I fancy myself a planner extraordinaire. If you look at my fridge, you will find a very detailed schedule indicating who is responsible for dinner on which nights, who is scheduled to be home to relieve the sitter, and who is doing ballet drop-offs for the month of May. My stay-at-home mom friends look at this and laugh till their eyes well up. Everything in my life is scheduled.

Before I had babies, I truly believed that my ability to keep all the pieces of my life moving in harmony was a skill that would save me from the chaos I often witnessed in other households with working moms. And, to some extent, it has. What I didn’t brace myself for, however, is the fact that when you have kids, it doesn’t matter how well you plan because your life is in a constant state of flux. Add to this the challenges of building a career and you have all the makings a very hectic life.

For some, I’m sure this does not sound like any fun at all. But for me, and for the numerous wildly successful female O.D.s that I interviewed for this month’s feature story, “Having It All,” life would be less rich were there not so much chaos and commotion.

“Kids just do and say funny things, and seeing life through their eyes can often open up our world in any situation,” says Jennifer Smythe, O.D., M.S., who is not only a mother of three, she is also Dean of Pacific University College of Optometry.

Dr. Smythe started optometry school with a 9-month-old daughter and was nine months pregnant with her second child at graduation. Excelling in optometry school was difficult with a young child at home, as was building a successful career. But Dr. Smythe says she never thought about a glass ceiling and advises other O.D.s that obstacles are often of our own making. So, she says, if you want something, go for it.  

As you know, the majority of optometry graduates are female, and as such, many of our future O.D.s will have to make some tough decisions in the years ahead—if they haven’t made them already. My hope is that the women you’ll meet in “Having It All” will serve as role models by inspiring you, empowering you and making you laugh as you stumble along with them through life as a working mom.