A Tale of Wearing 2 Hats: Dental Hygienist and Single Mom
Stephanie A. Pajot, RDH, BS
From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mother. By age 19, I decided to pursue a career in dental hygiene, and over 20 years later I still love my profession. One thing I didn't anticipate was that I would one day be a single parent, and I'm sure anyone in a similar situation would agree. I'm now three years into single motherhood, and my two sons continue to amaze me daily at ages 10 and 12. Life just looks a little different than what I had pictured decades ago in college.
The COVID-19 pandemic added an extra twist when my children needed a teacher at home, and I was unable to work remotely. That didn't stop my younger son from suggesting that patients come to our home instead of the dental office. In his mind, we would simply put a dental chair under a tent in our yard, so that I could help him with his classwork simultaneously. Although creative and hilarious, that plan wasn't exactly a feasible option. I learned to network in my community, and thankfully I found the perfect helpers to care for and teach my children while I provided patient care.
The biggest lesson I have learned is that it takes a village to make it all work, and it starts with me. I strive to be organized, to anticipate obstacles, to be flexible, and to ask for help when I need it. I drive past many dental offices to work for a practice farther away, one that accommodates the needs of my family. My employer supports my priority of making sure my children get to every practice, every game, and every tutoring appointment. In return, he knows he can trust my ability to provide excellent patient care in his practice.
It is imperative to surround yourself with people you have confidence in and who offer reciprocal respect. Know your worth and own it. It's never wise to be the smartest in the room. Take notice of the mentors around you, whether they are colleagues or parents. I learn from them regularly in hopes of becoming a better me tomorrow. Balancing it all is a beautiful kind of chaos, and I am just enjoying the journey!
About the Author
Stephanie A. Pajot, RDH, BS, is a practicing dental hygienist at Smile Creator of Bingham Farms in Bingham Farms, Michigan.