Published Work

Friendship Across a Religious Divide

Trailing after my 1-year-old wingman, I spotted a promising looking mom-and-child duo working the firetruck slide. She smiled at me and I went in for the opening. Thankfully, my eagerness wasn’t too off-putting, and our random playground encounter evolved into a friendship. Leigh and I were delighted to discover that we both had small kids, were both therapists, and found New England winters disagreeable. It didn’t occur to me to ask about her religion because who really cared?

Just a few weeks later we were watching our kids play and congratulating ourselves for finding each other when the conversation took an unexpected turn. Leigh said she didn’t think our meeting was a coincidence. “It was,” she told me, “God’s plan”. Um… what? (more…)

A Simple Way to Improve Communication With Your Partner

Communication—the blessing and the curse of most relationships. Words like “those pants are stunning on you” can bring peace and joy into your life; words like “we need to talk” can feel like a death sentence.

Because it’s so foundational to relationships, and because it’s so complicated to get it right, communication is among the most common of marital problems. It’s also the problem that couples often highlight when they first come into couples therapy. Couples therapy offers lots of specific strategies to tweak communication and this one is simple to get your head around, easy to implement, and has good returns on your effort investment. (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)