With a powerful stance and a bold look in her eyes, she stood behind the podium with hands firmly placed onto either side. She described what it was like for her to be a mother and a psychologist in an era where it was not acceptable for a woman to have a career. She was Norine Johnson, Ph.D. A woman who, as she put it, had to obtain her husband’s permission to go back to school to obtain her doctorate in clinical psychology. She described how her husband had agreed to this decision as long as she was able to maintain her responsibilities in the household and the care of their children.
As an audience, we felt her strength. She had not only succeeded in obtaining her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, she had also been president of the American Psychological Association. All of this in addition to being a mother and a wife. She did this despite society telling her that she could not, simply because she was a woman.
I was in my undergraduate training at Wayne State University and was being given an award for my work in psychology. It was at the award ceremony where I was honored to hear her share this story. This woman, who was a mother, wife, and doctor, represented everything I wanted to be. She was powerful, yet loving and approachable.
At the end of the award ceremony she came up to my mother, grandmother, and me and started to talk to us. She asked me, “Why do I work so hard at my education?”
I slowly looked at my mother and grandmother and tears began to come out of my eyes.
I said, “I do it because they could not.”
She looked at me with a fierceness and said, “I would give you a hug right now, but I do not think that you need it.”
She was right: I had the strength of my mother, grandmother, and all the woman before me, who had all overcome more than I could imagine, and I could use that to become whoever I wanted to be.
I, like Dr. Johnson, became a mother as I was finishing up my training in psychology. I thought of her often as I encountered the unrealistic pressures that society, and we as women, place on ourselves. I would be lying to you if I said that I had adjusted as well as Dr. Johnson at being a mother and a psychologist. It. Was. Hard. Very hard. I had twins, a fellowship, a husband, two dogs, a licensing exam to study for, and a house. I thought I was Superwoman. I thought I could handle it all and do it all.
I slowly began to notice that I could not do it all, or at least not all the time. This broke my heart and caused a high-level self-doubt in myself and my abilities. I needed help and I needed to start making some changes. So that is exactly what I did.
I realized that the job I was aspiring to prior to becoming a mother did not work in terms of allowing me to be the woman, wife, and mother I wanted to be, so I created my own company, Healthy Life. I also realized that sometimes it’s okay to leave the dishes in the sink if it means that I get to spend a little extra time with my family. Lastly, I realized that my value as a person is dependent on how I feel about the quality of care I am giving to myself and others.
There are many other women out there, new and very-experienced mothers, who are struggling with the same thing. I began to reach out and use my training in health psychology to help these individuals as they prepared and adjusted to their journey towards motherhood. Even though it is motherhood that brings us together as women, it is also the same thing that isolates us from our support system. Many people I have helped, myself included, have felt alone on this journey.
If you are someone who have experienced depression and/or anxiety related to becoming a mother or being a mother in this modern day, reach out! Let someone help you.
We at Healthy Life are well-equipped to help you through your journey of becoming the woman, mother, and wife you have always wanted to be. Let us help you recognize the strength that you already have.
For more information on postpartum depression please check out the following link.
To find out more information about Norine Johnson, Ph.D. click on the following link.