Monday, August 27, 2007

Jurl Seeking Job (Not Really)

I've been a practicing attorney for almost eight years. How and why I wound up a lawyer is another blog for another day. Regardless of the events that got me where I am today, here I am. And here is looking a little shady. Since I had my first child I've struggled with balancing my career and my home life. Meeting the obligations of my job and the obligations of my children is like trying to get panties on Paris to impossible. However, I've managed to not completely neglect my children and keep my firm's partners somewhat satisfied. Lawyers are never really satisfied unless you're making them tons of money and I haven't made anyone tons of money since I blew that first kid out. Sadly for my employers, birthing another human being out of your body will create a slight priority shift. At least it did for me.

I've often wished I could quit working all together and explore what I really wanted to do with my life. I doubt I would discover I want to be something crazy like a Chinese acrobat (I'd look terrible in spandex), but I want a moment to figure it out. However, when I mention to my husband that I might, maybe, possibly like to quit working he says I should have thought about that before I took out "all those student loans." He always shuts me down with this rude reminder of my student loans. Becoming a lawyer is very expensive and I chose the "In Debt for Eternity" package. How was I supposed to know that a few short years later I'd want to quit work to be with my not yet born children and to pursue a different kind of dream? I'm not a mind reader! I know my own mind less than anybody's.

But, working at my firm may not be my choice for much longer. I practice a very specific type of litigation and our work is changing. My particular position is no longer really needed. I'm set to return to work on September 20 after a lovely three months of maternity leave and for the first time in 8 years I won't have much of anything to do. They will have work to offer me, but it involves traveling around the country and I can hardly do that with two small children.

But what about my husband, you ask? Well, he has a big job of his own as a lawyer and we already struggle with whose job is more important. Recent arguments go like this:

Big Important Husband: "I have to get to work Early tomorrow. You have to take Sam to to pre-school."

Put Upon Wife: "I can't. I have to be at work early, too!"

Big Important Husband: "I"m a partner. I have responsibilities."

Put Upon Wife: "I'm never going to be a partner because I can't get where I need to be on time! What about my responsibilities?"

Big Important Husband: "There are things I have to do as a partner. It's a bigger obligation."

I am defeated. What can I say to that? My job is important enough to keep b/c we need the additional income, but not important enough for me to be a success at it. Hmmm. When you add together my not quite meeting my obligations as a mother and my not quite meeting my obligations as a lawyer you get an existence of constant mediocrity. Just what I always wanted, to achieve the status of barely average.

Another confession I must make is that I've never wanted to be a true stay-at-home mom. Once a kid starts talking I need someone else to help teach her things. I'd be a horrible stay-at-home mom b/c I'm too lazy. My kids would be well versed in Oprah, but not much else. I get bored playing trains within thirty seconds and I don't like to go outside because I'm a vampire.

So, ideally, I'd keep the baby at home till he needs to learn colors and shapes, but my tot would stay in pre-school. I'd spend my days writing, playing with my baby, and keeping our lives together. Is that so unreasonable?

Big Important Husband is freaking out. And he should be. Our family is on the brink of a new horizon and it is terrifying. I want to let go of where I am to find where I belong, but I can't seem to loosen the death grip I have on my present place in the world. I suspect God is about to pry my fingers loose one way or another. Anybody want to pay me to write witty commentary on your life? Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like "big important partner" should bring home "big important paycheck" to pay off the student loans. Good luck with all that. I'm married to a lawyer and I haven't won an argument in 8 years.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that you and your husband need to have a heart to heart about goals and expectations. When you guys decided to have a second child did you both realize that it could jeopardize your job? Did you both talk about what having a second child really would mean for the both of you and what would be expected of each of you in your role in the marriage? I would hope that right now, your husband would be saying to you - "Honey - that sucks, but you are the mother of my children and I know that you have sacrificed for our family. I am and should be the breadwinner, and we will work something out," Anything less devalues your contribution to the family.

amy from austin said...

I think you are going through your 35th year assessment too. Keep asking yourself what you want in this life and go for it. I am proud of you.

Love the blog.

Flower Mound Girl said...

Dear Jurl,
I've been a stay at home mom for 12 yrs. and I've finally gotten the courage to do something I've always dreamed of doing. Despite that fact I think my husband considers this my new hobby. Funny enough, my "new hobby" can be done while taking care of three kids, a home, laundry etc...etc...while he travels 50% of the time and his can't.

I say go for it! You only have this life to be who you want to be and you can still be a perfect mother.

Remember the new statistics say the average stay at home mom would be earning over $150K a year if she were working outside of the home. Consider that and let "big important husband" be the "big important breadwinner"

ATLGAL said...

Uh, Anonymous- do you have a husband and/or kids? Cuz your comments are not helpful and not realistic. Sometimes life just happens, and sometimes its not exactly what you hoped for, despite your best laid plans. And your "hope" about what Jurl's husband "should" be saying to her is naive at best. Sometimes, believe it or not, in the every day life of a family we can't see the forest for the trees. And I happen to know that Jurl's job issues have nothing to do with whether she has zero kids, one kid, two kids, or thirty. Pretty much every job industry on the planet does what it does, regardless of the personal lives of those involved, and that's the situation here, so give me a break on the calm, mature, and apparently time-travel-possible advice about planning for the future and marriage expectations. It ain't that easy and it ain't that clear cut.

jurl said...

There are different kinds of marriages. What works in one does not work in another. Some wives can tell their husbands, "that's it, I quit!" and there are wives, like me, that cannot. But, I have to give my husband some credit, he is willing for the first time ever to discuss me working part-time. It's a big step for him (and in some ways for me too), but looking at where I money goes startled both of us and it's clear we can live on less. Also, there aren't a lot of husbands whose wives say- I want to be a writer! If he came home and told me he wanted to quit and be a webmaster I'd kill him and collect the insurance money. However, I did express concerns about having a second child with us bother working full time. Now I have the little guy and I love him, but he was a big step for me. I'm confident that it will all work out in the end. thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Loved this heart-felt blog. I am writing this at work at 9:15 at night and I have been here since 8:30 this moring. I work "part-time" but part-time for a lawyer is truly a joke. OK - I work less hours than an typical attorney, but almost as much as other full-time jobs. Why do I do it - it's called "Golden Hand-Cuffs". I am about to pop-out Baby #3, and I am truly trying the Stay-At-Home Mommy option, which I am truly happy about. I have the rest of my life to be a lawyer (boring anyway), but only a few short years to be the total center of someone's universe. Thankfully, I paid off all my student loans last year and my husband is very supportive and greatly values the roles I provide at home which he can't/won't do.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like Big Bad Partner should bring home a Big Bad Paycheck to match his Big Bad Attitude. Hey, what is this guy's problem with seeing the value of motherhood, what he abandoned by his mother and raised by an evil step-mother or something. Give me a break!