Successful Women Walking the Tightrope between Motherhood and Career – What Helps? What Hurts? A Psychoanalyst Speaks Out

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How do women measure success? Is it by mothering and having a career? How do they carry out both forms of work to their satisfaction? What helps? What hurts?

This is a weekly series about successful women who participate in the workforce in a range of ways building their careers while mothering. These women fly under the radar of the media but need to be heard. They are silently successful and warrant recognition.

They are compassionate, persistently hardworking women who deserve our admiration and offer advice to new mothers. Each week I will spotlight a different remarkable woman.

Interview Marie headshot (1)

Listen to Marie Oppedisano, Ph.D. mother of three and psychoanalyst talk about the biggest stressors on her:

“We really can’t have it all; we can only do our best! Knowing that helps with the guilt that is just a natural part of motherhood. The most difficult, stressful times happened when a child was ill. If they needed to go to the doctor on a semi emergency basis and I had office hours, we could get a bit frantic. Fortunately, my husband had some flexibility and would be able to get home to take them. I’d make the appointment and he’d get them there.”

“Another stressor was when my nanny would not show up, which would generally happen on a Monday morning without notice. Again my husband would have to cover until we could get a replacement. It helped that he had a job that paid him for days off. Things could be stressful but we really had to be organized and work together.”
Dr. Oppedisano honestly shared some of her regrets:

“I love to cook and that’s one area where I regret not being able to do it more often for my kids and not having a dinner with the family during the week. That I regret.
I missed a lot of games and after school events. That’s another regret. When my kids were little, before they went to nursery school, I would take them out to lunch with me every day, just to spend time with them. I also took one day off a week to spend more time with them. I also had to count on non-working moms to do some of the driving to certain lessons and such.”

While multiple emotions as these stressors and even regrets took their toll, Marie’s career soared. She loved her clinical practice, carried out research at a local hospital, was invested in psychological organizations, and continued to learn with postdoctoral training as her practice bloomed.

She expressed her feelings about her work:

“I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a wife and mother and tried to select a profession which allowed me to work and accomplish that goal simultaneously…. I picked psychology and got a doctorate with the thought in mind that having a private practice and working from home would be ideal for raising children… I enjoy my work immensely and feel I am able to make a contribution that helps to make the lives of others more comfortable.”

“Seeing my children happy and successful is the greatest joy of all, however. Just this year, having a first grandchild, brought even more joy into our lives! No, you can’t have it all, but I’ve been lucky to have as close to it as I ever could have hoped for!”

After decades of working as a psychologist and mothering, her advice to other women is:

“Understand that you will always feel conflicted and want to be in two places at once and that’s the name of the game! We really can’t have it all; we can only do our best! Knowing that helps with the guilt that is just a natural part of motherhood.

My best advice is to accept that motherhood is difficult no matter what but it goes fast and it’s good to have a satisfying career at the end of the day!”

Marie seems to be unusual in knowing what she wanted at a young age and creating a plan to achieve it. Many mothers aren’t as clear when they are young and change jobs often as they have their babies. Marie also had a devoted husband who seemed to give her job a priority when crises hit. This co-parenting is also unusual now especially when marriages fail, but even more unusual when Marie was first having kids decades ago.

Marie’s voice speaks of a remarkable drive to help others while mothering her children. Reading between the lines of her success we see her steady perseverance, her high level of energy, and persistent capacity to bear disappointments and keep going when stressed.

If you would like to participate in this series contact Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. Please comment on Marie’s story giving her the recognition she deserves.

FRONT COVER very samll

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with an upcoming book on amazon, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior.


Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author who does psychotherapy with infants and parents, children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Hollman's new book: Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Familius.com. She writes about infant, child and adolescent development, mental health, Parental Intelligence, and a broad range of parenting topics.

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