Posted on | January 13, 2011 | 5 Comments

When you hear the word discipline, one of three things comes to mind: (1) punishment; (2) dedication/self-control; or (3) an area of knowledge.  On first glance, they are very different.  The first is done in anger, the second in a form of self-denial or training and the third is just, well…  schooling.  But if you look a little deeper, they’re all the same. They’re all … discipline. And they’re what you need to succeed as a working mother.

I’ve done a lot of worrying over this past year about how to make things better for J. I’ve worried about spending too little time with him. I’ve worried about not teaching him enough or anything at all. I’ve worried that he will resent me when he’s older for my career. And I’ve worried a lot about how to make my career work for me. I’ve worried about how to be a successful and marketable attorney while still being a successful and present mother. And amidst all the worrying, I’ve actually done a lot of learning. I’ve learned what it takes to make this work in the best way it can work for me. It’s not easy. It’s not often pretty. But for right now, it’s working. And the only reason it’s working is discipline.

The discipline of law. The discipline of motherhood. They CAN be compatible. I posted before that the billable hour wasn’t conducive to motherhood and while that’s true, I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past few weeks and I think they can work together. I think with the right amount of discipline, they can balance out. What I’m not saying is that I HAVE that discipline… but I’m working on it.

So I’ll share with you what it takes to make this work. To make the craziness of motherhood work with the craziness of being a career woman. First, you have to know yourself … are you a morning or a night person? Are you able to focus at home? Are you okay with working on the weekends? Second, you have to know your child… is he happier in the morning or the evening? Does he need extra time with you at bedtime or extra snuggles in the morning? Do you want to be the person who picks him up or drops him of at daycare?  And finally, it takes knowing your career… when are you indispensable?  What can you absolutely not miss and what can you put on the back burner?

I’m much better in the mornings. After lunch I tend to fade into something resembling a Thanksgiving food coma so if I don’t get things lined up in the mornings, I’m pretty much guaranteed to get nothing accomplished in the afternoon.  So I’m working on getting myself to work early. I’m disciplining myself to get to the office early and get right to work. And it’s hard. But when I get the urge to chat with my secretary or check my email, I remember that if I’m productive in the morning, I can have more time with J in the evening.

I leave work by 5:30 every day of the week. That’s a must in my book because if I don’t leave by 5:30 I don’t have any time with my son. It’s not a popular practice with my boss, but I’ve made it clear that that is my exit time and it’s just not flexible.  What that means, though is that I have to eat lunch at my desk. I have to monitor my hours in a fun little Excel spreadsheet that an old colleague made for me. If I don’t bill 8 hours during my work day, I know that I have to either come home and work after J goes to bed or I have to make up the time on the weekend. And it’s tough. It’s really, really tough. Because the last thing I want to do when I get home is work. But if I know that I’ve only billed 38 hours in a week, I’m going to have to make that time up somehow. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to work five hours on a Saturday than to get up an hour earlier every day for a week.

Like I said, it’s not pretty. But this is my job. This is the career path I chose. This is my discipline. This is what I have to do to make my family life and my work life, well… work. And sometimes it feels like punishment. And sometimes it feels like self-control.

And sometimes, it feels a lot like learning.


5 Responses to “Discipline”

  1. Elizabeth
    January 13th, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    Sometimes being an adult sucks. But kuddos to you for at least coming up with a strategy to try to stick with. Much better than just flinging yourself around like a mad woman.

  2. Elizabeth
    January 13th, 2011 @ 3:18 am

    Good post. Good insight. I agree, we have to know ourselves and our kids. We each have to do what is right for our own family. And what is right, may change over time for each of us. Thanks for sharing lawmomma. Keep on keepin on!

  3. Ruthie
    January 13th, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    You are awesome!!!!

  4. KLZ
    January 13th, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    I know that I am not a person who can work weekends. My brain turns to total mush. As opposed to half mush like normal.

  5. Jess@Straight Talk
    January 13th, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    I’m proud of you. You’re working on it because really, that’s what you have to do. Unless you magically became independently wealthy, you gotta bill those billables. You sound good 🙂

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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