Testimonies shared at Women in the workforce Luncheon

Published 3:44 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

Wednesday afternoon, First National Bank in conjunction with the Bainbridge- Decatur County Chamber of Commerce held a women in the workforce luncheon, where Dr. Mary Beth Smith was the featured speaker.

Smith is a pediatrician at Memorial Pediatrics and focused her speech on the struggles and challenges women face while trying to balance work, motherhood and being a devoted spouse.

“We as women are pulled in a million different directions,” Smith began by saying.

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She explained it can often be difficult to wake up in the middle of the night and feed her child and then wake up and go to work, but being a pediatrician is her calling.

Smith said it is easy to feel guilty when being pulled away from her family on different holidays or weekends to go spend time with other children.

“Society expects us to be perfect wives, perfect mothers, fully here, fully there and we put guilt on ourselves when we aren’t living up to those perfect standards,” Smith said.

Some of the ways Smith said she has learned to cope with these standards is just by loving others and loving God. Smith said when she does this she truly feels the most fulfilled.

The standard of perfection shifts when actively pursuing God, Smith said.

“It’s not what the world wants from us, but it’s what can we do to please God,” Smith explained.

Smith’s desire to please God, instead of conforming to societal pressures is what makes waking up in the morning and putting extra hours in at the office all worth it. She said she believes God put the desire into her to become a pediatrician and knows if she is faithful to him, she will be faithful in her endeavors.

“I know I was called to be a mother, I was called to be a pediatrician and I know my Savior called me to do both of these things,” Smith said.

Being a mother can sometimes help Smith in ways she never imagined. She is more understanding of mothers who feel defeated and who have given it all they’ve got and never judges them. Smith recalls one of the most memorable moments during her five years working at Memorial Pediatrics. The memory had nothing to do with her training to be a pediatrician, but everything to do with being a mother.

The patient was a small child, who had been crying all night long. Her mother and grandmother brought her in, and Smith could tell they were fatigued and at their wits end. She examined the child, and found nothing wrong, but refused to send the crying baby home. Instead, she spent the next 30 minutes rocking the child to sleep, until she could see tears of joy flow down the mother and grandmother’s face.

While Smith loves success stories like this, being a pediatrician can be demanding at times.

Smith explains that because her job can be so demanding, it is important to be intentional with her time with family. She said she believes quality time is more important than quantity time. She not only makes conscious decisions on how to spend time with her children, but also makes an important effort to eat lunch once a week with her husband.

After speaking on how she juggles her time between the office and family time, Smith handed it over to four panelists, who were sharing some of their stories.

Sister -in -law, Allyson Whittaker, couldn’t contain her pride for Smith.

“Her speech described the struggles and challenges women who work face,” Whittaker said. “But the beautiful part of her speech is that she offered honest advice and encouragement in the struggle.”

Alesia Brinson was the first panelist to speak, and she spoke on how she began working with the mentoring program after seeing two girls who didn’t know their worth. Brinson helped the mentoring program at Hutto Middle School begin and stays actively involved.

Dr. Crycynthia Gardner spoke next and shared how she got involved in education. She was checking in on her son at school, when she saw a young lady on the bench, waiting outside the principal’s office. Gardner asked why the girl was there and was informed she had said some bad words. Gardner spoke with the girl and told her she was too beautiful and too smart to be saying ugly words like that. She explained how everyone makes mistakes, but it’s important to learn from them to be a better version of you. Gardner said before she knew it, the girl was crying and so were the faculty members. The girl gave Gardner her hair bow, as a token of her appreciation and Gardner has kept it with her always.

Dr. Lisa Martin, followed Gardner’s speech with a personal story of her own. Martin had trouble getting pregnant, but eventually had the children she always desired, but she said God laid it on her heart to be a foster parent. Martin now has six children under the age of nine in her home now. She feels extremely blessed and knows it was her calling.

Nichole Lee, FNP, was the final panelist of the afternoon and spoke on the sacrifices her mother made for her. Lee was raised by her mother and grandmother and her mother worked two jobs in order for Lee to go through medical school. Lee explained women can do anything they put their mind to, if they just have the drive.