NO SUCH THING AS A WORK-LIFE BALANCE
March is an important month. In addition to playing host to both the first day of spring and St. Patrick’s Day, March is also National Women’s History month, an observance that highlights the contributions of women throughout history. While there are millions of strong, intelligent, and capable women whose efforts have fostered progress in various ways, celebrating the compassion, determination, and courage of women always makes me think of the most inspirational woman in my life: my mom.
I was born soon after she graduated high school. Even when I was a small child, I was in awe of her work ethic and her ability, as a single parent, to provide for me. Then, when I was in elementary school, she added to her already-busy schedule by pursuing her college degree. She kept her full-time job in office work and sales, attending classes at night.
There were certainly moments when I missed her at home and didn’t understand why she had to work so many hours or earn a college education. Kids typically don’t comprehend the fact that in order for the lights to stay on in the house
and food to appear on the kitchen table, someone has to work. But even in the moments I missed her, I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity and self-motivation. Those same characteristics were instilled in me at a young age and still have a huge influence on my role as both an attorney and a mother.
In the years after I graduated from law school, I was a prosecuting attorney, and I had a reputation for being tough. But when my kids were born, I knew I wanted to take a big step back to ensure that I was able to spend quality time with them as they grew up. When Jake, my oldest son, was nearing age 9, my mom asked me if I had plans to resume my profession as a lawyer. You see, I always thought I’d go back, but I was just waiting for the so-called right time. I was worried that if I went back to practicing, I wouldn’t be as good of a mother, and that if I went back and maintained the same home life, I wouldn’t be as good of an attorney. I battled with guilt until my mom leveled with me. She reminded me of how assiduously I had worked to get my law degree and how much I loved fighting on behalf of my clients. My mom wanted me to fully leverage the effort I’d already put forth, and I listened.
Over the past decade, trying to be the best lawyer and mother I can be, I’ve learned that there really is no such thing as a work-life balance when you’re navigating both of these worlds simultaneously. You simply can’t give half your attention to both roles all the time. What you can do is find ways to limit your own stress and task list and reduce the amount of time you have to spend on other life demands. For example, to reduce the number of minutes I spend commuting back and forth to work each day, I found a great home closer to my office. That way, I was able to arrive at work earlier in the morning without cutting into the time I spent at home.
While I’d like to take credit for every great part of the life I’ve made for myself, I owe so much to my mom, who taught me the value of hard work, the importance of self-sufficiency, and a way to power through the struggle of being a working mother.