Have you read the departure memo written by an associate (lawyer) to her work colleagues at a big law firm?
Link to memo and article: http://abovethelaw.com/2012/11/departure-memo-of-the-day-parenting-gets-the-best-of-one-biglaw-associate/
She's a mother of two children who attempted to work full time and to fulfill the needs of her family. In the memo she delineates how her day is broken down from the moment she wakes up to the time she finally goes to bed. I read the memo fully sympathizing with her plight. Last night either Sadie or Aaron cried until midnight.
Sadie fussed with the tabs on her diaper. Aaron repeatedly wanted to nurse. Neither wanted to sleep in their bed. Sadie screamed. Aaron cried when Sadie wasn't screaming. It was rough. Thankfully Logan was a calm presence in the night - he kept everything together. After a stressful weekend and lack of sleep, I had zero patience to put up with Sadie's hysterics over her blanket/diaper/bed. Aaron's need to nurse, while tiring, was understandable and tolerable.
Two in the morning when Aaron wanted to nurse again and refused to sleep unless I rocked him, I read this article. I felt for this poor woman. How can we expected to stay up all night with cranky/sad/sick children and then work full time? While I am sleep deprived, my days are filled with cleaning poopy diapers, hanging out with two kids under the age of 3 and cleaning/cooking/spending time with friends. None of these things require great brain power or a well rested mother (although sleep would be appreciated). And here's a woman who obviously wants to be there for her children. Not all women are interested in spending a lot of time with their kids so they hire outside help. But for those women who want to be there for their kids, it's a horrible choice between your kids and your career.
This woman, as an associate at a big law firm, had to have worked her butt off in college, aced the lsat, done amazingly well at a top law school and then invested over 2000 hours of her life per year in the law firm. Those 2000 hours a year are just billable hours, they do not include all the minutes in between that are not billable. This woman INVESTED in her career. Then, as many women do, she decided to have a family. We are repeatedly told women can do it all. Look at Hollywood - example after example of successful women with children, we don't see the team of staff that support these powerhouses.
One day she had to admit that she couldn't do it all. She could not give her family the attention they needed and give her career the attention it needed.
My heart goes out to her. In this ageist society and resume driven workforce, I fully believe having children first and working on your career later is extremely difficult. Who wants to hire a 40 year old woman with little to zero work experience? Companies like to hire fresh young recently graduated folk who have the stamina to work day and night. Young people who are malleable and do not understand the ins and outs of work politics. People who can stay with a company for many years, not people who are nearing retirement age.
Interestingly, her memo gave me clarity. For many years I have beaten myself up for not getting into law school despite trying for three years. I worked my butt off preparing for the lsat and applying to law schools. Instead I got married and have two babies. Here I am. On a frequent basis I become saddened by my lack of academic and professional achievements. Did I really apply myself in school and graduate from a top university to stay at home and be domestic? The answer, I suppose, is yes. I did. My children have a smart mother who will pass on a love of learning. And, I don't have to be an attorney in order to be successful. Later, perhaps, I will find other outlets for my creativity that will bring me satisfaction.
Had I gone to law school I either would not have married or I would have married but chosen to wait on having children. I don't think I would have chosen to have children and leave my job. I love the fact I am home to see my children grow and change. I have seen every milestone in my children's lives. I am a witness to their glory. They are a gift and I am grateful to have the opportunity to be there for them. I continue to struggle with accepting my role as a mother with my desire to feel fulfilled in other ways. However, reading this memo has stressed to me the impossible struggle I would have faced had I gone to law school and then chosen to have a family. How can you choose between two loves?
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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