The stress lines on my mom’s face tell the story.
The 50-year-old mother of four boys has spent 25 years in the medical field, working as an OB/GYN. She has battled lawsuits, worked hundreds of 36-hour shifts, been the chief resident at UNC Hospitals and worked 110-hour work weeks while pregnant.
Despite all of this, she still comes home to a house filled with kids, dogs and mysterious substances on the walls. And smiles.
Most doctors, especially those at the top of their field, do not choose the middle of their careers to start having kids every other year. Most mothers do not attempt to work back-to-back call shifts before going to a weekend soccer tournament.
My mother is not most.
Amateur feature writers throw around this cliché as much as the non-scientific community throws around the term genius. However, there is not another way to describe the work my mom does as anything other than “not like most.” She is one of the few instances where that cliché actually applies.
She started at UNC Hospitals in 1991, which is why my parents moved to North Carolina and why my brothers and I were all born and spent our lives in here. Her residency class for her specialty was 15 men and two women — the other woman quit when she got pregnant in her first year.
My father, who is very successful now, did not have a job for the first four years he lived in North Carolina, leaving my mother as the only breadwinner when she was making less than three dollars an hour as a resident and was also pregnant for the first time. She has an incredible amount of respect from everyone she meets, especially her kids (and yes, I’m saying that I am, as a 20-year-old fully grown man, respectfully scared of my mother and what would happen if I got in trouble).
I respect my mother for many of the things listed above: the balance of kids and an incredibly taxing job, her work ethic, her loyalty to my father. But what I admire is completely different.
I admire her sanity. My brothers and I have driven away more babysitters than I care to admit. My mother has been brought to court four different times for malpractice and never wavered in her principles. Her own parents, who are divorced and have remarried, have caused relative chaos within our family due to their egotistical rants about nothing in particular (old people I guess). Any one of these things can fracture someone’s psyche — for Cindy Saacks, they are seen as obstacles which she knows she will hurdle.
She talks a lot about retiring — how she will still wake up through the night expecting to need to deliver a baby, how all of our college tuitions aren’t going to let her retire — but never mentions her actual plans. I think it’s because through all of the craziness and stress that accompanies her life, my mother wouldn’t want any other life or family or job.
Which works out great for me, because I wouldn’t want any other mom.