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When I need a break at work – and I often do – I tend to turn to the Internet for quick break from my work reality.  During this interlude, I often visit the New York Times.  In the past several days, I’ve come across different articles that speak to me in very different ways.

Is Law School a Losing Game?

If you know my background, you might think that my immediate answer to this question would be “yes.”  After all, I left a big law job where I made a good salary, but made me hate life, to somewhat aimlessly go back to school, and then to return to a small law job where I make half of what I used to make (and that was when I worked fulltime.)

I will be the first to admit that I hated law school.  I hated every minute of it.  Fortunately, I did not have to pay for this torture.  Instead of going to the best school (according to U.S. New & World Report rankings) where I was accepted, I went to a well-regarded second-tier state school that paid me to attend.  After graduation, I knew that I was one of the fortunate ones.  Although I graduated before the downturn in the economy, many of my classmates (my husband included) finished law school without jobs waiting.  Unlike them, I knew where I was going.  The problem was, I didn’t like what I found when I got there.

Even so, law school was not a losing game for me.  It stretched me in ways that I didn’t realize that I could stretch.  It resulted in my ability to take part in a profession that, while not inherently enjoyable, could sustain me if I needed it to.  And, in my current job, I actually get to help people who really need help.  It is not my dream job, but it isn’t a losing game either.

The Benefits of Fever

I wrote about Bear’s high fever in October.  Seeing the thermometer read 104 was shocking – and frightening.  Despite my great alarm, Bear’s pediatrician kindly reassured me that a high fever was not a cause for alarm.  He told me to look away from the number and to assess Bear’s behavior.  He explained that a high fever would not permanently damage her, despite common thought.

Intellectually, I knew that he was right.  However, as a mom, I was terrified.  I knew that Bear was miserable and becoming progressively more miserable.  I was desperately afraid that as the night wore on, her fever would rise to a level where no one could help her.  Fortunately, her fever spiked and broke, and by the next morning, Bear was almost back to her old self.  Her body won that battle, but my heart was still damaged from fear.

I agree that patients and their parents should be better educated on the benefits of fever.  But, ultimately, it will serve medical professionals well to remember that when a child is sick, a mom thinks more with her heart than her head.

Newberry Awarded to Debut Author

When I was in elementary school, I eagerly anticipated the day each year that the librarian put out the cart of Newberry and Caldecott award nominees and winners.  I remember the joy I felt when I was fortunate enough to borrow our school’s one copy of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I recall reading Lincoln:  A Photobiography by Russell Freedman in the bathtub (shh, don’t tell my librarian), and I was surprised that I enjoyed it.

I am eager to get my hands on Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  It is the kind of book that I would have loved as a young girl growing up in rural Kansas.  In fact, it is the kind of book that I would love to write someday.  Ms. Vanderpool’s story inspires me.  She wrote Moon Over Manifest in bits and pieces; between making lunches and shuttling kids to activities.  She knew that she wanted to write, and she found a way to put her story onto page.   If she can do it, so can I.

I once corrected someone who introduced me by saying that I was a part-time mom and a part-time attorney.  No one need remind a mother that, above all else, she is a fulltime mom, no matter how she spends a portion of each day.  I am five years out of law school, two years into my second job, one year into motherhood, and still searching for that thing that makes my life whole.  My daughter certainly fits the bill.  She fills the void in my heart like nothing ever has before, and she gives my life immense meaning.  I long to step away from my career and to find satisfaction in just being “Mommy,” and to be quite honest, being both a lawyer and a mother does not make me happy.  However, being a mother has brought me to a happier place than I have been in years, as though I am suddenly reveling in the warmth of a 50-degree day after a long, hard winter.  I long to bare my arms and bask in the sunshine, but it is not spring yet.

Perhaps I am a dreamer – and I see no shame in this – but I want my career, whatever it might be, to fill me with satisfied purpose.  I want to believe wholeheartedly that the precious time I spend away from my family is spent doing something that engages my soul and in doing so, makes me a more compete being.

I’ve almost come to the place where I can jump off the barreling train that is the law.  I’ve done it once before, but unfortunately, I quickly discovered that the place where I landed was not going to fill me with the satisfied purpose that I sought, and I clamored back on the first train that came my way.  Now, I find myself on the edge again, not desperate to throw myself off like before, but with a good enough foothold in my career and perspective on motherhood to know that the place my heart desires exists.  I can just barely glimpse it, but I know that it exists.

I fear that others will misperceive my certainty as fickleness and see my desire as a mirage.   I am afraid that I might burden my husband with dreams that are only dreams and force him alone to carry the responsibility of creating all real stability in our lives.  It is this fear that causes me to grip more tightly to the train.

I am both a mother and a lawyer, and I am comfortable embodying these roles.  I am comfortable, but not fulfilled.  Becoming a mother has given me an additional, but all-encompassing, identity beyond that of my profession.  Let there be no doubt that I want to be a mother first and foremost.  But I also want to be something else, and I want that something else to fill my tank in the same way that the law depletes it.  Unfortunately, making good on this desire requires me to stretch, accept fear, and take risks before I can find proof that writing may lead me to this place.

It may be that this blog is all the writing that I ever do.  But, it is my brainchild; my inspired idea.  As I raise my daughter and take pleasure in her every moment, and as I spend time away from her helping others with problems that burden and haunt me, I intend to grow inspiration here and to allow it to fill me until I am confident enough to let go of the train and fall into that place of completeness.


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