My Most Important Job

Posted on | October 20, 2011 | 19 Comments

Yesterday was a rough day for me.

I won’t go into specifics, but the events of the day circled around my brain long after I went to sleep, bringing me interesting dreams and curious resolutions.  Yesterday, someone told me that I’m not putting the right focus on my life.  Someone told me that I am failing at what they called my most important job.

When I got home, I had to laugh.

I am most definitely NOT failing at my most important job.  Perhaps other people see their lives differently.  Perhaps one of the main problems with the state of our schools and the state of our children is that people don’t see things the way I see them.  Because the fact of the matter is, from the moment that I found out I was expecting, my most important job has been caring for my son. 

Part of that includes me getting up and going to work every day because someone has to pay the bills and I need the intellectual stimulation to keep myself sane.  Part of that includes being a lawyer and getting my job done every day.  But the most important part, for me, is being there 100%, without fail, for my child.  So when he is sick, I make him a priority.  When he has an event at school, that’s a priority.  When he says “‘nuggle, momma?” I drop what I’m doing and I snuggle.  Because being there for him is most important to me.  I don’t want to look back at my life when I’m old and think “Why did I spend so much time at the office?” or “Why did I let my son cry for me when I left him with a nanny so I could return to the office after working all day?”  For some people, that’s what you do and it works for you and I’m not saying it isn’t fine.  But it isn’t fine for me.

I want to be there for my child 100% of the time if and when he needs me.  It’s my most important job.  So forgive me if I get to work an hour early every morning, work through lunch every day and once or twice a month I miss a day of work.  Forgive me if I take an hour to go to the doctor to get treatment for the shingles that are ravaging my body.  Forgive me if all my clients at work are happy and my number one client at home is even happier.  I do my job, I do both of my jobs.  I work until I literally break out in a rash all over my body.  I make sure all deadlines are met and all clients have their needs addressed.

But at the end of the day, my most important job will always be being J’s mother.  And if that’s not okay with the legal field, then perhaps it’s time I find a new field.

Comments

19 Responses to “My Most Important Job”

  1. Srfueger
    October 20th, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    I don’t think this is the right firm for you – but maybe that’s too obvious, at this point. I am in private practice, in the legal field, and I, too, have a child and have to work daily at perfecting the balance of working mom attorney. It’s hard. It’s not perfect, as you know. When interviewing eager young law clerks last week, I wanted to ask them real questions about their feelings on leaving their kids, feeling guilty and always feeling like someone what being let down … because I think that’s the cross of the working mom. Some of that can’t be helped because it’s the nature of the business, and you know what they say, the law is a jealous bitch mistress. However, if you don’t work with people (not just your clients) who you feel supported, appreciated and valued by, you cannot do this job. I am the only female at a firm with 16 attorneys. Sometimes I do feel like I am an alien and a foreign concept to them, but I have worked really hard to remain true to myself and I know (because they’ve told me) that I’ve earned their respect and appreciation in the meantime. Knowing that they are behind me makes it possible for me to deal with the billable hour stress, the constant feelings of guilt at home and at work, and the other side effects of being a working attorney with children. I also had a very huge perspective shift one night after talking with one of my colleagues. I had always thought that my situation was so different than theirs because I was a mom and because we had nothing in common. Even though they had kids, they were content to let their stay-at-home wives pick up any slack … or so I thought. I had a really long conversation with a male attorney in my office, and I realized that whether or not they make it known all the time, they feel the same stress and emotions I do when it comes to be a working parent. Feeling that sense of “we’re all in this together” really helped me feel like I was part of a team. I guess what I’m saying is that the private practice of law is very difficult and it is not for everyone. If you don’t feel like you’re part of a collaborative effort to service clients you believe in, I don’t know how you can get up and drag yourself into the office. I think a lot of tension you’ve discussed here would ease up if you found a new firm that was a better fit or maybe a different career in the practice of law. There are 9-5 attorney jobs (private practice jobs certainly not being one of them). If you’re not happy at your job, it shows.

    I wish you the best and hope you can find something that works better for you and your family.

  2. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 8:38 am

    I guess my problem is that I wasn’t unhappy at my job. I actually really enjoyed my job and thought it was a good fit for me.
    Because you’re right, if you’re unhappy it shows. Perhaps its time, like you said, to transition into a different area of the law. I don’t know that I can be anything other than a 9-5 lawyer as a single mother.

  3. Jess
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    No, you don’t need a new field. It can work. You need a new employer. I love what I do and I have understanding bosses who have kids and understand. Do I have to stay and get stuff done? Sure. Do I check emails outside work? Yup because I choose to. But we all know that our jobs are not our number one priorities over everything else. To make that the case would be sad and we’d be failing as spouses and parents.

    Do people do it? Sure. Do I make big firm bucks? not even close. But I’m home with a sick kid, I came in late after a migraine yesterday and it’s fine. The work is done so my clients are happy. The rest is just details.

    I hope you can find a firm (or public work) that’s the perfect fit for you.

    Youre doing the right thing.

  4. Joanna Szeto
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:46 am

    This made me sad for you because even though you laughed the insensitive comment off, I bet it hurt a little. Good for you for knowing where your heart and priorities are. You hold lots of “hands” in your role in the legal world, but the most precious one of all fits right inside your palm. Wishing you peace along the way!

  5. Debbie
    October 20th, 2011 @ 10:46 am

    When someone says something that touches a nerve of mine, I always say to myself “Consider the source”. What you soon realize is that other people are masters at project their ‘stuff’ (their insecurities) onto us. Does the speaker secretly have some guilt over not being a great parent? At each moment of the day, listen to your heart … YOU know you are doing the right thing for you and for J. And when someone touches a nerve, smile at them and say “that may work for you and your family, but I do what is best for me and mine” (and deep down, and silently, say to yourself “fuck off and mind your own business”). xoxo You ROCK LawMomma xoxo

  6. Mommyattorney
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    Have you looked into goverment work? It can take a long time to *get* a job with the federal government, but it is really 9-5 for the most part. I think it’s one of the more doable attorney jobs.

    I’ve started my own firm with the intention of working truly part-time, but that means I won’t be making much more than my costs for awhile.

    I know it’s hard, but having your priorities right is the most important thing. And you definitely have them right.

  7. Lola M.
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:25 am

    I agree with everyone. Find work that fits who you are. Suggestion: if there is a university in Macon, try to join their legal team. We have one here at BSU and it’s a much better environment! Sure, the pay is a bit less, but things are much more flexible and you have just one great client!

  8. Destinmarler
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    UNBELIEVABLE that someone would say that to you.

    A job is a job.

    Your child is your life and the most important thing in your life.

    You are doing the RIGHT thing for him and you.

  9. Kreeper611
    October 20th, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    I’m with everyone else – it doesn’t seem like the right fit for you. I also don’t think you were 100% happy at the last firm either. Now that I’m in a job I lovelovelove I realize how unhappy I was before! And the whole time, I thought I liked my jobs…they just were not a good fit for me. And now, I know it was all wrong. Sometimes you have to do the crappy things waiting on the better things around the corner. Hopefully this means that your perfect job is out there, and that you find it soon. You won’t know how perfect it is until you’re there, but things will be right with the world.

  10. MaconMom
    October 20th, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    You get it. Some people just don’t get it. Kudos to you for doing what is right for you and your son (True, what is right for one may not be right for another).

    I feel guilt when I have to ask for time to take care of monkey or go to the daycare for a special event, but I wouldn’t want to miss it. I also eat through lunch.

    There are so many law firms here…. maybe there is another one that is a better fit. I want to scream at your current employer WTH? Are you clueless, seriously?

    Where the heck is that magic wand????

  11. Roxanne Piskel
    October 20th, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    Good for you.

    That is all.

    xo

  12. Kristinayellow
    October 20th, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    Please place your hands over any impressionable ears.
    Good?
    Ok.

    F*** them!

    Hands off now.

    I cannot believe the lack of understanding and compassion as well as the astounding lack of empathy. Geez. I am so sorry.
    I’m so glad you realize what is your priority. And as for finding another profession? I think you have it, you just need to find an agent and a publisher. I’d totally buy your book.
    Have a glass of wine and toast them for helping you once again realize how important J is and the difference between “life” and “job”

  13. Heather Griffitts Clark
    October 20th, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

    :::hugs::: It doesn’t matter what the field, this is a tough situation for all working moms.

  14. Natalie Smith
    October 20th, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

    I loved your post. Just beautiful. And, I agree 100% that being a mom absolutely is the most important job.

  15. beachmum
    October 20th, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

    Amen sister. If more parents focused on their kids, it would make my job as a teacher WAAAAY easier. I end up being the parent most of them lack. As far as the other goes- shame on whoever tells you to put your kid second. Seriously. Spoken like a true non-parent, or atleast a very hands off one. Jobs come and go. Kids don’t. Who will push you in your wheelchair in the nursing home and feed you your tapioca pudding?

  16. GrumpySleepy&Bashful
    October 21st, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    Aww, hang in there. And, you are so right. What a great reminder to all of us. Staying focused and realizing what is most important is sometimes easy, and sometimes brutally difficult. Thanks for the uplifting message! 🙂

  17. Jennifer Williams
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    Since I had my daughter almost seven years ago (yikes), every single job I’ve had I told them during the interview process that my children were my number 1 priority and always would be, and if that was an issue for the position then they shouldn’t hire me.

    In other words? I agree with you.

  18. Ashleigh
    May 6th, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    Honestly, your posts have been so enlightening. I am law student, and Im 25. My boyfriend and I are living together and planning our future. I am so concerned I wont be able to find a legal job that allows me to work 40 hrs a week or be flexible so that I can spend my time with my family. I have always wanted a family and I am not willing to give up that dream. Thank you.

  19. Law Momma
    May 6th, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    Oh it’s out there! You may have to look hard to find it, but you CAN be a lawyer and a mother… now, you can’t be a big time trial lawyer and still be a “cookies in the afternoon at 3” kind of mom… but you pick what’s most important to you and that’s the dream you hold onto. Even if it means being a “small time” lawyer and a frazzled but THERE mom. 🙂

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