As a therapist, I have to always be conscious of countertransference. Over identifying is a caution we learned about in grad school, and during sessions I make sure to catch myself and keep it in check. Fighting with your spouse? Yep, been there. Concerned about your children? Always. Just plain hard on yourself? Often. The one that really gets me, though, is the working mom guilt. Gratefully, I have been able to keep it clinical and professional in my office. It’s those times when I read the chapter in Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In called “The Myth of Having it All” where I find myself nodding and saying “Yes, me too”. I think the last time I did that was when I had a fussy infant and I read Dr. Weissbluth’s (aka the sleep doctor) book.
These working mom books, articles, and blogs are coming up more frequently. My friend just sent me the link to this article in the New York Times, http://nyti.ms/15H4VL8, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” by Judith Warner. Originally I thought I’d post the article on my Facebook professional page (www.facebook.com/lynnrzakerilcsw) and share it with those interested. But once I read it, there I went, nodding, underlining and thinking about how it pertains to me. I went from working at a school, to working at a school and beginning a private clinical practice, to cutting back at the school and doing school and private practice 50/50, and the past five years I have been full-time private practice. In my vision, that meant part-time therapist and part-time stay-at-home-mom. In reality, it is full time both.
Judith Warner talks about educated, professional women who stay home with their kids and all the “others” that come with that (keeping house, organizing birthday parties and other activities, and planning meals). But she also found that oftentimes these women are so used to being busy and productive that throwing themselves into PTAs and soccer schedules is coming up short on their fulfillment stick.
There is an old quote by Caitlin Flanigan “when a mother works, something is lost” but Judith Warner also found that 75% of Americans agree with the statement that a working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work. I believe this statement. In fact, I believe there is a very short period of quality time needed with your child to have a satisfying quality relationship. I just need to practice what I preach, let go of the working mom guilt, and continue to nod along with these statements.