“Are you a stay at home mom?”
At the time, I was getting my eyebrows waxed. My usual person was out, so this esthetician was just getting to know me.
I don’t know why I was so startled by her question, because it was a reasonable one. I considered: here I was, at 11:00 in the morning on a Wednesday, wearing jeans with comfy boots, getting my eyebrows waxed. I had just been telling her about my kids. Yet the question threw me off, and yeah — for a moment, until I realized it was silly, I felt myself growing offended.
In her mind, there were probably only two possible answers: (1) Yes, I’m home to fold laundry after this; or (2) No, I work at ____________.
Instead, I gave her this answer, after a pause:
“I’m … actually in a bit of a transition at the moment. I just resigned from my law firm job. I’m starting my own practice.”
“Oh wow, that’s great” she said disinterestedly, yanking a stubborn hair with the tweezers while I winced. So the answer was satisfactory. But I wanted to say so much more, if not to the person waxing me, then to anyone else who would hear me out.
Why? Because I am so excited about where this project is going, and I when I think about it, I get that rush of fear that comes with taking a step that feels incredibly risky, but is actually pretty safe in reality. Kind of like a rollercoaster. Or like having an esthetician rip a strip full of tiny hairs out of your face while you cry.
Here’s the long answer that most people either won’t get, or won’t care about: I resigned, and yes, so I can be at home more. But I’m also starting a business, and while it will be a lifestyle business geared toward increasing my freedom and flexibility to make my own hours, it means I’ll still have a full-time job. Actually, it’s neither full-time nor part-time, just like being a mother is not a full-time or part-time position. You’re a mother 100% of the time. I’m a lawyer 100% of the time. I had to make peace with that, because the facade of “clocking out” and putting aside client problems and issues had been slowly chipped away by the overreaches of my children, and their problems and issues. Slowly, but surely, the lines between work and home blurred for me until they were unrecognizable.
And all this time, I’ve been fighting it, when what I wanted was to seamlessly integrate the two. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to put any effort into the integration. It just happened on its own. All I’ve done now is embraced it.
Working all the time sounds like a nightmare, but it’s not, really. My new business is a virtual law office with a boutique focus on special education matters. Because each client will be signing on for limited representation, I will get some much needed closure instead of handling the open-ended cases that muddle along for months, sometimes years, without a resolution.
No one else I know in my practice area, or in this jurisdiction, is doing something like this, and that’s what makes this scary like a rollercoaster. I could be ignorant of the next dip that will make my stomach lurch. But I need to do this, or else I know I’ll regret it.
I think the reason the stay at home mom label bothers me has nothing to do with staying at home or being a mom. It’s just an outdated term, and frankly, “working mom” is too. Who refers to “working dads” anyway? We are all working, always. And those of us who are parents are all parenting, always. We are, each of us, whole people, despite the many facets that make up our total existence.