucker
    • This is a beautiful piece of heart-felt writing Rajka, thank you and so relevant today. Having been fiercely ambitious in my 20s, where the thought of having children just wasn’t on the cards, I then spent my 30s rebelling the system somewhat, so much so that I spent 3 years in Africa volunteering wondering if I’d ever get married even, and yet I find myself today, just turned 40, married with 2 gorgeous children, 4 1/2 and 2 who have just turned my world upside down. My priorities fell into place little by little since my first was born. Being faced with the decision between going back into the corporate world for the salary, recognition, endless list… and being a SAHM, I have turned to what I call a “middle ground” and I so strongly believe it is the right way for me and that is to work from home so that even if I send the children to pre-school/nursery part time hrs, I am still there with them for hours in the morning and hours in the afternoon/evening. The hardest thing is obviously switching between the 2 roles in the house but I dedicate myself to sharing my time between the 2 roles and if that entails staying up into the early hours for work right now at this point in my life, that’s what I’m choosing to do. I am so desperately trying to heed those that tell you they are only little for so long, living in the present with them, right now, and I guess overall it is a kind of “magical” feeling. 

      • Expat Doctor Mom
      • Anna

        Your kind words mean so much to me!  Thank you!

        I completely agree with it being the hardest thing to switch between the two roles as everything I am doing is currently at home: website, writing for a magazine etc.  When I used to work outside of the home it was much easier to switch and turn off work.  Much more challenging now!

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