Decisions, Decisions

Posted on | December 29, 2010 | 16 Comments

I have a lot of decisions to make.

As the year comes to a close, I have to make some difficult decisions about where my life is heading and where my career is heading. And I don’t know how to make those decisions. Because when I went to law school, I wanted to be this high-powered New York City lawyer. I wanted to work long hours and make big money and be… important. I thought I would be a career woman; always taking the next jump, then next promotion, the next big case.

And then I became a lawyer. I married Husband. I had a son. And suddenly, those things just don’t seem to matter to me any more. I don’t know that I want to be a high-powered lawyer. I don’t want to bill 2500 hours a year and work most nights and weekends. I don’t want to have a stack of things to do on my desk that keep me burning the midnight oil until I look harried and sick. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a lawyer. I actually like the work that I do. I just don’t know that I like the amount of work that I’m expected to do. I want a life outside the law. I want to be able to consider the law my day job. And I’m not sure that there are options like that for lawyers. Are there options like that for lawyers? Are there options like that for anyone? I just don’t know.

All I know is that I have some decisions to make. Because I’m slowly losing my mind over here. Yesterday I washed my hair with body wash and this morning, I got out of the shower and started my morning ritual only to notice that I still had all the shampoo in my hair. Not the conditioner… the shampoo. Just another reminder that I don’t know where my head is. My heart? I’ve got that covered. But I’ve got to locate my headย and fasten it tightly to the rest of me.

And so I have decisions to make.


16 Responses to “Decisions, Decisions”

  1. cltuptownmom
    December 29th, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

    I agree with you totally! It is really hard and now that things are different with the baby, I, too am looking for a change next year. I am really excited about 2011. For me the change is going to be long and gradual, but I am hoping that by this time next year I will have more freedom and be in a better place emotionally and spiritually. Something about work right now is so draining and I feel like its sucking the life outta me. Change is a good thing. I hope you can find what will make you happy as that is what we are all after. Hugs!

  2. cltuptownmom
    December 29th, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    Oh and btw- I have totally done the body wash in the hair thing. made me chuckle! Also have done the shaving the left leg and forgot to shave the right one! haha.

  3. Jamie
    December 29th, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

    I understand your frustration and angst. As a lawyer mommy, I’ve been in your shoes. There are options out there for lawyers. I am fortunate enough to work in a small practice (4 lawyers). I work 40-45 hours a week and have a billable hour requirement of 1800/year. I am able to go to work and do what I love, but also go home and spend the evening with my kiddos and husband. There are other options out there too (part time, of counsel, etc.). But I know that some of those options are not viable because of financial concerns. Fingers crossed for you!!

  4. Klz
    December 29th, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    You’ll get there. You’ll get there.

  5. Blair@HeirtoBlair
    December 29th, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

    oh boy, do I get it.

    Especially the part about leaving shampoo in your hair. I cannot tell you how many times I did that in 2010.

  6. Katie Jones
    December 29th, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

    Whenever I come to a crossroads like this, it’s 1/2 freaking scary and 1/2 freeing.

    When I went to school for radiology, I had BIG dreams of spending hours in the O.R. and becoming a physician’s assistant. But three months after I graduated, I gave birth to my daughter…and I never went back.

    I still miss the “high powered-ness” of my medical career, but I know that being home with Ellie is the HARDEST, most IMPORTANT job I could be doing for the next 5 years.

    ::easy for me to say, as a SAHM, right?::

    I have never been a working mom, and I cant imagine what yall go through, balancing work with family, chores, laundry, meals, etc. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! Props to you. ๐Ÿ™‚


    I’m looking forward to reading about your upcoming decisions ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Emily
    December 29th, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    I totally understand. My son is the same age as yours and up until November, I worked 50+ hours a week and hated every minute of it. We decided to move to a smaller town, I got a part time job in a totally different field and I am happier than I’ve ever been. You know what? I didn’t even realize that until I just typed it out.

    You have to do what’s right for you and your family. I promise you will get there!

  8. Elizabeth
    December 29th, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    You got to shower two days in a row?!?

  9. Camille
    December 29th, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

    Hi! I don’t know if I’ve commented before or have just been a long-time lurker. Anywho, love your blog! I’m also a mommy lawyer (in ATL) and struggled tremendously with the realities of balancing everything – and that was BEFORE I became a mom. I realized before even getting pregnant that I was quite content being the worker bee and had no desire to catch the “golden ring,” so I asked to be taken off partnership track with its high billable requirements. Thankfully, they said yes. When I returned from maternity leave I began working part-time and now bill about 20-25 hours a week. It is working out fabulously. Of course, there are downsides to this arrangement (goodbye massive paycheck and perks), but for now the pros far outweigh the cons. So, yes, there are options out there – sometimes it’s just a matter of asking for them.

  10. Mae
    December 29th, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    You sound a lot like where I was about a year ago.

    I’m within shouting distance of some big changes. The part that took the longest was figuring out what I wanted.

    Good luck.

  11. Wendy
    December 29th, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    I’m also a lawyer mom. It has been a tough year for me too. I have a 3 year old and a 15 month old. I’m struggling with balance too. Luckily, I’m a partner in a small town practice and I set my own schedule. Lately it’s been about 10 am to 5:30 pm with an hour lunch. And I don’t bill by the hour for most things-I do mostly transactional work, bankruptcy, real estate and wills. I don’t make a whole lot of money but I’m very happy with my practice and I don’t know how I would make it with stricter schedule and billable hour requirement. I hope you get things figured out soon. But I just wanted to add my situation as another “option.”

  12. Mama Fisch
    December 29th, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    I hear you loud and clear! I try every day to leave my job at school but it is impossible. And every day I wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Some days I think it is and other days I don’t. Give your mind some time and let you heart lead you. Hopefully, you will find something that gives you everything you want including the elusive balance we are all looking for in our own lives.

  13. Elizabeth
    December 29th, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

    I would echo Camille and Wendy. There are other options for mommy lawyers. I have 3 small children and have been practicing law for 8 years. When my oldest when 18 months, I went off partnerhsip track at my firm, and went on what my firm calls “alternative work schedule”. I work 4 days a week, and bill 1500hrs a year. I do litigation and travel throughout the state on depos and hearings some days so I can usually get my 1500 hrs pretty easily. I typically work 9:30am-5:30pm, 4 days a week. It gives me time to get up with my kids in the am and give them breakfast and drop my oldest at pre-k. There are attorneys at my firm that work 3 days a week. I am not partnerhsip track, I make less than my full time collegues, I get less interesting cases and assignments sometimes because of my reduced schedule, but I am happier. I have a career, but I have more time with my kids than most working moms. My “off day” is flexible so I volunteer in my pre-k sons classroom on occasion and take my little ones to mommy and me swimming once a week. I don’t have the stress of face time after hours with clients (drinking cocktails or playing golf – and I hate golf) or taking cases that might demand I be in trial in some other city hours away from my family for weeks at a time. I DO GET PAID LESS, but it is a happy medium at this time in my life. It is no without it’s own angst sometimes (I miss the interesting cases and my at home days are exhuasting!).

    My situation has also made me realize something else. I have been able to try on SAHM one day a week for the last several years. And it is SOOO hard. Much harder than many days at the office. I think those that work (or those that SAH) often idealize the other situation. “If I stayed at home I would get some much done at home and spend so much quality bonding time with my kids”. But the truth is, the grass is always greener on the other side. On my days home, my kids and I do get quality time together, but I am often frazeled and frustrated with the effort it takes (packing kids up to get to a playdate 1/2 late, only to have baby vomit, brother hit sister and sister rip her new coat because she wasn’t paying attention!). I don’t get all the laundry done and there is no wonderful meal made at the end of the day when my husband walks in. It is a tiring day! As you said in a post months ago (I have been a lurker for awhile) you can’t work like Ward Cleaver and have a June Cleaver house. I would also say it is hard to have a June Cleaver house even if you don’t work – when you have kids at home!

    There are firms out there that entertain part time lawyers. Staff Attorneys, of counsel positions come to mind. The career path is not as exciting or exhilerating, but you get to practice law and have more time for your family.

  14. WTH am I Doing
    December 29th, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

    Good luck. I struggle with the desire to be “important” in my job. I like to feel “important.” I also like being paid like I’m “important.” However? Hub is “important” (crucial, actually) and he works all. the. time.

    And it sucks.

    And he is stressed out all the time. My boss is “important” as well and he is constantly frazzled. And both my husband and my boss? Have wives to help keep the other stuff going. Unfortunately for Hub? His wife works. So things are not really a finely oiled machine at home…*sigh*

    So while I’ve come to terms with being a working mom? And actually like being a working mom? I still have a hard time feeling marginal. I want the pay and the recognition. But really? I don’t want the commitment that comes with it.

    Sometimes being a little cog? Means I can duck out & hang out with my kid. Which is way cooler & less stressful than being “important.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Jess@Straight Talk
    December 29th, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

    Oh mama. I’m sorry. And seriously, I know I’ve said this before, and it totally doesn’t pay shit, but maybe a break to go into public sector would be right up your alley. If not? Contract would be cool. Something.

    I have no words of wisdom. I’m useless. But I know you can keep on kicking ass.

  16. lauren_vanhappy
    January 2nd, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    Have you considered nonprofit law? I have been working for nonprofits for years, and am now Executive Director of my own nonprofit. What I find is that while the money isn’t the best, I get by. The work-family balance is ideal, and the work environments are usually relaxed and laid back. So many good nonprofits need legal help. Maybe even on a consulting basis? That’s what I’m working toward myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

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