Dr. Myers On Being A Mom
Like many of you, I chose to be a mother. It was one of the best decisions of my life and out of all my titles—MD, Medical Director, CEO, New York Times best-selling author— the title “mother” is the one that I cherish and value the most. Also like most of you, I celebrate my mom and the many other women in my family who nurtured me, on the second Sunday of every May. Although most of these women—including my beloved mother—are no longer with me physically, their impact on me is on my mind as I celebrate my fourth Mother’s Day as a mom.
In March 2017, my husband Xavier and I traveled to Wisconsin to finalize the adoption of our daughter, Elle. We spent 3 weeks holed up in a hotel room in the freezing cold and snow. It was a crazy time for us Southerners! Finally, the time came to begin our real lives as a family. Xavier drove the 18 hours all the way home on his own, while Elle and I went to the O’Hare airport to fly to Texas.
I was alone with Elle for the first time. I’m sure many of you also remember this milestone as clearly as the day it happened. I was terrified and excited. Being a doctor doesn’t make you immune to the anxiety that comes with being a mother. I was so frightened that she would get sick in the airport that I had a muslin cover over her baby carrier. However, that made it very difficult to see her. And she was so quiet that I worried she wasn’t breathing.
I had strapped her into the seat next to mine. Still, I couldn’t hear her at all and I didn’t want to raise the muslin. So while Elle (a great traveler right from the start!) slept through the flight, I sat up in my seat with my hand on her chest, so I could feel her breathing. It may not have been the most comfortable flight I have taken, however, I didn’t care! I was totally in love.
What I Learned from my “Moms”
I’ve been fortunate enough to have more than one “Mom” in my life, and they were all incredibly courageous, well-educated women. My mom had two master’s degrees, one of which was in art history. She was also very creative: she was an artist, fashion designer, and an architect. Despite our differences, I’m thankful for all the ways that we are similar—my mom was a force of nature and I like to think I am too!
My extended family of my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my aunts all played a significant role in my life. They all lived near my mom and me (my great-grandmother even lived in the same apartment building), and we were all very close. My great-grandmother was really something special. She went to college, had a job, and she was brave enough to get a divorce in the early 1900s. She raised my grandmother, who had a master’s degree in English in the mid-1900s. These were the women I was raised with: strong, nurturing women who valued education and making a difference. They were incredible role models.
Passing it Forward
I chose medicine as a profession because caring for people and helping them is a part of my nature. I want to make their lives better. That’s what I want to do for Elle, too. Although I am the CEO and founder of a company that empowers hundreds of thousands of people, and I can’t always spend as much time as I would like with her, I make sure the hours we are together are focused on her alone so that I can help her grow and learn, and become a strong, compassionate young woman when she grows up. I actively make that time to show her how important she is and help her grow into a confident woman. I am trying to parent as my parents taught me, and there are many things I want to share with Elle that my mom shared with me.
My mom and I gardened together. I remember growing sprouts and all kinds of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. For Elle’s second birthday, I gave her an herb garden kit, watering can and gardening tools. I like to think that this will help her appreciate the good foods that help our bodies grow and thrive. I think it’s working too! Elle eats exactly what Xavier and I eat. It’s great to see her eating vegetables, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, and berries, fruit, and coconut yogurt. On her 2nd birthday, I offered her one of her homemade gluten-free and dairy-free cupcakes however she claimed she did not like and didn’t eat it.
Elle helps me in the kitchen, which reminds me of how I would help my mom make homemade bread and yogurt when I was a child. I love that I’m able to share the experience of cooking and baking with Elle as well. Being in the kitchen, and loving healthy food, and making smoothies together—these are things I want Elle to remember when she grows up.
I also want to encourage her love of books. Elle loves to read! My mom and dad read to me every night, and nothing makes me smile more than seeing Elle with all of her books. She has so many! She just carries them around, and then we’ll read them together. Our nighttime routine is taking a bath, brushing our teeth, and reading three books. Reading was really big in my family, and I’m glad that’s something Elle can be excited about.
Travel & Dreaming Big
I believe this a big part of her day-to-day upbringing. We’ve been able to travel and see the beautiful world around us. Elle has been to New Zealand and Australia and seen all kinds of animals in the wild. She’s just beginning to understand that there are differences from one place to another. My aim is to create a strong, independent young woman by exposing her to the world at large and letting her see all the amazing places she can go.
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so my mom and I were not able to do some of the fun “girly-girl” things that moms and daughters often do. I’m really looking forward to spending time with Elle at the spa or going shopping together. These might sound a little cliché, but I believe they become important memories for mothers and daughters. I can imagine that if my mom were still here, she’d want to be with Elle and me, getting our nails done, and celebrating the amazing women we’ve become.
With Thanks and Gratitude
So much has happened in my life, and a lot has changed since I became a mother. I’m looking forward to all the years of motherhood to come. Right now, I’m happy to have this time with Elle and do all that I can to set a good example for her. This special day really makes me stop and think about all the moms in the world. It’s so much more than biology—it’s all the women who care for their families, for other people’s children, for each other, and for our world.
I’m wishing a fabulous day to all of you who care for others, and sending gratitude to all our mothers near and far, present and departed. Where would we be without our wonderful moms and mom-figures?
Happy Mother’s Day!