This Sunday, mothers (and motherly figures) will be celebrated during the annual day set aside to honor and give thanks for them. But for one Heights-area mother and daughter, it will be a day like any other.
Just down the road from Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, Dr. Heena Thakkar and Dr. Shilpa Pankaj are the mother/daughter team behind Peekaboo Pediatrics off West 27th Street. Dr. Thakkar has been serving the Heights area since 1975, with her daughter joining her practice in 2009 — and both say the experience has been one to remember.
“I always knew that I wanted to practice medicine – from a young age I loved science, and knew that I wanted to be a doctor. I mean, I grew up in the office we practice in!” Pankaj said. “But as a teenager, I never thought I would do exactly what my mom does.”
Surprisingly to herself, Pankaj said she found such unexplainable joy during medical rounds at the University of Pennsylvania that when the time came to choose her path, there truly was no other option.
“As I went to medical school, I fell in love with pediatrics, taking care of children and being a part of patients’ families,” she said.
However, Pankaj still had not entertained much thought of returning to Texas once she left for college in Philadelphia – but everything changed when her father passed away. After returning home, and in the wake of her father’s passing, she found the overwhelming urge to return to her roots – opening up a whole new world for herself and her mother’s already-close relationship.
“With the combination of loving my training in pediatrics and wanting to stay close to home, it was a natural decision,” she said. “I was a bit resistant, but I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity [to join my mom]. I feel now I was destined to do this despite it being a surprise to myself.”
So, Pankaj asked Thakkar, and Peekaboo Pediatrics – affiliated with Memorial Hermann Greater Heights – to join the practice almost nine years ago, much to the surprise of her mother.
“When she asked if she could join me [in Houston], my God that was the best blessing and dream I could have ever thought of,” Thakkar remembers upon hearing her only daughter would join her in the Heights. “And now, here we are!”
Thakkar and Peekaboo Pediatrics has served the Heights since 1975, building a long-standing reputation in the area; and the gift of knowing she can pass on the practice to her daughter is one of the greatest gifts she could ever have, Mother’s Day and beyond.
“It’s such a blessing to know my practice will be taken over by the one closest to me and that I can pass it on to the next generation.
It’s the best I could have,” she said. “I know my husband would be proud of us working together.”
Likewise, Pankaj knows to not take for granted the moments she has with her mother, even beyond that one celebrated day out of each year.
“Just being able to see my mom every day and having her be a part of my professional life as well as my kids’ lives is amazing,” she said. “Starting out as a young physician, you have a lot of hesitation about your ability to be independent without teachers, mentors and secondary trainers that can always be there watching. Knowing I could always ask my mom a question without judgment or fear is a blessing.
“There were countless times I remember asking her about certain procedures; sometimes I still do it. It’s been wonderful having a mentor I don’t feel intimidated asking questions to.”
Given how her life has transpired, Pankaj needs no extra motivation or the special day to give thanks for her mother; and she now has the opportunity to do so each new day.