When I first started having children I was working full-time outside of the home. For the first few years I was struggling to find balance. I categorized my life as work and home…attorney and mother. They were separate, distinct – and I fought hard to prevent one from interfering with the other.
Regret is a strong word, but looking back it really is too bad that I tried to split myself in two like that. I compartmentalized my life so that I could get it all done and stay focused on each existence and, seemingly, excel in each because my commitment was 100% when I was at work and 100% when I was at home.
A few years under my belt, I now consider myself a seasoned attorney and a seasoned mother. Due to the birth of my twins (children numbers 4 and 5) I was fortunate to spend some time at home before going back to work. This time was precious to me and I savored it, but it also led me to appreciate the value of balance in my life with home and career. I always knew I would go back to work, but I came to look forward to it as opposed to the feeling it was out of necessity. Truth is, it IS out of necessity from a financial standpoint, but it was also fulfillment in my life – I now had something more.
Motherhood lends us to many life skills that give an edge in the workplace: organization, multi-tasking, time management, endurance, utilizing teachable moments – for others and ourselves, for a start. But now that I’ve been back for a year and have settled in, I found a new confidence that I did not expect.
I try to remain professional and polished, but I also connect with people more easily. People are more receptive to thoughtful conversation than polite manners. With five little ones at home leading five different lives, I have to MAKE special moments with each of them every day. It’s never long or elaborate, but I need to make a conscious effort so that our day does not turn into a shuffle (any more than it already is).
I used to worry that my motherhood would be perceived as a distraction, or that it somehow diminished my time and commitment to my career. I now make an effort to relate experiences to my children and the dynamics of my life. I’m sure a career in Family Law makes this more applicable for me than other professions – but what I was once afraid of, I now confidently display. I am not a mother in the workplace, but it is still who I am. I connect with people more genuinely because of parenthood. I have life experiences that are relatable, and people appreciate that. Clients and colleagues alike feel more comfortable when they can connect on a personal level. Perhaps it’s because they relate directly as a parent. Maybe it’s because they know I am being myself with them.
I do not flaunt my children. I do not have a detailed story for every topic. But being a mother is part of who I am and in the most basic sense, validates my life experience. I might not have 30 career-years under my belt, which so many colleagues rely on to validate their opinions and advice, but my years are DENSE with life experience. I genuinely wear my joy on my sleeve whenever I get the chance.