MOTHERHOOD AND A CAREER YOU CAN HAVE BOTH M y mom never finished her undergraduate degree. She got married during her undergraduate years and decided to press pause on the pursuit of her degree so that my dad could finish his. Eventually, she attended night classes at the local community college to become a Rosie the Riveter-type figure, building fighter jets — cool job, right? When I was growing up, she always told me to wait until my undergraduate degree was finished before getting married. So what did I do? I got married as an undergraduate. I also had my first child before I completed my degree. In fact, I had my second child during my master’s coursework. By the time I decided to go to law school, I was a mother of four. A lot of people would think this trajectory is crazy, but I’m very happy I chose that course. In my eyes, you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. A lot of women decide to start their families after their careers are already rolling. I opted to do things in reverse. Mom’s advice was solid, but I think she would agree that things worked out just fine. To be honest, I don’t know how anyone does the stay-at-home mom thing. It’s really hard work without a clock-out time. I applaud the women who choose this route, but I found a different route that worked best for me. Having a career and raising children at the same time has always provided me with a great sense of balance. When I’m with my kids, I’m fully invested in them. The same goes for work. Having a chance to take a break from one to focus on the other has worked very well for me. When I was going to law school, I drove two states away to take my classes on the weekends. I viewed those drives as the rare chances to have car rides that didn’t include Barney or the Wiggles. I would listen to my course materials on tape (yes, cassette tape) on the way up. On the way back, I’d plug in my
hands-free setup and talk to friends and family. The only time I left with a sense of regret was when my youngest had a tonsillectomy. The surgery was done, but my baby hadn’t been discharged before I left. It broke my heart to leave that weekend. Thankfully, everything turned out just fine.
Being in school while raising my kids had some benefits I didn’t foresee at the time. Many parents struggle to get their children to do their homework. I never had that problem, because I had homework of my own. “Mommy has homework too,” I would tell them. “It’s not always fun or easy, but I always do it.” To this day, I make sure to maintain a healthy home-work balance. I keep banker’s hours rather than those of your typical lawyer, because I don’t like to miss a sporting event or school concert. I also encourage my staff to focus on their home lives when they need to. Not only does this make them happier, but it also increases their productivity. It’s hard to focus on your job when your mind is scattered in a thousand different directions.
“Having a career and
raising children at the same time
has always provided me with a great sense of balance. When I’m with my kids, I’m fully invested in them. The same goes for work.”
I bring this up this month because Keri, our paralegal, just had a beautiful baby named Zoey. You’ll see more of baby Zoey inside this issue. I want to wish Keri a wonderful maternity leave. Enjoy the time with your little one, Keri. The office won’t be the same without you, but we’ll do our best to manage. Whenever you’re ready to come back, we’ll be right here waiting for you. -Melissa Emery WWW.EMERYLAWOFF I CE . COM | 1
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