Some things are almost too good to be true. In this category I would place, most improbably, the dental practice that I have frequented for more years than I can remember.
Into an adorable russet red triple decker in Cambridge, MA, drifts a constant flow of clients from nearby Porter Square (hence its name: Porter Square Family Dental). We come to be treated by one of the three sisters, who all happen to be dentists.
If this were fiction, you’d call it a fairy tale. Instead, it is the very real, creative, and enviable model for three highly able women who, when they were just starting out, wanted to maintain their profession while keeping the life balances that would enable them to raise young families, and in time expand to satellite practices in the western suburbs.
All three graduated Tufts Dental School. They pooled their resources to purchase a practice from the estate of a recently-deceased, beloved local dentist.
They carved up the four-day work schedule (Fridays are off for everyone, staff included). Each one of them worked two days in the beginning. They covered for each other, shared the emergency calls, had their children, and quickly won over the loyalty of happy clients.
In time, schedules have shifted, depending on the needs of each sister, but the fundamental concept has remained.
It isn’t a model that can work for every walk of life, certainly. But this little gem of a practice suggests the innovative work arrangements that sisterhood can make possible. It is a family business in the best sense of the word. And it makes me wonder how others, reading their story, might imagine new possibilities in their own worlds.
I learned the power of collaboration, of women “having my back” and easing the way, during my undergraduate years at a women’s college. Strong women, all looking forward with the same ideals of effort and excellence, elevated all of us. Collectively, we were so much more than we ever could have been alone.
Now that I am older, I realize how many of our important “wisdom” stories affirm this experience — the sisters, Mary and Martha, the meeting of Elizabeth and Mary, the loyalty of Naomi to Ruth, or the resourcefulness of the wives of Jacob.
Even when successful women seem to be operating solo, there are many others in the wings, who have taken them seriously, cheered them on, helped them navigate challenges, picked them up when they stumbled, raised a glass of champagne when they pulled it off.
Women know that this support is the building block of all creativity – whether in our businesses, our family lives, or our art.
This is a good week to consider our many sisters – biological and spiritual – who sustain and inspire us. Thank them, even if you can only do so in your hearts.
I am sure that I am in a fairly group of those who actually look forward to visiting the dentist. Pictures of beautiful children hang in the examining rooms, good magazines await in the waiting room tables, serene music drifts through the rooms. There’s nothing frenzied or crowded or hurried about the experience.
What a lovely way to live each day of one’s working life! It is just what the sisters wanted to achieve, for themselves and for all who walk through their door.
Surely, sisterhood makes the world a more creative place, thanks to women’s organizational skills, our inventiveness, and our talents.