Mindfulness

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…)

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…)

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…)

Love the Lives You’re In

Let’s assume you adore your kids. Not the detached kind of adore where you show off pictures at your reunion, or which finds you proclaiming them to be the sweetest of sleeping angels. I’m talking about the kind of adore that makes your heart expand with a mix of joy and love when your child firmly maintains that his shoes are on the right feet (they aren’t). The kind of adore which downgrades your fury to mild irritation when a singsong “I’m awa-aake!” rouses you at 5:00am on a Monday morning. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to be present and engaged with your singing alarm clock. (more…)

Rethinking the Whole Burrito

It’s Friday night, better known as Burrito Night in my household. I look forward to this night more than I should admit, but after a long week of working, parenting, and being compelled to wear pants that don’t have an elastic waist, I’m looking for comfort. I don’t generally do halfsies on dinner, so the giant meal in a soft tortilla package is mine. All mine. However, since I sometimes like to think of myself as a refined lady, I try to put away that gluttonous thought and replace it with a more moderate one: this burrito is enormous; I will eat only half and can then look forward to eating the rest of it tomorrow. The burrito is the size of a small dog, so this isn’t a crazy thought and it really shouldn’t be such a challenge.

But it is. In no time at all, I’ve hit the center of the burrito deliciousness. I don’t mean to be overly vivid, but it tastes so good and has such a warming and bolstering effect on my body that, simply put, I’d rather keep eating than stop. And herein lies my regular Friday challenge: do I follow the all-in path, or the more moderate one? (more…)