Whenever a parent finds out I am a child psychologist, one of three things happen:
1. They immediately begin trying to convince me how normal their child or their child’s behavior is. Most of the time, I haven’t even noticed their child or given thought to what their child is doing. Almost everyone assumes psychologists are engaged in constant analysis of the people around them. Maybe other psychologists are, but not me. Honestly, I’m too worried about my own kid to be paying that much attention to yours.
2. They bring up a problem or issue they are having with their child and ask for my professional opinion. I don’t mind these conversations in the least. They are a welcome break from toddler speak. It gives me a chance to feel like the hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt is worth something even if it is playground therapy.
3. They assume I have it all together and know exactly what I am doing with my child. There is an assumption that my child should be a stellar example of behavior and emotion. They feel as if I am at an advantage given I am a child psychologist. You’d think that I would be, huh? In fact, I always thought I would be.
I must dispel this third assumption. Being a child psychologist gives me almost no advantage over any other parent in having any idea or clue about being a mother. I learn just like every other mother.
I stumble blindly. I make mistakes. I go with my gut or my head depending on what the situation feels like. I feel like a failure lots of times. I ride the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs to dashing lows and back up again. I struggle with knowing the right decision to make and after I’ve made it, still continue to doubt. Sometimes I feel confident whereas other times my confidence is crushed. I worry if I am doing it right or if I am going to create a flawed human being. All of it. I am right there with every other new mother. I’m just like you.