Latest Posts

Daily Woes and World Tragedy

Since I live it and write about it, I spend a lot of my time thinking about the work-family dilemma. I started down the road of writing about my own work-family balancing challenges in 2014 when I wrote an essay and submitted it to The New York Times. After it was published, I enjoyed the fame of being a NYT essayist… until I started reading the comments section. Quite a few readers didn’t appreciate my serious take on my serious dilemma. Ok, ok, they slammed me for being an arrogant, self-important, egotistical, over-educated, middle class woman with oodles of options who was whining about what she couldn’t have when she had so much more than most people do.

It was hard not to feel defensive in reading those comments. And it was hard not to admit there was some truth in their reading. (more…)

What’s in Your Balloon?

As the mother of a one-month old, I’m awake in the middle of the night a lot. Sometimes I have about enough brain power to check Facebook, sometimes I’ll do crossword puzzles (I’m convinced that, like fluency in a foreign language after a few glasses of wine, crossword skill increases with fatigue). Sometimes my thoughts simply wander here and there.

Last night’s topic of mid-night intrigue–I could have relished my first child so much more if I had the relaxed attitude of having my third. Also, I could definitely enjoy this third delicious babe if I wasn’t so exhausted by his older brothers. (more…)

The Unsatisfying Search for the Experts with All the Answers

My degree, professional titles, and the shingle hanging outside my office all proclaim my authority on matters of the mind and heart (at least in the therapy room). But there are moments in that treatment setting where this thought appears: oh boy, this person could really use some wise counsel. Then I remember—it’s me who has been tapped to fill the “wise counsel” role. So I put on my most authoritative face and lead the way forward.

Pundit and columnist David Brooks writes: “I’m paid to be a narcissist blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am, to appear smarter than I really am, to appear better and more authoritative than I really am.” (more…)

Working Parents Dilemma: Part-Time Hours, Full-Time Ambition

My phone-in meeting with research colleagues has started late and I am pushing the limits of my son’s extended preschool day. My child will be the last one picked up, and I am about to seriously irritate the teachers who are itching to go home.

Here’s where I reveal myself to my colleagues, my childcare providers, and my child: I fall short of what most people expect from me as an ambitious professional and a committed parent. (more…)

It’s All About Values

It’s hard not to feel envious of those who are lucky enough to work at Patagonia–the company takes an approach that doesn’t simply throw money at a problem, but instead deeply considers what ambitious working parents need to stay committed to both professional life and parenthood. And the company recognizes that by valuing both worlds, they can better retain some of their best talent. Not many companies can do what Patagonia is doing, so most of us will have to envy on, but it’s nice to see a model company where both ambition and caregiving are respected endeavors. (more…)

A Mother’s Ambitions

Ambition and greatness looks different for professionals who dial back after having children. This essay, published in The New York Times set me on a path to explore this issue in greater depth.

“If I’m lucky, I might have as long as two hours to work. I riffle through the stack of research articles on substance use, pull out a few relevant ones, and begin revising my paper’s introduction. I’ve just gotten in the groove when a sweet singsong voice drifts over from the room next door: “Mommy, I have to go to the baaaa-throom!” (more…)

Annoying Offspring? You’re Not Alone.

After a regular workday, Sarah would return home with hopes of a peaceful evening connecting with her adorable 2-year-old daughter. But Sarah’s fantasy of an evening of delicious snuggles and shared giggles always seemed to crash into her reality: a child-shaped necklace who demanded her full engagement and didn’t realize (or care) that what Sarah longed to do was to turn her brain off and relax.

Sarah would find herself furtively and frequently checking the clock to see how long it was before it was until her daughter’s bedtime so she could have a moment to herself. Sarah laughed as she told me: “she sucks all the air out of any room she’s in. She’s just… annoying.” And then Sarah got quiet. “I shouldn’t feel that way, should I?” (more…)

“Obviously, I should have gotten some rest sooner:” How we can all avoid hitting the wall

It was after midnight and I couldn’t breathe through my nose thanks to a nasty head cold that had made itself at home in my sinuses.In addition to my labored breathing, I was experiencing the exhaustion that comes with having two young children, being eight months pregnant, and carrying my various professional responsibilities.

I could taste the sweet victory of the bragging rights that would be mine when I showed up for work the next day… (more…)

September Dreaming…

September is a joyous time of year for the 39 million American families with two employed parents. With a summer of fractured childcare in the rearview mirror, we breathe a sigh of relief to be able to resume a better balance of family and work life. But just as we feel ourselves starting to relax, it hits us: the school calendar has a slower start than we hoped for, then gets punctured with various “vacations” that go unrecognized by most employers. Then there will be winter holidays and unanticipated snow days, spring vacations. Then summer again. September relief… not so much.

In truth, it isn’t just families with the under-five’s who struggle with locating sufficient childcare to make the professional-family life balance viable. It’s a much lengthier struggle than most politicians or policymakers will acknowledge. (more…)