Latest Posts

When You’re On Maternity Leave, Ambition’s a Pain in the Ass

The battle between two competing desires—the desire to achieve and the desire to engage with loved ones—rages within many working parents. But on my recent maternity leave, I hoped I might get a reprieve. After all, I’m not just a mommy (a few times over), I’m also a credentialed psychologist specializing in the treatment of new parents.

Yep, I naively expected my third maternity leave would be smooth, psychologically and otherwise. Yet my reality turned out just like that of every ambitious parent in love with their delightful young children: I’m spit-stained, dog-tired, and faced with a barrage of conflicted thoughts and feelings about who I am as a mother and professional. (more…)

The Working Parent and Too Much Choice

Working parents blessed with flexible jobs have it all… but the “all” that they have comes with never-ending choices between prioritizing one role over another role. Why is having flexibility so stinking hard and what can we do about it?

The classic working parent’s quandary: realization hits late. You have an important work meeting the following afternoon…and your kid’s fall play. Torn up, you fantasize declaring that you can’t make either engagement. Maybe you’ll head to Target to peruse the latest seasonal décor instead. But with maturity—and awareness that you’d probably get caught ogling a tufted pillow—you quickly put that thought away. (more…)

Including Scale-Backers in the Conversation About Women and Work

The Atlantic recently published a seven-part series exploring what happens to women’s ambition after college. By virtue of their attendance at Northwestern University (a raised eyebrow here, but… ok) the interviewees were all identified as ambitious women. The women followed similar trajectories of pursuing ambitious professional paths after graduation from college, but once children arrived the women’s paths diverged.

Three unique pathways were identified among these women. First, high achievers remained focused on careers after children. In order to remain successful, they were likely to deputize a chunk of the parenting responsibilities; in so doing were able to stay highly successful in the workplace while having families. (more…)

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…)