If you are reading this post, then you are reading my first ever blog post on this crazy thing called the Internet. Amazing, huh? You would think that a 30-something, relatively computer literate woman wouldn't be so mystified by this introduction into blogging, but let's just say that getting this thing up and running has taken much longer than I ever thought possible. Not to mention the fact that, design-wise, my pre-schooler could have done a much better job. Invariably. Anyway, here goes nothing . . .
So, for my first post, I opted to link up with Colleen and answer her "Working Moms Link-Up" questions. Here goes:
1) What do you do for work and why do you work?
I'm a lawyer. Big firm. Real estate litigation and commercial litigation. Fun times! I work because, well, I'm good at it (insert modesty self-sensor here!), it's interesting work, and we need the cash to support our growing family.
2) Did your mother work?
Yes, she did. As a single mother, she had to work. Even when my parents were married and I was a wee little one, she worked. Back then, she ran a home daycare. After my parents divorced, she entered the workforce, first in the paper industry, then in printing, and now in HR, Payroll, and Tax servicing for small businesses. In fact, I don't ever remember a time when she didn't work (probably because such a time never existed in my lifetime).
3) Describe a typical work day.
That's a bit of a toughie. My days can vary greatly depending what is on my work calendar. But, generally, it's an early morning wake-up call, whether by the alarm or by my children. Sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., but earlier if I want to exercise (and, considering I'm not a morning person, you can probably guess how often that happens!). I usually drive my oldest (he's 3) to pre-school, which means that it is a mad dash to get out of the house by 7:15 a.m. Wake. Whip up a quick breakfast (usually Eggos, yogurt, and/or cereal bars) for the boys. Shower. Dress. Pack my pre-schooler's snack and lunch (if it's not a hot lunch day). Dress my pre-schooler. Lay out the clothes for my two-year-old and baby (most days, my husband will change and dress them, but sometimes I will depending on hubby's work schedule because, yes, he works too). Make sure the baby is happy and doesn't need a "top-off" nursing session to survive the morning madness. Pack my breast pump and cooler bags. Pack my lunch. Pack my make-up (to apply in the car). Make sure everyone is eating breakfast. Glance around at the mess that is my house and maybe empty the dishwasher or switch the laundry if there is time. Grab my pre-schooler's backpack, my assortment of work and breast-pump bags and purse/diaper bag, and run out of the house to load the pre-schooler in the car. Get him loaded. Realize I have forgotten my cell phone, hair clips, whatever else. Run back inside. Grab these items. Run back outside and navigate traffic to get my pre-schooler to school. Once I walk him in and drop him off, then it's off to work for me. In the meantime, my husband is getting the two-year-old and the baby off to their daycare center.
Once at work, my schedule varies based on whether I have to be in court, in client meetings/lunches, or in the office writing motions, pleadings, memos, correspondence, etc. I have to account for my time via the dreaded billable hour, so it's always busy. In there, I have to fit 2-3 pumping sessions for the baby. I usually look at the clock with dread at 6 p.m., realizing that I haven't accomplished nearly a quarter of what I wanted to do that day. Uggh. Then, there is the mad dash home and the struggle to figure out dinner (not a struggle if I've planned in advance, but well . . . yeah, not always on top of that). Then, it is bath time, bedtime for our pre-schooler and our two-year-old, prayer time, and nursing time. By 8:30/9:00 p.m., my husband and I are usually sinking into the couch for "our time" together (and with the baby since he doesn't go to bed until we do), which hopefully isn't interrupted by our jobs overflowing out of "business hours". We usually try to talk and watch some TV before falling into bed to do it all over again. It is truly a labor of love, but definitely not without the "labor" part!
Then, let's not forget the days where I have to fly to different parts of the state to attend hearings, or make my way across town to attend continuing legal education courses, or attend firm events or "networking" gatherings. Those can interrupt any portion of my day (early morning, lunch, after business hours, or even last the entire day). Sometimes, they require me to be away from my family overnight, but thank God that is rare. Then, there are the days where my husband and I switch kids for the morning drop-off and evening pick-up due to his meeting/work schedule. Just keeping up with where we have to be and when can be a full-time job!
4) What's the best part about having a job?
For me, the best part is that it keeps my head in the game. I'm more focused and more productive when I have to get out of the house every day. My time "off" (ha!) on maternity leave time is proof of this. Granted, working outside of the home is very hard, but it gives my days more purpose and structure than they would have otherwise because I'm just not as organized or task-oriented when I'm home during the day. (Most moms who stay home seem to be much better at this than I am! Mad props to them!) The paycheck is nice too!
5) What's your least favorite part?
The hours of time it consumes. Which is ironic given my answer to #4, but it is true too. Sometimes, I just want to have to do less.
6) What would make your life easier?
A live-in nanny, butler, secretary, chef, and chauffeur. Hmmmmm, what am I forgetting? Oh yeah, winning the lottery!!! Come on, PowerBall!
7) How do your children handle their mom's career?
They have never known anything different since I have always worked outside of the home, so they take it in stride. Sometimes, they will say something to the effect of "I don't want to go to school" and/or "I wish I could stay home all day with you, Mama", which breaks my heart. Those moments are hard. But I've also tried to explain to them that most grown-ups need to work in order to have enough money to buy food and pay for a home, clothes, and (most important to them) toys and fun outings. They seem to get this, and their understanding on this point comforts me a little.
8) Do you feel supported in what you do?
Most of the time, I really do. My source of support is my family (not my career/law firm or anyone I work with -- see answer to next question). While I know my husband sometimes wishes that I could be on perpetual maternity leave to make our lives easier, he really values my career and knows how important it is to me and to the well-being of our family. The rest of my extended family (parents, etc.) would probably be disappointed if I stopped working given my academic accomplishments and how hard I worked to complete my education. So, they support me.
The hardest part is when I have a bad day and feel like I've reached my "breaking point", but I don't have anyone to back me up. On those days, I just really need some outside help, but, inevitably, everyone I know will be overwhelmed with their own lives and responsibilities and unable to pitch-hit for me. At those times, it can feel isolating/lonely and/or like I'm fighting a losing battle. But I try to just keep chugging and maintain a strong front. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't go as well. I do my best. And I pray. A lot!
9) What are your future goals when it comes to work/motherhood?
Career-wise, I am on partnership track and hope to make partner in the next year or two. I put that in God's hands. I believe He has me in this place in my career for a good reason, and although I don't understand it, I trust him. My success is from him.
Mom-wise, I have placed my fertility in God's hands. As a result, I expect I will have more children. I hope I get a girl at some point! While it is scary because I don't know that we can handle any more children on top of everything else, I know that God will provide somehow, some way. My biggest worry (and the one that I keep mentioning to God in prayer) is how I will continue to balance my career and my family. He seems to want me to keep going with my career and continue multiplying the children. Admittedly, my law firm is probably (definitely?) not all that thrilled with that arrangement. A lot of my co-workers (and other people too, it seems) ask when I will be done having children (and I have yet to figure out a good answer to that one! Any suggestions?). That's a tough one for me because I feel like each pregnancy is a "disappointment" to them. God whispers to me that it is an opportunity to "witness", but it's still hard. I'm not yet sure at all how God wants me to combine fertility with my career, and I'm sorely lacking for role models in this area . . .
10) What are some tips that help you balance it all?
Take it one day at a time. One minute at a time, if you have to. Looking to the larger picture/future is too overwhelming. And do the best you can in each moment you have. That's all you can do. And pray a lot. If God is with you and guiding you each day, then your "best" will be more than enough.
P.S. Thanks to Colleen for posting this great link-up!