Friday, August 19, 2011

Mommy Tracked

My career had been on my mind quite a bit the last several months.   There is a pull between my personal ambition and my role and responsibilities as a mommy that creates a state of constant conflict for me about this subject.  While I was enormously pregnant with Isla, I received a random phone call from a head hunter asking me if I would be interested in applying for a position with a firm that is looking for an associate with experience in medical malpractice defense.  My general philosophy is to follow these types of things and see if they go anywhere.  If they don't - no sweat.  Its good practice to keep your interview skills sharp and resume updated.  So, I interviewed and they loved me, but there was an issue about my burgeoning belly and the fact that I wouldn't be able to actually start working until March (this was October). 

So, that didn't work out.  But, it planted seeds in my head.  For one, I found out first hand exactly how underpaid I was for the work I did.  Second, it made me realize that I had become kind of lackidaisical and passive about my career.  Which, suited me just fine in the moment, but would end up royally screwing me long term.  I figured I probably ought to get the whole giving birth thing out the way first before I really pursued something new career-wise.  So, I did.  I gave birth and enjoyed my "maternity leave" (if you can call working 20+ hrs a week the whole time "leave"), and I eased back into my regular working mommy routine. 

But, I was pretty miserable.  I felt micromanaged, bored, taken advantage of.  I just wasn't happy where I was anymore.  Then one day, my boss came to me and asked me how I'd like the opportunity to be the lead attorney for a new client managing their collection work.  There were a lot of positive things that could come from it, so I said sure!  About a month later, boss man comes back to me and discusses the situation with me some more.  At this time, he tells me that his "vision" is that as I increase the amount of work I'm doing for this new client, I will gradually transition away from my other work I had been doing for the past 6 years - medical malpractice defense and complex litigation. 

Wow.  That took me by surprise.  I politely told my boss "thank you for this opportunity, but I want to be a med mal defense lawyer."  That's what I love.  That's what gets my blood pumping.  That's what makes the whole above-described daily conflict between mommy-Elle and lawyer-Elle almost worth it!  (Add on my huge student loan debt, and it tips the balance).  His response was that he felt this was the best "lifestyle" choice for me and my family at this time.  That being a trial lawyer is tough work and hard to do when you have young kids.  As if I didn't know this already...  Then he said that in his experience, only those people who have "nothing else" (read: children), ever become "great" trial lawyers.  Hm.....

So, I drove home screaming to my mom on the phone.  Frankly, I was pissed.  I didn't want to be a collections attorney (no offense if you are).  I had different dreams and aspirations.  And yes, its hard right now with three young children.  But they won't be young forever.  Taking this "detour" would ruin my chances of ever becoming a well-respected attorney in the field I DID want to make my "speciality" (although, lawyers aren't supposed to use that word).  I made the decision that night to launch a full-on job hunt.

That was a Friday.  Monday, I came into work as usual.  While I was in a deposition, another lawyer who does med mal defense commented that her firm was so busy, and asked if any of us knew of an associate with med mal experience looking for a job?  I told her, "I'll walk you to your car."  And the rest is history.  Of course, they adored me and offered me the job, and I accepted, and all is well and happy again. 

God literally dropped this job in my lap at exactly the right time.  It could not BE more perfect for me.  My two bosses are working mommies who know the challenges appertaining thereto.  The case work is amazing.  I'm given lots of breathing room to really spread my wings.  I'm loving it!

The moral of the story is - Ladies, don't let anyone box you in.  Stop telling yourselves all the reasons why you can't do this or that.  Bull cocky.  Go for your dreams.  Life is too short to sell yourself short!  And dammit - don't anyone dare mommy track me!


Once again, I allow over two months to lapse in between posts.  After I promised I would never do such a thing ever again...  Tsk tsk.  But surely, if you allow me to explain the reason for my absence, you will understand. 

You see, in the last two months, I have made two VERY big changes. 

First, I left the firm I had worked at for the past six years!  I joined a new firm and have been happily working my tail off.  More on that later.  That deserves a separate post.

Second, we moved!  To a smaller house that will be much more manageable for our budget and my cleaning lady (yeah, that'd be me...).  But more importantly, to a better school district where Carter can attend public school!  (We really disliked the elementary school our prior house was zoned for and therefore shelled out major moulah to put him in private school for Kindergarten).  We're still settling in and there are a few unpacked boxes lying about here and there (and a washing machine in my dining room b/c we can't seem to get it to the basement....), but slowly but surely, we are making progress!!!  Its a quiet little neighborhood with lots of open space and kids!  This is my favorite thing about my new house - the back doors:

Summer has whizzed past me at lightening speed. I simply cannot believe that Carter goes back to school in just a little over a week!!!  I didn't accomplish half of what I intended to do this summer.  Oh well.  Keep looking forward, right? 

Summary - I've been busy as hell.  I'm starting to settle in.  I'll try to post more often.