Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I feel like I should write something, because there hasn't been any real content from me in a while, but my head is something of a disorganized, depressing mess.  JP is interviewing for jobs in various fields and cities and states and it is a difficult process.  It's hard on him  because of the rejections and the mounting frustration of not having a "real" (his word, not mine) job ten months out of business school.  He worked like crazy to start a successful company that now looks like more of a failure on his resume because of its short life thanks to a crazy business partner.  It's a tight job market pretty much everywhere, but especially in Austin because of its size and general desirability; plus, it's a very tech focused city and his BBA in Finance combined with an MBA doesn't get him nearly as far as a BS in any type engineering would.  He loves his coaching, but he wants to contribute more and he wants to be able to grow and succeed in a corporate career.  It's hard on me because I feel like I'm constantly balancing the need to support him, with the occasional need to verbally smack him (e.g. don't you dare tell me you're going to practice today when you told me you couldn't pick up the kids early because you had so much interview prep work to do), with my even more rare desire to scream "where the f was all this drive to get a business job when you were in BUSINESS SCHOOL and had access to all their resources we now have to pay for?!".  Because, even though I gave him my blessing at the time, a tiny part of me is furious with him for taking a risky start-up position when he could have been looking for more solid jobs that actually paid something, and every now and then that part has to come out too.  And then there's an overall ambivalence about him working at all -- part of me desperately want him to find a job to relieve some of the pressure on me, so we can take a deep financial breath, so I won't stop staring at our massive educational loan balances, so I can actually listen to opportunities that pay less than my current salary (as every single non-BigLaw opportunity does).  And yet the other part of me knows that our life is going to get so much harder with two full-time working parents and wonders why JP can't just want to be a stay-at-home dad so we could save $2,000/month on daycare, and I could continue to have a spouse who does nearly all the cooking, all the errands, and all the household chores.  Because, even though I don't want that role either, having only one person working full-time has been pretty awesome. And so I cheer the successes, mourn the failures, and secretly wonder what I really want the outcome of each new opportunity to be.  On JP's end the job searching is hard, the rejections are hard, and my most frequent urge is to just hug him and remind him that he's amazing and will be an asset to the company that's lucky enough to have him.  I'm his only family, his only support.  His parents are painful non-entities, an absence made worse by the fact that they're still around, they've just chosen a misplaced sense of pride and injury over any involvement with their son and his children.  He has no siblings, no aunts or uncles, one living grandparent who is even crazier and meaner than his mother, and his closest friend in Austin is now an ex-business partner who he is mostly definitely not speaking to.  I'm kind of it.  So, it's hard. 

Combined with all that, my current level of job satisfaction is less than it was.  A lot less.  I hate that I'm being turned in to an IP litigator, but in Austin, that's our bread and butter, and there's not enough overflow from the securities and big corporate litigation sections in the other cities to keep us busy right now.  I don't dislike my work, but I don't enjoy it either, and that's a loss.  And then, my very favorite senior associate who has become a very close friend announced she is most likely leaving due to a new opportunity for her husband in another state and I almost started to cry.  The people you work with have such an effect on your (or at least my) job satisfaction, and I can't imagine working without either the people or the subject matter that I like.  Then yesterday I had to fire one of the contract attorneys working under me in this case.  It sucked, as did the frantic phone call and email I received from him immediately after cutting him.  It was a black and white decision for reasons I won't go in to, but I didn't like it. 

Last night I was playing with the kids in the play room after dinner and I just felt sad.  I can't believe Claire is almost 10 months old.  I adore her little baby self so much I almost started crying about that she's getting older so quickly.  I never understood the moms who said that before, I cheered on every single day older that Landon got until he hit about 12-18 months, but with Claire I get it.  Even in her baby state, she's really not any harder than 3.5 year old Landon, and she's so adorable, with the clapping and crawling and excitement.  I have a rather desperate feeling that it hasn't been enough, that it's going by too quickly and I'm missing such big parts of it.  I spent all day Sunday with the kids while JP coached; we went to the grocery store and then I cooked for 4 hours.  It was the best day I've spent in a while - both kids were so good and cute and I was so very happy.  I wasn't sad to go to work on Monday, but it was the first day I felt regret as I pulled out of the daycare parking lot.  I frequently wish I could be in two places at once, or that the weekends were longer, but true regret or sadness at going to work is a new one.

There's happiness, so much of it.  Usually it floats on the surface and I don't even need to try to feel it above anything else, and I know people have it harder and I have little reason to feel this down.  But today, this week, perspective and happiness have been slippery and elusive and I'm having a very hard holding on to either of them for very long.


  1. I'm so sorry everything is so tough right now. It seems like hard things come in waves, doesn't it? Good luck to you both with everything.

  2. Just here to send you a virtual hug. I'm sure that in just a few days things will balance themselves back out. Best of luck to JP on the job search, and I hope your job mojo comes back soon.

  3. Oh I hear you. 5 years ago we decided my husband would stay home part-time and work in IT programming, right after I graduated from law school. Overall, it has worked, and he does great with getting our 2 boys organized (one born in law school, one post-law school). He does the cooking and house mainteance, we have someone clean once a week, and I try to stay as involved as I can at night and on the weekends--things like getting to pick out their clothes are very important to me. Sometimes part time for him has meant 15 hours a week, sometimes it has meant 15 hours a month. At times unfulfilling as SAHD in sea of SAHM around us. And his family is far away, close but not great long-distance communicators, and for several years I was all he had, and he hated that everything involved my friends, my family. In time he made HIS friends that knew him as him, not as my husband or my parents' son-in-law. It took TIME. He did it mostly through becoming very active in a hobby (home brew), he is now president and spends a lot of (volunteer) time on that, but it gives him a great sense of accomplishment. But we go back and forth being jealous of one another, me missing the boys, him wanting more success (he is actually more gold-star driven than money-driven, which is good, and doesn't mind staying at home for days at a time, which is awesome). Should we both work eventually, or not? Both part time, or not? Should I find a more fulfilling job? What would he do? What would that mean for the boys? All other options basically involve both of us working or us making a lot less money, at least at first, and I love the flexibility of him being at home, and what it affords our family in terms of being close (meeting up for lunch, etc.) He is not actively looking for a job but we talk about the future a lot as you ramble about above. And I hear you too on wanting to cry when colleagues that make that difference to job satisfaction decide they need to leave!

  4. Okay I didn't mean to make rambling sound like a bad thing! I guess what I meant is, the "what if what if". Which is so much harder when you have a long week at work, not enough time with kids one weekend, etc. We are not paying for childcare at all (well preschool but we'd do that any way) and so that makes a big difference. We have one in Kindergarten now, so that makes a difference too... once they are both there, would I be fine if we both worked full time? Maybe, maybe not. What about summers? what if someone was sick? We have gotten spoiled by being able to be so involved, but would our overall happiness be higher if we both had full time jobs (and by both having jobs, both have the flexibility to look for fulfillment not big bucks). Questions, questions, just have to keep moving for now... he is so unsure about what he could do after being out of FT work so long, for how much, and which field (money or passion) to pursue...

  5. Why can't JP be a stay-at-home dad until he finds a job? If not, can Claire at least go to daycare part time? My husband graduated law school and had a hard time getting into the Bar, so he was a SAHD with our son until he was able to find a job. It helped out SO much.

    Sorry things are rough right now, but this too shall pass!!

  6. We talk about that a lot, but there's a few problems with any kind of part-time care for Clairebear: (1) our daycare doesn't have a part-time option for babies and we adore that room and the teachers and I don't want to start at another center or have the kids in two different places; (2) JP's coaching schedule does require some childcare in the morning and afternoons; and (3) it took us 2 years to get Landon into the neighborhood center and should JP get a job, I don't want to be on a wait list again.

    JP's coaching pay covers Claire's daycare cost + his minimum loan payment, so that's something, and he loves it and it keeps him in the community and working with people, but if we'd known at the start of the daycare year in August what we know now re: his employment, things might be different. Though, I don't know, the job searching and interviews does take a lot of time, so I'm glad Claire is being loved on at daycare (seriously, those ladies looove her) while JP is hunched over his laptop and talking on the phone. And JP picks the kids up early and takes them to the park on the days he doesn't have afternoon lessons. So I guess that while I do begrudge the cost of daycare a little, and I wish he made more to help make it less of an overall percentage of our take-home pay, our daycare is a pretty positive part of our life (and JP's coaching is definitely a positive thing for him), so it's not the first thing I'd change.

    (Sorry, that was rambly, and probably written out more for my benefit than yours :)

  7. Thanks for this post. Honestly, LL, I don't know a biglaw lawyer in the world who doesnt have at least some struggle about the job and whether it's what he/she really wants. That you have lasted nearly three years into it and are just now having some pangs, to me, shows that you are top-notch, have a great attitude, and generally cut out for the job.

    As to the marriage issues, two careers are hard. no two ways about it. my husband and i do it by combination of great childcare (nanny for the younger one, preschool the older), hired help (cleaning lady), very short commutes, and the fact that he has been at his job a very long time and has some seniority. but no doubt that having one SAHP is a model that works well for the non-SAHP's career.

    For missing the kids, I'm sorry. I struggle too. Full time is a lot of time away from them. I guess I see your struggle with Claire more than Landon as a good thing - you've bonded more quickly and deeply with Claire, whereas it took more time with Landon. This is a good thing! I agree the baby phase goes by so fast. Sigh.

    so what does JP say about all this? is his heart really in getting a job? is a move to another place your firm has an office really an option?

  8. Big hugs. I've been there (and am there to a certain extent) and I know how hard it is to be both the person looking for work and the cheerleader - neither is easy. Did I say hugs? I really mean it. :)

  9. Big hugs. Wish we could get a big ole glass of wine and talk it out.
    Thanks for keeping it real, as always.
    Treat yourself to a hot bath and some Clairebear snuggles tonight.

  10. seriously, what is the deal with Austin? Before we moved here, I heard all of these reports about how it was the best city EVER to find work...I guess I didn't read the fine print stating that's only true if you're in a tech-type field. It took my husband months to find an accounting job.

    I hope things start looking up soon. Uncertainty is just so hard!

  11. I only comment every once in a great while, but I just wanted to say that your feelings about working vs. staying at home are universal. I have a 21 month old son, and I went back to work when he was 15 months old (my company went under when I was 6 mos pregnant, and then we relocated out of state). I appreciate the fact that you have always been very open about feeling like you're a better parent BECAUSE you work. I feel the same way. However, at least once a week I do feel torn as I drop him off at I'm missing so much I can't get back. Especially now that the job isn't quite what I thought it would be (or was led to believe).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I appreciate your frankness and honesty on your blog. It makes many of us feel like we're not alone when we face many of the same issues. I truly hope you get some clarity and resolution sooner rather than later. Keep up the great writing.

  12. Things have to improve soon...that is so much weight you are carrying on your shoulders.

    And this is only tangentially related to you mourning Claire's babyhood...but I totally worry that I'll have a hard time going back to work after baby #2 is born because I basically spent the first 22 months of Timmy's life with him. It doesn't seem fair, to the baby or me, that this time it should only be 4 months.

    I know you know that what you're feeling is normal and completely understandable, so telling you "I get it" may not be helpful. But just know that everyone is pulling for you!

  13. So much of this post rings true for me. I hear you on almost all of it (except the husband trying to find work part). I used to kind of envy you and the way that you never seemed to struggle with your decision to be a working mom especially when I struggled with it on a weekly basis. I guess it is just a natural and inevitable part of the role.

    I really hope you find a great new opportunity in your current firm or elsewhere. Also, I completely agree that the people we work with play a huge role in our job satisfaction. We see them daily and they become a huge part of our lives. I think the people you work with can make or break your job.

    Good luck to you- hope you find your answers.

  14. Oh LL, I feel for you! Have been in similar shoes on and off for quite some time. There are no easy answers. My DH is also a UT MBA grad (2002) and sadly both he and many of his classmates have had similar experiences to JP. It is not easy!

    Can also say that I toughed out 8 years of biglaw (including a stint in Austin). Personalities matter a great deal. I have also cried over the loss of work friends who made the drudgery moments bearable. At least you know why you are working! You have some pretty important mouths to feed! This has always been a good motivator for me when I'm stuck with work that doesn't inspire. And keep your eye out for a project that intrigues--don't be shy about making your interests known!

    One piece of advice: if you can continue to swing the daycare for both kids financially (even if it is a strain), don't listen to those who rationalize that you should should save the money by having JP stay home with them. He needs outlets (for job-searching and otherwise) and it is hard to be a SAHD. You have to give him some slack and not expect 100% efficiency in use of his time. Trust me, I have been in your shoes exactly, asking the same questions. You know how you would do it differently if roles were reversed (I am a lot like you I think!). I am rooting for JP (and you!). I think you have both got it tough, and the career paths will become clearer and get worked out. Try to give him some latitude (I know it's hard!)

    BTW, I think it's impossible to be a mom and not have some wistful moments about your babies growing up! (whether you stay at home or not)

  15. A wise and true post, and wise comments from Anonymous. I am in similar shoes myself.

  16. I just want to say, even though your life really is pretty good, it's really okay to feel sad sometimes. There are times when things just aren't going our way, and really, it's okay to say "well this just sucks". But it will get better. I think you posted this Robert Frost quote once...."In three words I can summarize everything I've learned about life: it goes on." I loved it so much I wrote it down and put in on a post it note on my desk. I look at it frequently. I've been working full time for over 17 years now, my kids are 8 and 11. Every stage of the game has had great fun, hard days and lots of in between. Hang in there. Best of luck to you and JP. Whatever comes you will face it with grace, that much is clear.

  17. I appreciate your honesty. I have a husband who was a student for the first 5 years of our marriage, and is now slowly working at getting licensed in a quasi-medical field. It seems like it has been taking forever! It gets overwhelming at times, to know that I am the main breadwinner. While I am independent, there are times I want to be a June Cleaver. Just for a little while. Trying to balance it all is exhausting. And, as someone who always wants to give 100%, it is hard not to feel some sense of failure when I just can't give 100% to my job, 100% to my daughter and 100% to my husband. It's just hard. And, while our situations aren't the same, exactly, I get it. And, it helps to know others get it and feel it and live it, too.

  18. Hugs to you, LL (and a bottle of wine, to boot). My situation is NOTHING like yours right now - I'm the SAHP who doesn't want to be and kicks myself over what I could have done differently five and ten years ago - but your statements about it just being HARD sometimes strongly resonated with me. Sometimes it just IS. I'm so thankful that my not working doesn't create a true financial hardship for us - we're a bit like you guys, I think, in that it sure would be nice to have that additional income, but we're not in danger of losing our house or not being able to buy food - but it's still no fun. You wish for more time with your kids; I'm completely burned out and wish for less. Two sides of the coin, I guess.

    I think it's great that you have Claire in daycare, by the way. With a four-year-old and two-year-old and all the household stuff, it takes me a ridiculously long time to get any resumes out. I would say that about fifty percent of the time, by the time I manage to submit my application they've already filled the position. It's really impossible to get anything done on a regular basis with little kids around, and I think that JP has a MUCH better chance of finding work soon with the kids in care.

    I hope things get better for you soon!

  19. LL, so hard! Know that we all feel for you, and you really are an amazing woman -- it is impossible to do both motherhood and BigLaw perfectly, but I have never seen anyone manage the balance better than you!

    I went to law school and then got pregnant with our second child in February before graduation. This was in 2009 and I couldn't find a job anyway -- and certainly not while I was pregnant. So I stayed home for awhile and recently tried to hang out my shingle -- which has been a disaster financailly too. But my husband has never once blamed me. He has shown amazing patience with me, and his understanding and support has been the biggest blessing another human has willingly bestowed upon me.

    Bless your husband too. Let go of the business. Your marriage and your future are worth so much more than that. You guys are still so young. You have time. Everything else will pass, but the love you give your husband will last forever. Don't mention it again -- ever. When he bemoans it, just hug him, tell him you love him and it is in the past, and the future is going to be so much brighter. And it will be.

  20. LL, I had a long post typed out and my computer ate it... but I wanted to send you a virtual hug. Just know that you're not alone. While my husband is not underemployed, he does make considerably less than I do, which has led to some resentment on my part. However, I agree that how resentful I feel depends on how happy I am in my job. Now that things are going swimmingly at work again, I am a lot happier and barely even think about becoming a SAHM (impossible on DH's salary).

    As a more senior lawyer, my main advice is to remind you that if you are interested in changing your practice, you need to do it in the near future, or you'll be an IP lawyer for a long time. As far as changing jobs, the sweet spot is between your 2nd year and the end of your 5th/beginning of your 6th year. After that, it's really hard to lateral without a million dollar book of business.

    Anyway, I am sending best wishes to you and your family. The balance between motherhood and lawyer-hood is a tough one. No one balancing both is content at all times with the balance. Also, I feel the same way about E. I wish I could bottle her cuteness and keep it forever. The baby stage goes so fast!

  21. Oh geeze. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your heart. I could have written a lot of the same sentiments about JP looking for employment with regards to our current situation. With Z getting out of the army and no concrete plans about what is next it puts a scary amount of pressure on me (I adore my new job, but still). I know he is desperate to find something, but my Type-A self can't help but want to shake him and say "do SOMETHING!!". All the while, I just want him to be happy and the military was not providing that for him or for us or our future family. And, I can't help but feel heartbroken for him. He is such a hard worker, is brilliant and has great experience, but the market just stinks right now. It's a struggle trying to figure out how I feel about the situation each day, ha!

    Any how, I don't think you are alone. At all. Judging by the comments on this post, we may not all be walking the exact same path, but we can understand the feelings and the pressures.

    Hang in there.

  22. Posts like these are why I keep reading Blogs. In a way it makes me feel comforted to know that we all go through similar struggles in life and that I am not alone in the anxieties and fears that I sometimes experience. It is part of being human I guess. I especially appreciate your honesty as I look up to you a lot in the way that you consistently keep such a positive perspective and you balance your work and family life so well.

    The way you describe your relationship with JP reminds me so much of my own relationship with my husband. And I too am a lawyer and the higher wage earner and experience the same frustrations as well.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your heart. You are doing an amazing job and the struggles will pass, they always do.

    - Leanne