In the Car With My Mom - Annals of Internal Medicine: Fresh Look Blog


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the Car With My Mom

I picked up a cup of coffee for myself and was trying to catch up on the tasks that pop up in my EMR when I took a pause to open up the latest e-mail from Annals. A title made me smile: “In the Car With My Daughter” (1). At that moment, life was bogging me down. The blessings in my life—health, family, career—were there, but I was still feeling down that day. My mom had given me a solid pep talk the night prior. “Remember how you used to be in the car when you were in high school, so confident, so excited, so ambitious. When you feel down, put yourself back in those moments.”

Those moments in the car with my mom growing up are some of my fondest memories. Like most folks who end up going into medicine, I was your average overextended kid, by choice. After school, there was Youth Court, Mock Trial (I dabbled in the fake legal system as a kid), tennis lessons, orthodontist appointments, hospital volunteering, work at the local pediatrician’s office. All of these places were scattered throughout town, and I didn’t have a driver’s license until I was 17. Even if I did, I shared a car with my parents. So the person who drove me to and from all of these activities was my mom.

Dr. Lamp writes in her piece:
Are we all waiting
Until stricken down
Like the bugs?
I tell her, yes
But it makes life
No less sweet
To savor the flight
Before the impact.

Lamp is no doubt savoring those moments with her daughter as well. Those moments between mothers and their children build them up for the rest of their lives. Those are moments, when in the darkness, one can look back and find the light again. It was in those moments when my mom shared her life experiences. In one, she said to me, “Fatima, you’re hard-working and you care about people. If you did become a doctor, I think your patients would be happy.” It was in that moment that medicine was defined to be not just by science but by humanity. That ultimately medicine is about the experience of being human, and as a physician, I help facilitate that experience. Those moments ended up defining how I view this profession for myself.

I never spoke with my mom about how much I loved those moments and how often I think of them. Between working, advocacy, writing, thinking of the grocery list, and managing a household and personal relationships, life can be beautiful, but it also can be hard. I miss the simplicity of those moments in the car. It wasn’t until my mom referred to those drives, which haven’t happened in the same way in 15 years, did I realize that they had an impact on her too.

I have a son of my own now, whose observations of the world are with laughter, whining, smiling, and crying at 14 months. It isn’t lost on me how short these moments we have together really are. I already love our drives together.

  1. Lamp L. In the car with my daughter. Ann Intern Med. 2019;170:900. [PMID: 31207639] doi:10.7326/M19-0238

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