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Being a lawyer and a mother

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by MissStepcut, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Loves Vintage
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    by Loves Vintage » Mar 11, 2012
    MSC - I'm really sorry about some of the things that have been posted in this thread. Given that you have known about your pregnancy for five days, I really wish some posters would cut you some slack. This IS the time that you are supposed to be figuring things out! Obviously, you are here, being VERY open, and trying to seek some guidance to help you and your future husband figure these things out. I offer you my sincere empathy and support in what must surely be an emotional time for you.

    I recall that you posted previously about big law and parenting. I find it EXTREMELY OFF-PUTTING that anyone on here would outright question your desire to parent this child or ask you why you are having this baby or suggest that you consider not having this child. You do not have to justify your choice to anyone, and certainly not to us. I will say that there have been a few threads over the years where posters sought support following their decisions to terminate unplanned pregnancies. If anyone dare had the nerve to suggest that said poster consider alternatives or to think deeply about the effects that such a decision might have down-the-road, well the posters offering such advice were immediately shut-down. It is the woman's choice, after all. And, now, here, at least three posters have suggested that you consider terminating your pregnancy. I just think that is such a horrible thing to say to you at this time, and I am surprised, though perhaps I shouldn't be, that no one has come out and said this already, given the immediate shut-down that has occurred in the prior threads I mentioned. WOW. No need to respond to this point. I suppose I just wanted to comment on the contrast between the two situations.

    I think you came here with good intentions looking for advice. I am sure you will work things out, maybe not as originally planned, but you will figure out a way. As others have said, you are certainly not the first to be in this situation. One day at a time makes so much sense now.

    On a positive note, I am really glad to hear that your FMIL wants to be so involved. If there was one thing I wish I had now, in raising our daughter, it is more family support. You will find, as you prepare for baby, that there are seemingly endless things to acquire to help things go smoothly. Family support is so invaluable, and yet something that you can't just acquire. You are very lucky in that regard.

    I also wanted to address the issue of telling your summer employer about your pregnancy. I agree that you should tell them in advance. Maybe someone with big law experience could offer advice on when that should be done. Not sure when you expect to be on the phone with someone from the summer firm -- I don't recall having much correspondence with my summer firm (after accepting the offer and prior to starting). I think it's really important that they know in advance. I worked for two firms (one summer, and then FT at another smaller firm after a clerkship.) Both firms were extremely gossipy. I think letting them know in advance helps you control the situation more. If you inform them in advance, everyone will inevitably be told that one of the summers is pregnant, so when you arrive, it's not a big to-do, and everyone can gossip about someone else. I also think, if it is your intention to stay at this firm, that you really need to paint the picture for everyone (whatever it winds up being at that point), that even though your future-DH is now working in NYC, that he plans to move, or if he plans to stay there, that you fully intend to live in separate cities. If you don't consistently and frequently make this clear, then I think they would assume that you plan to move to NYC after graduation.

    I think those are all of my random comments at the moment. Of course, you don't need an invitation, but when you are ready, you should post in the pregnancy threads here. Everyone is so supportive and gives great advice. I wish you all the best. Take good care of yourself and that little baby. :))
     
  2. missy
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    by missy » Mar 11, 2012
    NB, I agree that how great a mom (and parents) one can be has so much more to do with the quality of the time and not just the quantity. But, when one is just starting out in one's chosen profession (and we are talking specifically about big law firms here) it is near impossible to have the time and energy to do both amazingly. Something is going to have to give. Period. You and your dh waited until you were a bit further along in your careers and that helped a lot. I think one can be an amazing mom and a professional career woman but there are still only 24 hours in a day...
     
  3. NovemberBride
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    by NovemberBride » Mar 11, 2012
    I want to defend OP a bit from all these posts stating that everything changes when you have a child, your career aspirations change, you won't want to work as much, etc. That may be true for some of you, but it is not true for everyone. It is not true for me. I love my daughter more than anything, but I very much want to advance my career. I do not currently, and have never considered working part time because that would not allow me to reach my career goals. Also, I would hate being a stay-at-home mom and frankly would not be very good at it. That said, I am most certainly raising my own child. Her father and I make all the decisions about her upbringing. She has never once had any confusion about who her parents are. She is a happy and well-adjusted child.

    MIss Stepcut, I stand by my original statements that your original situation (long-distance, two junior associates in biglaw, no local childcare) is untenable. But I whole heartedly disagree that everything you have planned for your life has to change and you should abandon your dreams and start working part-time in a dead-end job. I know I were in your shoes that would have made me miserable and I suspect you'd feel the same from your posts. Maybe your whole perspective will change when baby arrives, but then again, maybe it won't. I think with a few adjustments as you've mentioned in this thread, it is doable. Hard, but doable. And I don't think your child will necessarily suffer because of it, as some on this thread have stated.
     
  4. mrscushion
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    by mrscushion » Mar 11, 2012
    I am in complete agreement with this post. Well said, NB.

    To the OP, congratulations. I doubt you will be able to pull off the original plan you laid out in your first post, but I also think that you don't have to throw away your career plans, given how important they are to you (and rightfully so). I wish you the best of luck.
     
    


    


  5. Jennifer W
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    by Jennifer W » Mar 11, 2012

    Well said, NovemberBride. I wanted to respond to this, but you beat me to it (and more eloquently than I would have managed, too).

    I'd add that some of the 'normal mothers' even right here on PS haven't had a feeling of being totally and completely in love with their baby. Some of them haven't been able to bond straight away (like millions of other women out there) and some have suffered from post partum depression. A few have been brave enough to share their very difficult experiences here, to help and support other women. One of the amazing things about PS is the support you can get from others in the difficult times. Posts like this do rather undermine that spirit, sadly.

    MSC, welcome to pregnancy - you'll get an awful lot of advice from here on in. Seriously, I'd like to collect all my favourite bits in a book one of these days... :bigsmile:
     
  6. Circe
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    by Circe » Mar 11, 2012
    Another huzzah for NB - you're hitting a lot of what's making me feel uneasy about this thread. Because, yeah, long distance AND long commute AND etc. sounded like a bit much, but, a) that doesn't mean MSC deserves to be landed on with both feet, and, b) that doesn't mean MSC suddenly needs to be a completely different human being to be a good mother.

    For what it's worth, I think that one of the reasons there's so much friction between SAHMs and WMs is, quite simply, that deep in their heart-of-hearts a lot of women (not all, but a lot), wonder what would have taken the other road in the fork. And for some? That means every debate is personal, and that manifests as needing to down the alternative in order to be happy with their choice.

    I wince, but I guess I could be described as having taken a part-time dead-end job because of/upon starting a family: my husband got transferred the week I found out I was pregnant, and I wound up giving a tenure-track job; now I adjunct. It works better in my line of work than it does in law, I think, because while I lost a lot of prestige, I didn't lose that much money. Few people ever come out and say so directly, but one of the reasons why women's careers are frequently the thing that "gives?" They earn less. MSC is looking to be the exception there, and given that, I'm a little surprised to hear how many people are counseling that she plan to give up her dreams - why not the father? Why not both adjusting their career expectations? Lots of unexamined assumptions in play.

    P.S. - The salary difference between me and my husband is big enough that his salary could have stomped mine the way Gojira stomped Tokyo. So, having made the choices we made, I could be a SAHM full time if the spirit took me. Instead, I went back to teaching when he was two months (admittedly part-time this term, but, still) because I love teaching and I'd be a different person if I were to stop cold turkey. One of the reasons I'm comfortable with the choices that I made is that I DO still get to do what I love, if all-while enjoying a nice slice of humble pie, and the incredulous looks of my colleagues. Doesn't mean I love my son any less - just means he gets one more person who adores him in his life, in the person of my best friend who watches him while I teach. Can't see why an extended family is a thing to condemn rather than a reason to celebrate ....

    P.P.S. - Sorry about the novel! As this thread proves in general, this topic stabs right to the heart for a lot of women, myself included.
     
  7. swimmer
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    by swimmer » Mar 11, 2012
    Just hugs. The road ahead is full of unknowns (that goes for everyone on the planet). We all have a few regrets, we all have some guilt.

    Yup, your original plan made me break out in a cold sweat, but hopefully mulling it over you will find something that will support you all as a family. There are options beyond biglaw. A family member went to work for a company that you use all the time to do legal searches...she works 9-5 or less and makes enough to live very well in NYC. She can be with her baby, pay off the loans, plus have the awesome nanny. Her DH works a hard core 55hrs a week job and they make it work without any family help. She didn't downsize her plans, she just adjusted them and while she has some guilt, I figure everyone does, no matter what path they choose. Keep on looking into your options :read: and you will figure something out.
     
  8. Jennifer W
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    by Jennifer W » Mar 11, 2012
    Circe, nicely put. I do find aspects of this debate quite strange, I will admit. I don't know any SAHMs. It's pretty rare where I live and even more rare to be through choice. My mother worked, her mother worked, her mother worked, I work, I expect that my daughter will work. No criticism of SAHMs, but rather an observation that this does seem to be a very US-centred discussion that I'd never really come across before. I could speculate as to all the reasons why, but I suspect that one of them is the very short period of maternity leave, measured in weeks rather than months, that many women have. Faced with the choice, I'm not entirely certain I could have returned to work at 6 weeks. Not sure (and no judgement implied). This seems to be one aspect Miss Stepcut isn't faced with, and ten months should give enough time to figure things out 'in the trenches', in a way that perhaps 6 weeks wouldn't.

    I will say, when I first found out I was pregnant, I made all sorts of decisions that I later revised. No shame in that. No need to have it all set in stone in the first weeks of a pregnancy, either. It will be ok!
     
  9. winternight
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    by winternight » Mar 11, 2012
    I agree with Sillyberry - working moms are beaten up in this thread. Parenting vs breeding? Are you kidding me? Why be so nasty? Not bonding with your child? And it's terrible because grandmom is a caretaker? Mine was for me and it made us closer.

    Op, some of these comments reminded me of what I heard when I was interviewing by moms I knew that were SAHM or working part time. And generally gov't lawyers tend to tell you the parade of horribles re private practice. Reading this thread you'd forget that children eventually go to school for part of the day. I will tell you that it's work but it has gotten easier now that my daughter is older.

    You're a little older and you have great family support. You can try out a firm for 1-2 years and move and have better options to move once you're done. Plus you get a higher salary coming into gov't from a law firm - I have a friend out earning her manager due to that. Having a baby changes things but does not swallow your compete being like an alien takeover at least it didn't for me. I know for a fact some SAHM moms regret giving up their careers and some of them just seem so lost when the children are school aged. Plus the financial pressure on the dads - I've heard lots of guys complain at work. Besides maybe you and your so will be a public/private mix for jobs like me and my dh used to be.
     
  10. Autumnovember
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    by Autumnovember » Mar 11, 2012

    I'm following this thread and I really didn't want to say anything but it's bothering me - as someone who is now "looking in" I really do not see how this thread is beating up working moms. There is a HUGE difference between working a 40 hour week and a 60 hour week and I believe THAT is what some people here are trying to point out, NOT that working moms are somehow less of a mom because they have careers.
     
    


    


  11. NovemberBride
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    by NovemberBride » Mar 11, 2012
    And I think the point some of us are trying to make is that you can work a 60 hour week and still be a good mother!
     
  12. decodelighted
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    by decodelighted » Mar 11, 2012
    It didn't sound that way to me. From what I gathered in MSC's posts - her future fiance has been more successful than she in landing a NYC big law job. And all would have carried on that way if these events hadn't transpired. With her following a 2nd tier market path for awhile. The only time she was expecting to make "more" -- was if he took a clerkship WHILE she was in 2nd tier biglaw. And certainly that would be a career move that would benefit HIM in the long run anyway -- and he'd leap frog her salary again!

    In my sister's case - she's had the "bigger" law career than her husband -- financially & prestige-wise. But still retained the lionshare of child care issues. Sucks to be a woman.
     
  13. Autumnovember
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    by Autumnovember » Mar 11, 2012
    NB, you can be. For sure. But here is what I'm trying to say, (and I think everyone here knows how much I suck at articulating my thoughts) you can be a fantastic mom in many different circumstances and also a bad mom even if you have all the time in the world. I think the advice is truly very valuable that MSC has gotten here and its so important to be able to hear about all different experiences. However, we all know that her plans can go many different ways and end up completely different than anyone has suggested too. I just don't think it needs to be a *debate*. I understand why it comes so close to many hearts. Can we agree that working a ton of hours while having a newborn IS more difficult? The possibilities are endless and because of the good advice from this thread, MSC can spend some time thinking about the options that she has based on the advice and I really believe she'll make a good decision that she see's best fit from this thread..
     
  14. sillyberry
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    by sillyberry » Mar 11, 2012
    MSC, I thought some more about this last night, and have some concrete thoughts:

    If your FMIL is in DC, and she is prepared to be a caregiver, I would recommend doing your best to get both you and FI there. Some concrete steps/questions:

    (1) Is FI at a firm with a DC office? Could he be transferred?
    (2) You said he's applying to a Fed Circuit clerkship. Is he applying to other DC clerkships as well? I would recommend he apply broadly.
    (3) You are planning to graduate in December? Where were you planning on spending your 3L spring?

    What I would do in an ideal world to make your goals happen: graduate in December, move to DC (hopefully with FI having already moved there). Make sure you have LOTS of help to pack/move. Spend the spring with baby while FI works biglaw, saving money as aggressively as possible. Take the Bar in July with MIL watching the baby during the day (with a regular schedule, Bar studying for most of the two months can be done 9-5). FI moves to a clerkship, you start a firm job OR FI stays with biglaw and you find something less time consuming (government: Fed, DC, MD/VA, small firm, contract work, non-profit -- look into your school's LRAP program). Having both of you NOT be junior associates at the same time is the goal. MIL takes care of baby during the day, probably combined with daycare. One of you is available to pick the little one up at night having a regular schedule. You then figure things out from there, recognizing flexibility and humor is the vital key.

    Obviously there are steps in that plan that may not be possible, either because it doesn't work professionally, because the baby situation is different than expected (Charbie's point is well-taken), because having your MIL involved doesn't work, or because your desires change. You both might still find this overwhelming as a young married couple and change course. Regardless, it will not be easy, it will require discipline (the end of procrastination as you know it!), but I think you can at least work towards those steps as the best possible outcome.
     
  15. Pandora II
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    by Pandora II » Mar 11, 2012
    I don't think there is anything wrong in being a working mother with long hours or that they are less of a mother or anything of that sort.

    I do think that in the OPs situation that compromise is probably going to be the route that will have to be taken.

    Currently my DH works long hours - he leaves for work at 7.30am and is home before 10pm maybe one night a week. However weekends are completely free other than 3 a year. On top of that he gets 6 weeks holiday plus all statutory days so plenty of time to spend with us.

    I run my own business and have very flexible hours. When she was 2 I put DD into nursery for 2 days a week and now 3 days a week. My child is on the extreme end of challenging and I totally admit that come Monday night I can't wait for her to go to nursery the next day. I also feel no guilt in sending her off to nursery - I now spend Mondays and Fridays doing 'Daisy Days' and she has loads of fun at nursery. When she was with me all week I felt guilty if I took time for me!

    It works very well for us now.

    The things I didn't realise could happen before I had a baby:

    - all babies are different and most haven't read the manual. Mine didn't get the message that new-borns sleep 12 hours+ a day.

    - the photos of babies cooing in their pram/bouncer/swing are designed to make some mothers homicidal. DD was only happy strapped to me in a sling - otherwise she screamed.

    - babysitters can fire you. For around a year DH and I couldn't go out as babysitters wouldn't come and look after DD for us - she could scream for 4 hours non-stop.

    -children don't give you a break. Even now that she is nearly 3, at the most I get about 30 minutes of time to do anything on the computer. The idea that I could guarantee having x number of hours to work every evening is la-la-land - unless I had a babysitter on hand to take her. I often do get an evening where she's in bed at 8.30pm, but just as often she's up again at 10pm with tummy ache, can't sleep or whatever. Children who don't see their parents much during the day are even more prone to this.

    - the things you need time during normal hours for... looking round schools - I have 12 to see in the next couple of months, meetings with childcare people, hospital appointments etc

    - above all, that everything takes three times as long.
     
    


    


  16. MissStepcut
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    by MissStepcut » Mar 11, 2012
    Sillyberry:
    (1) Is FI at a firm with a DC office? Could he be transferred?
    He wouldn't have a difficult time getting to DC. He has an engineering background and magna grades and a firm that's told him to contact them if he ever changes his mind about NY.
    (2) You said he's applying to a Fed Circuit clerkship. Is he applying to other DC clerkships as well? I would recommend he apply broadly.
    We have been talking a bit about how "broad" broad can be for him. I realize clerkship hiring can be pretty unpredictable.
    (3) You are planning to graduate in December? Where were you planning on spending your 3L spring?
    My original plan was to do bum around NY and do a little senior research. Now I am thinking lots of baby-snuggling time and maybe still a little senior research. Your "ideal world" plan is not that far off from what I was thinking, for that semester and my bar summer. After that, there are a lot more unknowns. We can try to both take clerkships in opposite years. After that, we'll be in a different place, know what kind of baby we have (as Pandora pointed out, that's a big question!) and know what we can do next.

    I was a little surprised about what others feel has been an anti-working mom sentiment, since I read it that way too. But I am too new to all this to really weigh in. And, as has been said, I do not know how I will feel when the baby comes. All I know now is how I feel about protecting my career prospects and trajectory, and I feel that it's very important. I was raised by parents who worked long hours and weekends, so the idea that children really suffer from that is totally foreign to me. I loved after-school care, loved that my mom was a VP with a secretary, that my dad was a department director, and honestly never as a child wished for a SAHM instead. It sounds like some other people have had different experiences. That's when I guess I have to say, we'll have to take it as it comes and recalibrate if things aren't working for us.
     
  17. lulu
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    by lulu » Mar 11, 2012
    I spent many childhood hours wishing my sahm would get a job. She and I both would have been happier.
     
  18. FrekeChild
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    by FrekeChild » Mar 11, 2012
    You know MSC, I think you're going to be just fine, no matter what you guys end up doing. I think you're going to make it work for all of you.

    My mom was a SAHM. She worked for the VA for many years, building up her savings and retirement before she and my dad had a conversation that went kind of like this when I was 2 (from what I've been told):

    Mom: I missed Freke learning how to do _____ today. She's growing up so fast.
    Dad: Why don't you just quit your job and stay at home with her? Then you wouldn't miss anything anymore.
    Mom: Ok! I'll put in my two weeks on Monday!

    My point in bringing this up is plasticity (like with brains) if one aspect has a problem, the rest picks up where it left off. You're going to know what's best for you when it happens. You can make plans until the cows come home, but one thing I concluded 3.5 months ago was that nothing was going to go the way I planned anymore, and I had to learn to be flexible.

    So, my advice (disclaimer: as always, this is coming from MY experience and MY situation) is to try what you think is best, if it keeps working, great! If it stops working, then vary it, go a different direction.

    You're going to do just fine.
     
  19. diamondseeker2006
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    by diamondseeker2006 » Mar 11, 2012
    MSC...that is great that you can be there full time with your baby for 10 months! You may even find that tiring and be glad to go to work at that point! :)) There is something to be said for balance between home and work!

    But seriously, some of you are saying things that are false concerning my comments. I am not against working mothers. That would be pretty absurd considering I was one for many years! But as MOST of the mothers on this thread said (NeatFreak, Mara PrincessCath and several others), in order to put their children first, they made adjustments in their careers to make more TIME to be with their children. Most full-time jobs are around 9-5 or thereabouts for 5 days a week. But 12+ hour days 5 to 6 days a week leaves parents with very little time for the child. I'll stand by that statement and I'll have to stand with Gypsy's very powerful comments, too.
     
  20. packrat
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    by packrat » Mar 11, 2012
    For every adult you find that says they were raised by nannies/had parents who worked 18 hours a day/7 days a week and turned out fine so others can do it too, you'll find an adult who was raised by a SAHM and they turned out fine so others can do it too, and you'll also find the same amount who were raised by a 40 hour a week set of parents and they turned out fine so others can do it too-single moms can do it so others can too, single dads can do it so others can too. And, you'll find probably the same amount of people who were raised that way, whichever way above, and hated it and doesn't want to do that w/their own kids. Whaddya do? What works for some might not work for others, so you do what you do and your kid will either be thrilled to pieces w/what you did or vow to not do that to their own kid.

    My mom was a SAHM until I was in 5th grade. Dad worked (still works) overnights. We saw him a few hours in the mornings on weekends. Until I was in high school, kids in school didn't believe we really HAD a dad b/c nobody had ever seen him. He was like..the fricken Iowa Sasquatch or some shit. We laugh about it now but..it wasn't funny at the time.

    JD's more involved w/the kids than my dad was but he's still gone a lot, works 2nd shift so during the school year the only time he sees London is on the weekends. And he needs "guy downtime", so he's gone for that too. Unless he gets the new job he's applying for, it will be that way for Trapper this Fall when he starts Kindergarten.

    I had a bit of a peaches and cream Pollyanna outlook on how things would be after we had kids. And maybe it ends up Pollyanna for some, but it certainly didn't turn out that way here. The help I had planned on/counted on didn't pan out the way I planned on/counted on. I was left, still am left, and will continue to be left, with all of it to take care of myself, whether I work one day a week (as I do now thankfully) or 40 hours a week, which will start this fall probably. People who are on board w/things don't always stay on board w/things.

    I don't know where I'm going w/this..I had a reason behind it but after being interrupted.. (mom mom mom honey come look at this mom mom honey what if we did this mom mom mom)..the train has derailed and exploded.

    You can work a ton of hours and be a good parent. You can work a ton of hours and your kid end up not thinking you were a good parent, not appreciate what you see as sacrifices made to give them more down the road. You can stay home and be a good parent. You can stay home and your kid end up not thinking you were a good parent, not appreciate what you see as sacrifices made to spend lots of time w/them and raise them your way. It's a crap shoot, far as I can tell. You can have two kids, raised the same way, and one could grow up to appreciate the way they were raised and the other think it blew.

    Dad never came to our school functions when we were growing up. He was working. I appreciate that, NOW. But..it kinda woulda been nice sometimes to see my dad put US first as kids in a way that we understood, AS kids. When I was 8, I didn't understand "Daddy is working to put food on the table for us and so mommy can be home w/you", all I understood was that he was never there.
     
  21. mrs jam
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    by mrs jam » Mar 11, 2012
    Lulu, this post made me snort into my teacup! I can totally relate. My mom was a SAHM, and I remember feeling so envious of my friends who were what my mother referred to as "latch key kids." After a busy day at school, it would have been so peaceful to have had a couple of hours to myself at home. I have to say, though, that in my elementary school days, I looked forward to coming home to fresh-baked snacks.

    My mother used to tell me once I was older that she wished that she hadn't given up her career once she had us kids. Her Masters was in medical technology, and by the time my younger brother was in school full-time, she felt too intimidated to go back to work as she felt her career field had changed too drastically for her to ever catch up. I really think she would have been so much happier if she had been able to continue with her career. She made her kids her whole life, to the point where we all felt suffocated by her attention. Once my brothers and I had all grown up, I think it left a huge void in her life that her hobbies simply couldn't fill.
     
  22. missy
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    by missy » Mar 11, 2012
    I agree with everything you wrote Packrat. There is no one way works best for all. It all depends doesn't it? This thread shows the diversity that PSers have experienced- some of which worked quite well and some who thought it could have been done (a little or a lot) better.

    There is no roadmap that tells you how to be the best parent you can be. You sort of learn along the way and do the very best you can. I think what worried some posters here was that it seemed (and I don't think this pertains to you) the child is an afterthought and that part of your life will adapt to your career choices and come second. No, I just think you and your SO need time to absorb how your life is going to change in a big way and how your life is going to have to adapt to the child you are bringing into this world rather than the other way around.

    I also agree with Freke in that you will figure it out. This may not be the way you planned your life to be at this point in time but even the best laid plans change. What's that Yiddish proverb-"we make plans and g-d laughs". Well that's the way life goes much of the time. You are a smart person and you will figure it out. It won't be perfect but life isn't perfect. You'll be OK.
     
  23. Bella_mezzo
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Bella_mezzo » Mar 11, 2012
    Miss StepCut-First of all :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats on your pregnancy, on the new little life that is growing inside of you, and the exiting changes that are coming your way (they may be scary, but they are also exciting) and congrats on starting to ask questions and figure out a plan now--I think that those are all responsible, loving, and necessary parenting decisions. Yes, you have to make some hard decisions and set a foundation for changes now, but you also have 9 months to figure out some of the details.

    I think it's awesome that you'll have 10 months pretty much 24/7 with the baby and that you have a MIL who wants to and is able to help out. If you and FI live in the same city and try to keep your commutes as short as possible I think that will help a lot. You also both may make some difficult decisions and shifts in your career trajectories. Life is way bigger than careers (even when you have substantial student loan debt).

    FWIW-I became a mother last summer through adoption. Our son is now 3. He is very much loved and very much wanted, but our adoption went much faster than expected and along the way my DH was laid off. He's now in the middle of a career change, I am the sole-bread winner, and our family looks a little different than I thought it would (the plan was that I would work part-time, DH would work full-time, and he'd go to school at night to start his career change). Instead, I work full-time, DH doesn't work yet, he was home full-time with our son in the fall, is home with him 2 days a week now and our son goes to daycare 3 days a week, and I changed jobs in January b/c by former job was very anti-family, plus I'm still finishing my MBA. I find being the only breadwinner very stressful and can't wait for DH to get a job, even just something part-time. He just got his EMT certification and is applying for jobs now, so hopefully something will work out soon. He's doing post-bac classes to prepare for med school application

    My career plan was to go into management consulting or start my own business when I finished my MBA. That's not going to happen...at all. I can't be the kind of mother i want to be with an entry level consulting career and can't take the risk of starting a business right now. I love strategy and i love consulting and I would really love to work for myself, but that's not the right career path for me at this time. I currently work in the nonprofit sector and am continuing in that vein with a goal of executive director in the next 5-10 years, (previously the timeframe on that goal was 2-3 years) but, the job I started in january seems to be a decent fit for our family right now, and next year I am going to explore working from home 2 days week, so I'm not in any hurry to move up a rung on the career ladder just yet. I work 9:30-6:30ish and hate being away from my son. I really missing putting my son to bed on nights I have class or work events (which is 1-2 times/week). It would be very hard for me to be away from him more than this, no matter who was taking care of him. that being said, I'd feel way better if my mom were taking care of him. His daycare is decent, but not the same as family ;))

    DH and I have both made career changes (a former professional musician, he wants to go to med school, but will be doing a paramedic certificate next year so that he can work full-time during his lag year and part-time during med school). We will probably leave NYC when he gets into med school (we'll move where ever has the best combo of financial aid for him and high salary/low cost of living/best work-life balance for me) which will be a huge change for our family and for my career.

    Two years ago, I would not have seen any of this coming at all.

    I guess what I am saying is, keep doing your research and you and your FI both make the decisions/sacrifices that are best for your family as a whole and then you as individuals...no matter how much you plan, things will change. If you are both making decisions that are best for your family, it will work out.

    With my new job, I cut my commute in half (from 40 minutes to 20 minutes) and it has made a HUGE difference in quality of life/time with my son/peace of mind.
     
  24. Black Jade
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by Black Jade » Mar 11, 2012
    Wrote a long, long post--which jsut disappeared somehow into the ether as I clicked something I didn't mean to!
    so here's what I said in that post, much shorter.
    Congrats on both the baby and the impending law degree.
    I'm not a lawyer (and in fact I work only part time) but I have a lot of women among my friends and family who are lawyers AND mothers. I've seen them do this for twenty-five years now. They are all great mothers and great lawyers. I admire how all of their kids have turned out. Some are single mothers--some have husbands who are very well paid. Some had live in nannies--some pieced things together with grandmothers, day care, etc. One has one child. The others have either two or three children. They work in different areas of law. The one thing they all have in common in that they considered their children equally important to their careers and all of them refused the stereotypical top track--you know, corporate lawyer with very high end firm, on the partner track. Well,one did it for a while. She became the first woman in her firm and did it, outwardly seeming to have no problem, while she only had one child. When she had the second child, she ditched the partnership. Her reason was the 80 hour work week. She started working as a lawyer for a university--40 hours and when she came home, she came home. There is really no such thing as quality time when you never see your spouse and kid.
    The others never even tried that. They have had happy careers--one is a lawyer for the New York Transit--one is a lawyer for a firm who advocates for poor people against the local power company--there have been many other choices. All are well paid. Everyone is full time Just not CRAZY time.
    I do know women partners--none of them have kids. Which is fine. No one says you have to be a mother. Just that it is also a very demanding job, if you choose it, so you will have to make some compromises somewhere. Women manage to do this admirably an amazing amount of the time--AND also have careers--sometimes during the time when their kids are young, sometimes afterwards. I believe you will, too. Just from the fact that you are asking questions already and asking for advice bodes very well.
    My main advice would be to ignore people telling you to do one thingor the other because they have some set idea about what 'women' should be for some ideological reason. You need to do what is best for you, your husband and kids and shut out the white noise from both sides.
    Best to you.
     
  25. rainwood
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by rainwood » Mar 11, 2012
    It's too bad that the working mother v. SAHM debate has to come up every time someone asks specific questions. No one should take any of these posts as a criticism of their life path. Sheesh. The OP was talking about motherhood and two Big Law associate careers in two different cities, one of them NYC. That's the question I answered. It was NOT a general question about career v. motherhood or the benefits of part-time generally. It was about Big Law and that's a world kind of unto itself.

    Full-time associate positions are 60-70 hours a week in Big Law and those hours aren't within your control and they aren't necessarily predictable. That's just how that world is. And if the OP wants to work those hours, that's fine. That's why I said a live-in nanny works best because then you know someone is there even when you can't be. If the MIL can commit to that type of schedule, the problem is solved. Part-time is more like 40-50 and that's what a lot of working mom associates want to do and that's okay too, but it comes with tradeoffs in Big Law. That's just the reality.

    Those of us who've been in Big Law tried to be truthful about that specific world so the OP could make her decisions based on the reality, not what we'd all hope the world could be. If you haven't been in Big Law, you can't know what it's like. I wish the OP all the best in figuring out the right plan for them because that's what's important. It sounds like they're making strides in doing that.
     
  26. Kaleigh
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Kaleigh » Mar 11, 2012
    IBig congrats on the pregnancy.

    I did not read the whole thread. Why?? I have my reasons...

    I think with anything you find a balance. You do the best at being a Mom first, and be the best lawyer you can be second...

    What was the phrase when you are dying no one says I should have put more time in at the office. More like OMG.... I should have seen that school play, been there for the soccer game...

    I think as long as you are PRESENT for such events. It means a lot.

    My kids , well adult kids are soon to be 24 and 22.

    They would tell you what I am saying. But they would also say, don't bring the crackberry. Don't bring your cell phone when doing things with them. That's what being present is.

    Quality. Being there to listen..

    It's about making them feel like they are the center of your universe. You do that, it's all good...

    They will forgive the times when you have to take a call, and god forbid miss a game....

    Kids are very forgiving. But it's you that makes them know... YOU are sooooo important.. And I got you..

    It's always a work in progress, no easy way.... But laying the foundation is key.

    I worked, but was present.
     
  27. Bella_mezzo
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Bella_mezzo » Mar 11, 2012
    MSC-Just to clarify, b/c I'm not sure that it came through in my post. I'm not advocating for a career change for you :cheeky: , just to be open to exploring other career avenues of practicing law and/or making a well-informed and intentional decision for you and/or your DH to go the big law route and what it would mean for your family.

    Good luck!!!! and again, congrats!
     
  28. dreamer_dachsie
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by dreamer_dachsie » Mar 12, 2012
    It would sure be nice if we knew the recipe to be a perfect mother wouldn't it ;)) Stay at home, don't stay at home, work 5 hours, work 12, never work at all....

    There is no recipe to be a perfect parent. Actually, there is not even really a recipe to be a "good enough" parent -- which at the end of the day is all we actually need to achieve. Good enough, not perfect.

    MSC I am not a laywer but I am a working mother with a career that is male dominated and very central to my identity. You can have your cake and eat it too on two conditions. ETA: I have added a third.

    1) Be flexible in your definition of what it means to be a "good enough" mother. If you want a career you will need a village to help raise your child. A nanny, family members, a devoted spouse. High powered men have wives, you need one too ;)) The notion that you are the only one who can raise your child is ridiculous. In fact, histortically and in many modern cultures, grandparents and other individuals did and still do most of the child rearing so that young able bodied people in their prime can contribute to society in other ways. I know of little evidence that those (majority) cultures have reared a generation of miscreants and fools. The modern nuclear family is just that. Modern. Define motherhood however you need to define it to have a happy and balanced life. Now, I would not personally ever want to work 60 hours, but if that's what you want, go for it. But do yourself ONE favour. Live in the same city as your partner, actually live in the same house, and have a short commute. I guess that is two favours 8) SIMPLIFY your life, because kids are a lot of work and the less other pulls on your time the better. Get a housekeeper too.

    2) Be flexible in the path you see your career taking. Be open to changing your mind about how and where and what you want to do for a living. You CAN'T know how you will feel about your child and motherhood before you have a child. So be open to completely changing your plans if that is what you want to do. You never know! Strangers things happen in life. Nothing is etched in stone, there is *always* a way to change plans to make life simpler and better if you are so inclined, student loans and all.

    ETA 3) Your husband will need to learn to be a wife, too. A woman cannot have a high powered career unless she has a spouse who is willing to take on more domestic responsibilities than men usually take on. He must also be willing to take on conditions 1 and 2 if need be. You need to be TRUE equals in your marriage. Without that, you are lost.

    Good luck! And embrace this change, anxiety fear and all. Women have been having babies forever, and for much of our history, we also worked 12 hours days (do you think women working on farms were sitting in the kitchen with the kids all day? None I know about). If they did it, you can too. And you will have a lot more money to do it with.
     
  29. mich_t
    Rough_Rock

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    by mich_t » Mar 12, 2012
    November Bride, I take your points, but my main point to the OP was to maintain an open mind and some flexibility and not commit to anything until after she knows how she feels. I'm quite critical of the legal community in Australia (and it sounds like the US is the same) which believes that that Biglaw = success and anything else, such as part-time or in-house etc = dead-end job. I left biglaw to go to a part-time job in-house which paid more than in private practice and I finished at 5pm every day! :twirl:

    When I quit 'biglaw' my boss thought I was insane and couldn't fathom leaving a 'proper' career to be with my daughter and study a PhD. He told me that I needed to teach my daughter some independence (she was 9 months old) and asked me who on earth would care about ancient history! This sounded like crazy talk to me and really made me realise how delusional the industry was.

    That is exactly my point. Flexibility of ideology is key in balancing children and work.

    So I think the debate is less working mothers v SAHM than the perceived worth of a paid job over being a mother. I think women can do both at the same time, but as others have said, in the particular context of 'biglaw', it's going to be a challenge. At the moment, I'm caring for my very ill mother, taking care of two little children and studying, so it's possible but it's also painful!!!

    I think children are incredibly resilient and as long as you do the best you can in any given situation, they will understand when they get older and be thankful.
     
  30. Deia
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by Deia » Mar 12, 2012
    I am not a mother and I am not a lawyer, but I did grow up with a nanny for the first 10 years of my life, both my parents worked, they needed the money, and also for Brasilians it is not uncommon to have help with raising children.

    Anyway, I love my mother dearly - never felt she was away from me or wasnt there for me or didn't see me enough. In fact she is a wonderful mother and I can count on her for anything. I also loved my nanny dearly, so in a way I had two moms, and I loved it. I felt really priviledged to have two mother figures that loved me so much. Nanny left when I was 10 years old as we moved to a different country and my mother couldn't work there due to visa requirements.

    I do think you need to think hard about whether or not you really want this child. I think you have a great career ahead of you, and you have appeared super excited about it. Only you know, but you are young, and can have a child later in life when you are more settled and able to give more of your time to it. It just sounds like a very tumultuous time in your life for you and your partner to have a child.

    I know you mentioned somewhere that he bought you a diamond and then held off on proposing. Does this have anything to do with trying to get him to commit? Because if so this is really not the way to go, it seems you will have all the burden on you with this child after giving birth and you will eventually regret this decsion, which I doubt is something any mother wants to do.

    I am just trying to help, please don't think I am judging you or anything like that.
     

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