Posted on | April 9, 2014 | 1 Comment
If you’ve been here a while, you know I’m divorced. You also probably know I’m a lawyer. And a mom.
What you may or may not know is that my closest family is my ex-husband’s parents and they live almost two hours away. I have no live-in nanny. I have no live-in anything except two dogs who hardly qualify as childcare. If I plan things well in advance, I can usually arrange for my ex’s parents to care for J in a crunch, especially if it’s a Friday or Monday and coincides with a great weekend for them to visit with him at length, and I usually try to do that for out of town depositions or hearings or things that might not allow me to get J to school at 7:30am or pick him up by 5:30pm.
In my job, I deal with a lot of physicians. And most physicians prefer to spend their working hours actually doing what they went to school for… seeing patients, operating on patients, or prepping patients for surgery. Meeting with lawyers is a tedious undertaking that they’d rather not deal with at all, much less during “Work” hours. So when I have to take a doctor’s deposition or sit down and meet with this or that doctor on behalf of my clients, those meetings are scheduled at 7 am or 6pm. They don’t schedule during normal business hours.
They don’t schedule during normal school hours.
So what I’m left with, nine times out of ten, is a situation like this morning, a Wednesday, when I’m forced to either find a sitter who can arrive at my house by 6:30am (no one wants to do this, FYI), or take my child with me on a work-related “field trip.”
There are lawyers who could not, ever, make that work. There are strict, high-brow, no-nonsense lawyers who could never DREAM of having to juggle kid and work simultaneously. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a single momma attorney, it’s that I am not those lawyers. And if you want to be one of those lawyers, don’t try to be a single mom at the same time. It might be possible… but it would be very, very expensive. Sometimes you have to choose what’s most important… always being the aggressive professional, or always being, well… whoever you are.
The thing no one tells you in law school is this: You don’t have to be scary to be successful. You don’t have to be angry and confrontational and aggressive to be a darn good lawyer. And for me, I know that I can’t be scary (no matter what Dallas says). I am a peace-maker. I’m the lawyer who will pick up the phone and let opposing counsel know that my kid just did something awesome in school or is sick and with me. I might apologize for the inconvenience if it’s an attorney I don’t know well, but most of the time, I don’t have to. Because MOST attorneys I deal with just want to be people, too. No one wants to be an asshole all the time, at least I don’t think so. And I’m not really all that good at being an asshole. I’d rather be sweet… being mean makes me angry and when I’m angry I cry and let’s face it, no one wants a lawyer who cries.
So for me, though it feels deathly embarrassing at times, I am the lawyer who shows up to a meeting with a doctor, toting my four year old and an iPad and wearing a sheepish smile.
This is who I am, I shrug.
This is how I make my life work, and I make very few apologies for it.
And for the most part? Everyone I’ve met is down right okay about it. Some of them like me better for it.
So for those of you still wondering if you can have it all, my answer is still a resounding “YES” even after my 7am conference with a physician and my four year old. Figure out what’s important to you and whatever that is? Make it work with the other parts of your life. I’m an mother who happens to be an attorney, not the other way around. If I wanted to be a high-powered attorney who struck fear in the hearts of all others, all the time, I’d be pretty miserable with how my life is shaping up. But because I love being the one invited to opposing counsel’s wedding, the one who gets to share in another attorney’s joy at the birth of his daughter, the one who shrugs and tells the physician “I apologize, but I’m a single mom and I had no sitter this morning…”
Because I love who I am…. I love what I have. And that’s all that really matters anyway.