These three little chairs also belong to three of my greatest accomplishments in life so far who make me very proud to go to work.
There are a few other things I am really proud of, but these three top the list.
Some days, I could easily stay home and play all day (thank goodness for Tuesdays!). Other days, I happily skip out the door straight to the office and absorb myself in the world of family law.
This morning was one of those tricky days because my very cute and squishy one year old wanted to play ball with me while I tried my best to get 4 humans ready and out the door at a respectable time.
So, I ignored the clock and I stopped getting ready and for a few minutes, until her attention went to something else, I played with my baby girl and her face lit up and my heart almost burst with love – and we still made it out of the house at a respectable time.
Every so often, something makes me pause and reflect on my life as a lawyer and a mother. Or should it be my life as a mother and a lawyer?
This morning was one of those times.
I believe that becoming a parent has made me a better lawyer. And being a lawyer has made me a better parent. I bet you will relate, because it is a conversation I have had with so many friends and colleagues – my work provides me intellectual stimulation in a different way than being a parent does.
Being a parent has made me better at being patient, calm, and curious – not to mention being organized, able to multi-task and my efficiency levels have rocketed! My ability to go-with-the-flow has developed because, well – life with three children doesn’t always go to plan.
I was so worried when I was pregnant with my first baby that I couldn’t be a “proper” lawyer anymore because I had children (ignoring the fact that many of the lawyers I admire the most are… parents!).
And I worried how I would explain the time I “took off” paid work to be a parent.
I was so worried about that period that I finished my Masters in Family Law so I could somehow justify not being in paid employment.
I know now those fears were unfounded, and if I could wind back the clock and relax a little more about what being a parent might do to my career, I would do some things differently.
In the last 5 years, I have learned that family life is not always like it is in the movies and the text books are guidelines rather than precise descriptions of “how it should be”.
All of our learnings, I think, have made me a much better person, not to mention, a better family lawyer.
I have worn distinctly different hats that have all helped me understand family life from different perspectives: I have been the stay at home parent; the sole parent; the working and primary parent; and then the primary income earner.
There have been various challenges we have faced as a family with each of these hats.
I have had three pregnancies and three babies in four years; I have been a FIFO wife – and somehow managed to navigate the day to day living while my husband worked away for 4 out of 5 weeks at a time.
I gave birth to one baby while Luke was sitting on a plane trying his hardest to get home in time for the birth (he didn’t).
I have experienced the complete, utter helplessness associated with watching my 7 day old baby stop breathing and be resuscitated by my husband and then the doctors, over and over again before being admitted to the ICU for a week.
I have learned how to be a working parent and the challenges that come with that choice – I created my practice so that I could parent and lawyer in a way that fit with our life and so that I could practice in the way that reflected my values, rather than trying to squeeze myself into someone else’s picture of what is the right way to work.
I have faced mother guilt (daily!) while experiencing the joy and reward of working for myself; and Luke and I learned how to live together, full-time, with three small humans (one as a newborn) several years into our relationship (thank you FIFO life!).
I know that our story is not remarkable or extraordinary, it’s just one example of what life is like these days for so many families. And it’s our story. And I wanted to share it with you because I feel so privileged to learn your story so soon after we meet.
I can tell you that none of these things have been easy and I know there are so many challenges ahead for us.
Even as I write this, I am helping my children navigate a new world of social relationships as we get ready to start school next year – which will be a whole new level of learnings, and stories for another day.
I think that becoming a parent has made me a much better family lawyer because I have a much better understanding of family life and life in general.
Not to say that my experiences as a parent are the same as yours – how could it be? You and I are different people, as are our children – and all of the personalities and experiences involved in our respective family lives are so personal and unique to our own “world”.