I belong to this great group called DC Therapist Moms. It is pretty clear who they are: therapists who are moms that live in the DC Metropolitan area. Their main function is to host a listserve where therapists post on a daily basis about anything and everything. Questions about specific clinical topics, looking for referrals for their clients, suggestions on business practices or inquiries about books or conferences including off topic posts like 'in search of a nanny'. It is a wonderful resource and has truly changed my professional life.
They have a mentoring program that I used last year when I began my private practice. I met with a wonderful woman who had been in private practice a little longer than I had and I picked her brain about EVERYTHING. It was so nice to be able to ask every last question that was swimming through my brain. She has since become a friend and is part of my wonderful peer supervision group.
This week it was my turn to be the mentor. I met with a therapist who is starting her private practice. She is a decade plus younger than me and has a toddler and a baby on the way - talk about different life stages.
It was a really nice meeting. We shared our work histories, that we both went to the same graduate program (of course, she was in diapers when I was there) and various other war stories from the social work field. I processed about a difficult client that I had sat with the day before since it was somewhat close to her area of expertise and I shared with her my special interest in the area of adoption. She hadn't worked with adopted clients so it was fun to be able to answer her questions and reflect on my experience with that population.
We also talked about our kids, day care challenges and balancing it all.
I heard some really fascinating things from this young mom that I hadn't expected. She was interested to hear that I hadn't gone into private practice until recently. I explained that I wasn't ready until my kids were older and I could put more energy into building a business. She appreciated how hard it was to balance the daycare, sick kid and early school release days with a busy practice. I told her that when I had a fixed schedule working for an agency it worked better with day care and now that the kids were older and more self-sufficient, it was easier for me to come and go and have a more random schedule.
As she processed my journey, I was able to see it in an objective way. I hadn't really planned my career path or thought it out, it kind of just happened that way (I tend to live that way, uber planner, I am not). And yet, as I recollected my process with my colleague, I realized that it made sense. My professional career has worked very well with our family life.
I have always been very grateful that since my oldest son was born, I have had the opportunity to work part-time. As I sat in playgroups with other moms of babies and toddlers and we ranted on about family-work balance, I truly believed that I had the best of both worlds. My Tuesdays and Thursdays have forever been my work days; that was when I would put on grown-up clothes, interact with other adults, and continue to learn and practice my profession. The other days were filled with diapers, playgroups, laundry and nap time. I wouldn't have traded that lifestyle for anything.
As I set out for our meeting at Starbucks the other morning, I certainly had no idea that these thoughts would have been generated. I am glad that this young mom-therapist was able to send me on a little tour of memory lane. It doesn't help that we are about to have our basement painted and this morning I removed all of the artwork from pre-school from the old chipped painted walls.
Ah, the journey of life, hop aboard, it is a fast moving and crazy ride.