This week has been “one of those” weeks in my world. As a first year partner, I have been stepping it up in an attempt to prove myself amongst my partners. I want to show them that I, the attorney who is known more for being a Mom than for my legal abilities, can walk toe to toe…or should I say bill toe to toe with them.
When I became a Mom I made a rule. I vowed to never work in front of my kids. I’m not really sure what made me enact this rule, both my parents worked when I kid (my Mom started working when I was a tween). My parents' working status never had any effect on me. But when I got pregnant with J, I kept hearing how important it was to stay home with my kids. Every family event where my large bump was visible I would hear: “So, will you be staying home now that you are starting your family?” So I guess I fell victim to the stereotypes and just started to believe that my working hurts my children…so best to be done behind the scenes.
Now I’m a litigator, so obviously I have had to break this rule a few times, such as when I am preparing for trial. When I break my rule, I usually try and allow the kids to be apart of the working. “J, want to come “work” with Mommy?” J will then grab her notebook and “work” with me. Sometimes I think her pen scratches make more sense than the legalese I am deciphering.
This week my schedule is crazy. Monday, depositions; Tuesday, out of town depositions, Wednesday out of town depositions; Thursday: Settlement conference; Friday: Hearing in Federal Court. Because I will be out of the office so much this week, I have had to bring lots of work home with me. Normally, I can simply work after I put the kids to bed; but with so much on my plate this week I have had to pull out my files earlier than that.
So, Monday I put L down for the night and came downstairs. I encouraged the kids to watch a movie so I could sit down and work on a Motion. Maybe they wouldn’t notice if they were lost in their favorite movie. It worked like a charm. They sat and watched a movie, while I covertly worked on a motion.
I got so into my argument I didn’t even notice a little blonde hair boy peeking at me over my desk. Busted.
“Whatcha doing Mommy?”.
I instantly started to feel like I was on trial and needed to make a confession. The words hurt as they left my mouth: “H, Mommy has to work tonight”. Instantly I envisioned my son to be upset, will he think I don’t want to be with him? To my surprise, H opened his mouth and said just one word...
“Okay”… and off he went to rejoin his sister on the couch.
He wasn’t sad, he didn’t want an explanation. He climbed back on the couch and laughed along with the movie. My working nearby had no effect on him whatsoever.
As Moms, we instantly think our kids will feel abandoned, un-loved just because we leave them half the day. But, H proved to me that that stereotype isn’t always true. He didn’t care that I was working…all he cared about was what was going to happen to Wall-E in the next scene.
I’m learning from small moments like this that motherhood is more about the quality of time we spend with our kids than the quantity. We don’t have to be by their sides every minute of the day for them to know they are loved. What we think will effect our children in a negative fashion may have absolutely no effect. Just because I have to work every now and then while my kids watch a movie doesn’t mean they will require therapy for the rest of their lives. Like H admitted himself, he’s “okay”. He’s okay even though his Mommy is a partner at a very busy law firm, he’s okay even though his Mommy has high billable goals, he’s okay even though his Mommy travels for work…he’s okay.