Friday, March 25, 2011

on being a mom (or, what a difference a year makes).

one year ago this past tuesday i found out i was going to be someone's mother.  so many things have changed over the past 365+ days that that fateful morning seems so long ago and yet, as the cliche goes, it seems like it was just yesterday.  i can still remember the rush of emotions as i looked at that stick, my hands shaking, pure joy, excitement, anxiety washing over me.

one year later, and things just seem different.  which is still odd to me because in so many ways, i am the same person i was a year ago.  i have essentially the same haircut, i live in the same house (at least for a short while longer), i drive the same car, work at the same place and watch the same tv shows.  but motherhood changes you... in a way that i can't necessarily describe.  things are just different.  motherhood makes you responsible for the life of a little person, and suddenly the view changes.

there are, of course, the obvious changes, which i've mentioned a few times here on the 'ole blog [ahem, breastfeeding].  there are the expected changes (like the whole not getting a ton of sleep and usually having a bit of baby spit up on all your clothes).  but then there are the things i never expected.  i can't watch intervention now.  i just can't.  it hurts my heart to watch those lost souls and think about how they're somebody's baby.  there's a broken-hearted mom out there, and it pains me to think about what that might be like.  there's the endless worrying.  i have woken up in the middle of the night not to a crying baby, but to ponder the benefits of starting a 529 plan for jack.  i sometimes find myself staring at his tiny little face, wondering what he'll look like at age 5, at age 10, at age 25.  i wonder if we'll be able to teach him everything he needs to know, if we can instill in him the importance of being kind and good, while helping him learn confidence and self-respect.  i think about him growing up, and making friends, and finding love and starting his own family (i know; i'm insane... he's only 5 months old).

besides being bombarded with irrational and insane worries, i've noticed that i just think about things differently.  and this week, that manifested itself in my work.

when i started practicing law, i never intended to practice family law.  in fact, i was very vocal with my colleagues about not wanting to work in that area.  but there were some personnel changes at my firm, and voila!  it just so happens that i do a fair amount of family law work.  not that i wasn't caring and compassionate and all that jazz pre-jack, but having a baby has certainly changed the way i feel about my work.  whenever i meet with a new client, i always find myself thinking about jack, and what he would go through if he were in the situation.  maybe this was a good thing, maybe it will make me a smarter, more conscientious litigator.  but it's certainly keeping me up at night.  i have a case right now that is just.... hard for me.  because i believe in my client, and i believe that he has his children's best interests in mind.  and yet, that isn't enough.  the attorney on the other side doesn't give a shit about helping this family navigate their way through this tumultuous time.  i don't know if he cares about the money he's making, or if he just enjoys putting on a show, but he's certainly not thinking ahead.  he can't be remembering that two little kids have to move on from this divorce.

but i do.

the other day, after a particularly rough day in court, i thought about my client's kids, and then i thought about jack.  i thought about what he'd go through if (god forbid) john and i were to ever divorce (just a disclaimer: we're not).  i can't even really imagine it, but i can say that i hope we'd both be mature enough to cooperate for the sake of our son.  there are always easy ways out.  and there are always people willing to take those roads, even if doing so will mean destroying the lives of a family under enough stress as it is.  i never liked this notion before last october, but it sickens me now.  i almost can't bear it.  i almost lost it this week when i came face to face with opposing counsel who chose to turn what should have been an orderly hearing into a desperate mud-slinging contest.  it was sad.  it was uncalled for.  i couldn't stop thinking about the hearing, or the unfortunate consequences.  i woke up several times in the night, worrying about those kids.  and i began to wonder if mothering and the practice of family law are compatible.  oddly enough, you'd think they'd be perfectly attuned to one another.

the thing is, when opposing counsel employs tricks or uses dirty tactics, i have to similarly engage in order to stay in the game.  but the truth is, i don't want to practice law that way.  i want to help people resolve their issues.  i want to be fair and compassionate.  i want to be just and kind.  it is hard to see this sort of behavior rewarded with results.  it's hard to explain to a client who's world just got turned upside down that he has to be the bigger person.  it's hard not to take this personally.  it's hard not to feel a mother's heartbreak.  because that's what i feel.

a little over a year ago, i found out i was going to be someone's mother.  what a difference a year makes.

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