A few months ago, I was standing in a parking lot after a meeting talking to a fellow lawyer mom and a mutual friend of ours (non-lawyer, but also a working mom). Before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed and we were still standing there, under the hot afternoon sun, talking. The topic? OUR KIDS.
This wasn’t a “Oh you’ll never believe the adorable thing little Matthew did last night” kind of conversation either. It was a full blown venting sesh between three working moms about the REAL struggles we were dealing with in disciplining our kids, who range in age from toddlers to pre-teens. I had been struggling with the newly found attitude problem my 5 year old son had embraced and what seemed like a constant personal attack towards his own mother, while my friends were dealing with the rebellious streaks their 9 and 10 year old daughters were testing out, and how all of this has been affecting our relationships not only with our kids, but with our husbands, and the spillover effects of all of this on our work and professional lives.
Two things became immediately evident to me by the end of that conversation: (1) I was not alone in my sincerest thoughts and feelings about parenting, which is often a conflicting, non-picturesque war within myself, and (2) I feel better, lighter, and relieved. After sharing my stories with these women, who were experiencing such similar feelings of hardship and emotional struggle as I was, I was flooded with relief and a sense of peace and calm. I was reminded of the simple fact that I am not alone. Not alone in the uneasiness I sometimes feel as a working mom, not alone in the guilt that I feel when I have to leave my family to provide them the quality of life I envision for them, not alone in the guilt I feel when I am dedicating more time to my family and neglecting to do my work as well as I could/should be, and not alone in the downright torture that weighs me down every time I think I have disciplined my kids too strongly or was too hard on them (because who the hell wants a spoiled brat hanging around the house forever?!?)
Working moms get a bad enough rap as is. Lawyer moms may be even more vicious still because we become consumed by the nature aggression and competition of our profession that requires us to win, no matter the costs. I think its that much more necessary then, that we, as working moms, as lawyer moms, make a conscious effort to set aside our different personalities and those antagonistic characteristics that we’ve been taught to value so much, and instead recognize how important it is to support each other. Whether that support comes from a text to check in on your friends, or delaying your work for an extra hour and a half so you can lend an ear to a friend who just needs to vent in a parking lot.
Melissa Caballero Alton
I'm a working lawyer mom in South Florida, and these are some of my stories and tips to help you be productive as a lawyer, and happy as a mom.