I was reading an US Weekly the other day (I'm not proud to admit this, but it's true), and came across a quote from Gwen Stefani that echoed sentiments my fellow working moms and I have made from time to time. Stefani was quoted as saying, "It [touring]'s challenging, especially for me because I'm the mom. [My bandmates] are just the dads. . . . They have their wives with them. I don't have my wife with me." While I don't agree with the "just the dads" part, Stefani's statement still hits close to home.
Although I think for the large part, male lawyers see female lawyers as equals, I don't think male lawyers with families always understand - or maybe even think about - how different the role of lawyer-with-family is for men versus women. Most of the male-partners-with-kids that I worked for had stay at home wives. Because they had stay-at-home wives, they were used a reality where the wife took care of all of the "domestic" things. Things like laundry and cooking and taking care of the kids. Things that sound little in the abstract, but really are time consuming and important to the everyday function of a family. By having a wife to take care of all of these things, the male-partners-with-families were free to perform their duty: earn income.
But many working moms don't have a stay-at-home spouse. We don't come home to an ordered house and completed homework. We come home to hungry kids, irritated spouses, piles of laundry and ticking time clock reminding us each second of all the things we need to get done before the next day. While Husband and I try to share our daily tasks, there is no doubt that the majority of the burden falls on me. If I haven't pre-made dinner so that Husband can just stick it in the oven, he'll feed the kids cereal. Husband will put laundry in the washer or dryer, but folding is a foreign concept to him. And don't even bother asking him to put away folded clothes -- he doesn't know where anything goes. And these are just the basics. When we get to things like remembering the item the kids need to bring into school the next day or signing the kids up for activities or even buying Christmas gifts, it's all mom all the time. It's overwhelming.
The male partners I work with seem to have no concept of all of the balls I am constantly juggling. My life is foreign to them, and they truly don't understand why meetings in which it is advised that associates ask their wives to host dinner parties or ask their wives to hand-make special holiday gifts for clients get under my skin. It shows a lack of understanding of what my life is like and how hard I am truly working to make this all happen.
But clients of mine, take heart. I'll be sure to get on making dinner invitations and hand-crafted holiday gifts. . . . just as soon as I find a wife.