Welcome to the second featured working mom in my new working mom conversations series. I hope that through this series, working moms will see that they are not alone in their struggles. Even when we love our career, we can often feel conflicted and pulled in many directions at once. Read on to hear how Michael adapted her career to fit both her professional and family needs.
Tell us a little about you.
My name is Michael. I am married with two teenagers and I work full time as an attorney. My husband is also an attorney, but we practice separately. I am in my mid-40s and have been practicing 22 years.
Why did you choose this career?
I was a political science major at a liberal arts college and knew that I needed to go to graduate school to get a good job. I did not want to teach, so I decided to go to law school. Most of my friends with the same major were going to law school, too, so I said why not. I did not do any sort of internship and such before I decided on this route. I would definitely suggest that anyone looking for a career to try it out first before you spend a lot of time and money on pursuing it.
How did your professional life change after becoming a mom?
After I got married, I was lucky that I was working for a man who pretty much let me do what I wanted to do when I was practicing law. I had my own cases and he had his and we would help each other out, but it was not the usual practice with billable hour requirements and such. I knew that when I got married, I wanted flexibility to allow us to have kids and still keep practicing. I grew my practice and worked as much as I needed. I had a six-month-old and began running a law practice all at the same time, after my law partner had a stroke. My plans for the future changed because I definitely did not see that coming. I became the boss at 30 and so it was not as flexible and relaxed as I had expected it to be.
What do you find to be most challenging as a working mom?
The most challenging thing as a working mom was that I thought everyone still expected this perfect world even with everything that was going on. The scheduling and personalities involved became difficult, as I am one that likes to keep everyone happy, so I tended to forget about what I needed. I finally just decided to do what I thought was right for my little family and just plug along. I cannot keep everyone happy and I may not handle things the way others do or want me to, but we have made it this far and I think we are doing pretty well! I still work daily on shutting out the noise of the world and just keep working on us!
If you have chosen to ‘dial it back’ or transition professionally as a result of family obligations, please tell us a little about that decision and how it has turned out.
I decided three years ago this summer to become a solo practitioner. I stopped and looked at my life and decided that I could cut back on the number of cases that I was handling and still make a living. Cutting back on cases allowed me to handle them myself and work from anywhere most of the time. The kids were getting older and I wanted to be able to spend quality time with them and stop having sitters and after school care all of the time. I still work at home and at night if needed, but I can go to their activities without guilt, and also travel if we want.
Do you ever feel conflicted as a working mom?
I knew that when we had kids, it would be difficult with our careers, but we both had reasonably flexible work arrangements. I have been the one to change my practice more to merge with the kids needs, but that has always been my pleasure because I like my job, but I also like to do other things. I do not believe that quitting my job would have made anything easier or made anyone happier. My kids have learned a lot since we both work and I think it has made them who they are today. Anyone who says that they are not conflicted is fibbing, but we just did what we thought was best for our family and kept going!