Do I miss work?March 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Starbucks, tax law is sexy, the firm, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: law firm maternity leave
No, of course not, though my last post begs the question. My new baby is amazing, and just today I had to put away onesies that he already has outgrown (and felt weepy!). My toddler needs me right now more than ever, and, despite her terrible two-ness, delights me dozens and dozens of times each day. I certainly do not miss the stress. I do not miss the client-driven deadlines, nor the pressure to bill hours. Nor the guilt I felt every evening when I slunk to the elevators at 5:30 p.m. to race home to meet the nanny and put Buggy to bed, knowing that my peers would be at their desks for another three or four hours. Nor the frantic checking of the Blackberry once I was home during bath time and story time (could the partner hold off until I put the baby to bed for me to get back online?) I d0 not miss the ever-s0-perceptible competition for assignments and partner-favor. I do not miss the pangs of regret I’d feel at times, looking out from my desk over Boston Harbor and Logan Airport, wondering what my child was doing at that moment. Napping? Playing? Did she miss me?
Now, of course, I know what she is doing each and every minute of the day, and sometimes I want to throw her out the window. And so here is what I do miss: my independence. I miss popping down to Starbucks whenever I pleased. I miss the occasional workout I’d sneak in at the gym in the building. I miss sushi lunches with friends. I miss dressing up in the morning, hearing the click of my heels on the driveway, sliding into my warm car and listening to a half-hour news cycle on NPR as I moved through the traffic on the Expressway. I miss feeling productive.
Here is what I really miss, though: my friends at work. I’ve written before how I did not expect that pursuing a law degree would result in a cadre of amazing, lifelong friends (I was too old, I didn’t need nor necessarily want any more friends, right?) I also had no idea that my law degree would result in a number of similarly true friends made at work. Friends I see socially outside of work. Friends who sent me baby gifts and whose children play with mine. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post on loneliness, my friends at work are an integral part of my working life and, as such, my life. They are (for the most part) mothers or mothers-to-be who are brilliant (literally) lawyers but who also wonder if the regrets and confusion they feel when working such long hours are worth their fancy law degrees. I think because we are mothers we aren’t afraid to express our vulnerability or our emotions, nor are we afraid to take multiple coffee breaks to chat about them. We know we need each other and we also know that our children are far, far more important than our careers. Our careers provide financial stability and intellectual challenges, and I think we all more or less like coming to work, but there is no question where our priorities lie. These priorities can seem questionable to others in our firm, I think, and so we come back to each other again and again, for another coffee and another lunch, for reassurance and support.
When I started at my firm, my colleagues with children helped me navigate those frothy waters, and I miss having similar guidance in this new stage in my life. Oh, I know my work peeps are there for me — we email all the time. But they’re not sitting two offices down from me or a floor above me. They can’t meet me for a Starbucks.
So, no, I don’t miss work. I don’t miss working. My newborn may keep me awake at night and my toddler may wear me out, but they do not stress me out. I am beyond appreciative of my six months of maternity leave (though my feminist readers — you know who you are — might argue: you deserve that leave! You worked for it! If society values families, everyone should have such leaves! I know, I know…) But I do miss the camaraderie and the productivity — and the heels.