Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Checklist Mom-ifesto

Whenever I'm questioned about my seemingly odd organization of my career, I like to remind the questioner that I've left politics, but not the issues that brought me to the field in the first place. Changing gears so abruptly (leaving a vice presidency in a political advertising to help manage a health research program) did leave me a little out of sorts for awhile as I tried to learn the lingo and get used to the pace of research.

But, I feel like I'm hitting my stride. It's been a good week at work - my boss really liked a plan I developed for some new ideas, my hard work in maintaining and marketing our blog (no, not this one) has yielded really impressive results (the past 30 days had 572% more visitors than the same time frame in 2009) and everything is under control and moving forward. It's been a good week at home, too. Chloe and I have had a lot of "Mommy and Me" time. She's so happy and full of love. The Hubs and I are taking such delight in her... and in trying for a sibling for her (keep fingers crossed). I'm busy and I'm tired and I sometimes want to just run to a coffee shop and never come back, but for the most part, I look around and I feel at peace and happy and inspired to keep trying to do things that are just out of reach.

Anyway, what's with the funky title to this post? Speaking of hitting my stride at work, I have to say that I have become completely obsessed with patient safety issues... so I have yet to start the newest Stephen King (shocker) to finish The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (so awesome, everyone go read)... and I was thinking about something I read on a patient safety list serv the other day where someone asked about Gawande's and Peter Pronovost's work with checklists and asked "Is it really just a checklist?" In his book, Gawande explains that it's not just checking off boxes - it's asking questions, it's assessing if your workspace (whether it be operating room or cockpit or whatever) is set up the way you need for maximum efficiency and success, it's making sure your bases are covered... and it's changing the checklist if it doesn't fit in your institution and coming up with what DOES.

And then it hit me: we could assume that moms who do it differently than us have just adapted the "Mom" checklist to work best in their family and home. Because, I have to tell you, it's so disheartening to have a kick ass week at work and then get on the internet and read people judging others who do it differently. The interwebs are rife with people talking disparagingly about women with careers and about how they made the important choice to stay home because their kid is the most important thing in their life and so they stay home. With their kid. Because that's what good moms do.

So, here's the thing - that IS what some good moms do. And other good moms work full time outside the home. And other good moms work part time outside the home. And still others can't decide which is best for them and so they try different things.

So, here's my professional opinion: stick the judgment in a drawer and go consult your own damn checklists. Heh.

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