the she series: thoughts from a therapist

When I say Amanda is one of the most amazing women I know, I really mean it.

First of all, she has a masters in psychology, and I’m going to have to assume with how well I talk to her that she’s basically the best therapist out there right now. Smart and knows what makes people tick, check.

On the mom front, she spent an entire pregnancy dealing with extreme sickness and discomfort that was chalked up to “normal” pregnancy side effects. Around 8 months into her pregnancy doctors finally realized she also had a brain tumor, and within a couple days she found herself having a c-section and brain surgery back-to-back. She barely got to see her baby at the hospital, didn’t get to take him home, and she needed assistance to care for him in the first couple of months.

On a personal level, I’ve known she was awesome since elementary school. At one point we had those best friend heart necklaces that split in two. And I’ll always remember the time she did a flip from the monkey bars, and basically belly-flopped on the ground, because I may or may not have explained a trick wrong.

Plus she’s lived in New York and loved it, and I still sometimes dream that one day she’ll move back so we can resume monthly breakfasts together (and talk about her fascinating love for Britney).

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Moms & Dads

In an ideal world, every kid would be raised by two parents and feel very secure and loved and all of that. But most of our world isn’t very ideal.

I’ve seen kids do amazingly well in “non-traditional” families. And I’ve seen kids do amazingly awful in traditional families. (I was an adolescent therapist for almost a decade, so I do have some experience in this arena.) But, I do know that kids who have two parents AND have those parents available to them – emotionally and physically – tend to do better than kids who don’t. But I suppose that’s the key – having your parent(s) available to you emotionally and physically. Because whether you have one or two (male or female), if they aren’t really there – it doesn’t matter.

For me, motherhood is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t become a mom until I was almost 32, and it was very hard for me to lose my independence and suddenly structure everything around a very tiny dictator. I had always wanted to be a mom, so it somewhat surprised me that I was fairly emotionally unprepared for how difficult the transition was. I did have a pretty unconventional pregnancy/birth/recovery period (brain surgery and all of that), but I think it would have been hard regardless.

Three years into motherhood it can still be hard, but it doesn’t feel as taxing as it used to. I’m still not convinced I excel at this, but it feels like the right place for me to be. Also, I believe good mothers are essential to our society.

Furthering Education

In my socioeconomic status and culture, I think more education is ALWAYS a good thing – male or female. My dad always told me that college wasn’t necessarily about getting a job, but it was about learning how to think in different ways. I had the privilege of having some help with my college costs, so I could attend college and grad school, but not everyone has that privilege. Some people get into massive debt and college ends up being a very bad decision for them. In an ideal world though, I think college is the best idea.

Being Female

I never noticed being treated differently until I was an adult. Looking back, I had several religious leaders tell me I shouldn’t go to grad school because “guys don’t want to marry women smarter than them.” There are also the random things I’ve experienced as an adult, like having salespeople give me higher price quotes than my husband.

I think the messages that women get from society can make life pretty hard in general. Especially when so many things conflict: be demure and be assertive, be caring and be selfish, dress feminine but not too feminine, find a man but be independent, and on and on. And there is such a heavy emphasis on looks, which is the exact opposite of how I try and interact with people. And I’m not saying these are issues that only impact women, but it seems those messages are out there more for women.

If I had to pick an insecurity, it would probably be my body. I’m overweight and that gets a lot of judgment. I’ve tried to make peace with my body, but our culture doesn’t make it easy. That said, I don’t think I’d want to trade places (or problems) with anyone else. Being a therapist means I know that EVERYONE has crap in life. Although, there are some people where I would take the Instagram version of their life in a heartbeat.

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3 thoughts on “the she series: thoughts from a therapist

  1. What a thoughtful evaluation of so many elements of your life.
    Childrearing is such a diverse and challenging set of thoughts and processes. I have worked with hundreds of households whether through admissions counseling or tutoring, and each one is so different, with their own measured levels of success. However, taking the time to reflect is a great first step in the right direction!

    http://www.nynomads.com
    Living sustainably on $100/week in NYC

  2. Love your perspective:). You are very wise! I can say this because I’ve known you for quite some time, you have such a fun personality! I’m always happy just being around you and whenever I read you FB reflections. 😃. My admiration for you abounds knowing all the many challenges you’ve faced and still you keep a great attitude!

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