Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Big Firm Weekend was a blast and I continue to love The Firm and its inhabitants, but I'm starting to face the sobering reality that is working full time with a family. My summer schedule is ridiculously light, but it's not as flexible as my student schedule and Monday through Friday most of my daylight hours are occupied. As a student I have so much free time during the day- I'll be able to see our baby pretty much whenever I want. Once I start work, I'll leave in the morning, be gone all day, and come home at night to see him for a few hours before he goes to bed. My sadness at realizing that schedule doesn't change my desire to work, but it does give me a better understanding of what it means. I believe the Firm is as flexible as any BigLaw firm (if not more so) and I believe that it's the right place for me and the right move for our family, but on the occasional day when I have to work late and I don't see him at all it's going to be really hard.

This whole issue has me thinking about my childhood and the quantity and quality of time my parents spent with us. My mom stayed home from when I was 3 until I turned 16. My dad always worked full time- he was gone when we woke up in the morning and got home around 7. Our bedtime was 8 when we were little, so that means we only saw him for about an hour a day- and yet, I'm equally close to both parents and both seem to have equal footing in my childhood memories. I don't really remember my dad not being around during the day. Instead I remember our family dinners every night, our Sunday bike rides after church, our camping trips every summer, our one-on-one talks when he came up to my room to say goodnight, and our backyard adventures on the weekends. It's shocking to quantify how little time he actually had with us during the week. When I think of having 2 or so "awake" hours with our son as a young associate it seems horribly insufficient- and it may be, but there's definitely something to the fact that all I remember when looking back is my dad being there. I knew that he went to work, but when he was home, he was ours.

For the first time I wonder if it was hard for him to leave and go to work in the morning. Was he jealous that my mom got to spend more time with us? Why don't I feel closer to my mom than my dad when she was the one home all day? Not for the first time I wonder if my baby will feel closer to his daycare provider. How will I going to feel when the nanny gets to catch all those wonderfully random things my toddler says? Will my child(ren) remember me being there? or remember me being gone?

I can feel my son moving around right now and I worry about being there enough for him. Every decision I've made since high school has been made in light of my desire for a family and a career, but will that mean anything when he grabs on to my leg and begs me not to go in the morning (or maybe worse- if he doesn't)? The future is no longer phrased in hopeful generalities about "the flexibility of a law degree," "flexible work arrangements," and "the work/life balance"- it's real. The people at the Firm work hard and so will I. I can be a feminist with a fancy law degree and have a husband who changes diapers and vacuums the floor, but there are going to be times when I'll be a mother who wishes she was at home with her kids.


  1. Nicely said. I feel the same way.
    My mom stayed at home with us too, though, and I can't help but that that maybe THAT's why we didn't realize our dads were so busy?
    We'll just have to wait and see how it goes, I guess.

    - Another pregnant, rising 3L

  2. There's a woman at my firm who has young daughter. Her husband stays home and she seems to manage to make it home for dinner most nights and work from home after her daughter goes to bed. The infant stage is hard because they sleep much earlier than you can get home. Even as a legal secretary in Washington, DC, I had a hard time with commute and all getting home before my son went to sleep. We co-sleep and that helps in terms of bonding time.
    As for returning to work, I had to go back at 5 weeks (very little maternity leave) and even though I missed him, I was glad to have the adult conversation. You'll find a way to make it work. If you can, try to find some other working mothers to talk to. I belong to a meetup group (Meetup.com) for working moms in my city and we get together once a month. There are several attorneys in the group. You'll find that it's important to find working mom outlets OUTSIDE your firm to talk to because you never know what those inside your firm might use against you (although you'd hate to think so, it can happen). Good luck, LL!!

  3. Good luck! I'm glad the firm is still awesome.

  4. This was a great post. Thanks for sharing - it's really important for us non-moms to read about your experience.

  5. Thought of more.
    1) I was very jealous of my sister-in-law who lived with us and watched my son from 9 - 18mos. He really wanted her and that hurt my feelings. I can remember at least one crying/yelling event that arose out of my jealousy. :( It's much harder when they are non-verbal and can't tell you they love you.
    2) My Dad worked a LOT, too. He always brought work home. But I always remember him being there, too. I wonder if the mother is different. My Mom worked part-time and was home with us, too. My Dad always came to our concerts and plays, helped coach sports teams, etc. But he probably worked 60 hours/week.