Thursday, March 19, 2009


As I was leaving work at 7:15 pm Tuesday night, the latest I've ever left, after just spending a full and wonderful Monday at home with Landon, I realized that although I feel no guilt or inner turmoil over the fact that I work (aka "abandon my child to be raised by wolves" or strangers or something), that emotional ease has very sharp limits. When I get home within an hour of his bedtime I hate it, it's like stepping off a precipice as far as satisfaction with my job goes. I laid in bed Tuesday night wishing I someday wanted to stay home. I don't, JP and I frequently have "what would we do if we won the lottery" discussions and staying home full time never occurs to me- sure I'd work less, freed from the binds of our stretched finances I'd find a local organization I could really believe in and throw my enthusiasm and legal training behind it. We'd travel, eat out, replace our cars, and own beautiful master bedroom furniture- but I'd still have a legal position somewhere.

I think the lack of control of my schedule is one of the hardest parts of working, especially as a professional service provider because sometimes things pop up at 5 p.m. and I can't leave just because I want to meet my family at the park. As part of the case I'm working on I've been reading all the emails sent around the closing of a large transaction. There's about five days of emails being sent until 1 and 2 a.m. by the youngest associates and I just keep thinking- I couldn't do that. I can work during the day, am actually quite happy to work during the day, just as Landon is very happy at daycare, but I couldn't miss bedtime several nights in a row. I can barely miss bedtime once a month for a law firm event or get together with friends. This probably shouldn't be so note worthy, but it really has amazed me how sharp that drop off is between happy at work while he's at daycare and unhappy at work while he's at home with JP running around the house and getting ready for bed. I'm lucky that JP can pick him up early every day and they can play at the park and have quality time together at home even if I have to work late, but still, time spent together every day is just not optional.

I didn't spend much time dwelling on this Tuesday- when I walked in the door at 7:30 after a crazy day, I heard JP tell Landon, "go say hi to mama" and I could hear him thundering over to me, clutching his belly like he does when he's running his very fastest, exclaiming "mamamamama!" and launched himself on me for a very big hug. We then had a tickle war on my bed while I changed out of my work clothes

and then headed upstairs for some book reading, snuggling, and singing goodnight. This is my favorite part of the day- while I hate putting him down so soon after I get home, he's so snuggly and adorable and full of goodnight kisses that I look forward to it anyway. After reading his three chosen books, I stuck him in his crib for our blowing of the goodnight kisses:

He's very enthusiastic about them.

By the end of the kisses he's usually very excited and bounces on the bed while giggling, waving, and saying "nigh nigh! nigh nigh!"

And then I tell him I love him one more time, close the door (the lights are already off, I was just using a flash), and walk downstairs as he curls himself into a ball with puppy and silently goes to sleep. I wonder when our difficult baby became such an easy toddler. And I think that within the next five years I'd like to be working at 80% time or for the DOJ or other government organization. I like what I do but I have limits, and I have to know that I won't miss many bedtimes.


  1. Landon really reminds me a lot of my son - a high-maintenance baby (as we called him) turned into a really, really easy toddler. My daughter? Not so much - my easy, easy baby is now showing a strong desire for opinions that stand as tall and permanent as the rock of Gibraltor.

    Ironically, you described perfectly why I chose to stay home and have not regretted it. The lack of control over my schedule was what made me 100% With No Regrets want to stay home full-time. At my last gig, I was doing data security work at the Federal Reserve and there was very little flexibility and if you tried to be flexible, there was massive amounts of guilt heaped upon you by the martyrs working there. It was probably the endless guilt that put me over the top. That or the fact while I was pregnant, that I had to postpone an OB appointment for Yet Another Emergency. Certainly glad I don't work there now! Heh. :-)

  2. i love this so much. it reminds me of the sacred time i have with jude every night at bedtime. thanks for visually documenting it. landon is delicously beautiful :)

  3. I think the gov is a really good place to be for moms. I don't know first hand but from what I hear, the work is still rewarding and challenging (and prestigious) but the hours are more reasonable. Obviously, it depends on what gov position you have but as a general rule, it's better than biglaw, I think, especially for us new lawyers.

  4. "Wishing I someday wanted to stay home"-- Perfect way to describe it.

    I am getting a PhD in May and next year I'll be teaching in my current department. I'll continue my 2.5 days on campus/ 2.5 days at home schedule, but I have to tell you, I like the WOHM days just as much as the SAHM days (better, even, because I always get a shower and a coffee break when I work. Also, there's no laundry at my office). I do feel guilty sometimes liking to be gone as much as I do. But I like what I do, and I am almost done apologizing for it.

    Great post, and Landon is a cutie pie!

  5. I work for a federal agency as a lawyer and have a co-worker with a young child. It depends on the agency and division you're working for (IG, Enforcement, OGC) as well as who your manager is. My co-worker is allowed to combine a flex time schedule (10 hrs, 4 days a week) with telecommute and only comes into the office 3 days a week. I've heard other agencies are more generous with telecommute. My manager is very much against it. Also, the working hours themselves are pretty chillaxed, depending on what you do (we're transactional lawyers and have the money every one else wants...may not be the case in the litigation department at DOJ) for which agency. I very rarely work over 40 hours a week.

    OTOH, you don't get any maternity leave. What every one around here does is shore up 3 months of leave (sick + annual), take the full FMLA and stay out of the office for 6 months combined, after which they come back full time.

    My co-worker seems to be fine with it-though she said that since you need to hoard all your leave on account of not getting maternity that it made doctor's appointments during the pregnancy annoying to schedule.

  6. Oh yeah, and unless you can transfer in at GS-14, minimum, you'd be taking a huge paycut. Even then, you'd be taking a ginormous paycut :-)

  7. He is so ridiculously cute, and I love the alphabet on his wall. However. What the hell is that first picture of him? He looks like a FULL GROWN CHILD. OMG. He's not that much older than my baby and I refuse to accept the fact that she's going to start becoming more of a child and less of a baby before I know it. I'm not ready!

  8. Also, just to weigh in on government jobs. I work for the state and my hours are strictly 8-5, Monday through Friday and NOBODY works past 5:00. They told me that when they hired me and I didn't believe it, but it's true. The few times I've been in the building past 5:30, it's been a ghost town. I will admit to taking plenty of files home, but I'm one of the few DA's who do that. I'm just dedimacated that way.

  9. He is absoloutely adorable! That is just too precious. Yeah, I know, I'm gushing here but what great pictures.

    You're one lucky lady, my dear. Lucky that JP is able to be so there for both Landon and you. Lucky to have that adorable child. And the work you enjoy.

    Life is what happens when we make other plans so for now, don't sweat it ... just enjoy it!

  10. I've never full-time worked government or anything, but the externship I did with a government agency - man the attorneys barely worked. They were out of the office often by 2-3 on Fridays, and DEFINITELY gone by 5 on weekdays. Good work if you can get it!

    Do you have any concerns about discussing leaving your firm on your blog, since people at your office might see it? I guess I have become so paranoid in the internet age! Hence my anonymous comments!! :)

  11. Hi Anon, it's not something I worry much about. The odds of anyone I work with reading this are so very small as googling my name or the name of my firm would never bring up the blog. I took the blog link off my facebook page months ago so you can't see that "came to" link with my profile name in my sitemeter anymore.

    And even if someone who reads blogs found their way to mine (though since most people find me by goggling "pregnant in law school" that's not particularly likely) I haven't written anything I'd be upset for a colleague to know. We have at least four former Austin litigation associates in the DOJ now, some of them will come back to the firm eventually, most will stay in the government, it's the way it works. The firm can't (and doesn't want to) make everyone partner, so a desire to someday work in the government isn't a bad or unusual thing. All in all I really like where I work, for BigLaw life I don't think it can be beat, and I think that comes across for the most part.

    That's a long answer, but it was a good question. The short of it is, no, I don't have many concerns. I don't use names (of the firm, colleagues, or myself), I would never give any specifics about a case (other than the fact that it exists and I'm working on it), and I just think the odds are small that anyone I work with would stumble across the blog and even smaller that they would care even if they did.

  12. As I am working at 12:45am to finish a project (I'm a litigation 1st year), I wonder how anyone can balance biglaw with family. Me and the hubby want to start our family next year and I am pretty sure I will have to quit at some point after I become a mom. It's too bad, but these hours are incompatible with having a family.