I love seeing my friends’ kids holding up beautifully lettered chalkboard signs on the first and last days of school; seeing the kids grow, how their opinions change, what they want to be when they grow up. I see lots of future princesses, police officers, doctors, rock stars, and presidents. If I had one of those signs growing up, in the little space for my future career, my sign would have said the same thing year after year.
I wanted to be a lawyer.
I’m not sure where my desire to be a lawyer came from. No one in my family had gone to law school and I can’t remember knowing a single lawyer growing up. But I knew a legal career was the one for me. Sure enough, I went to law school, studied like crazy for the bar, and got my ticket to adulthood (my license to practice law) in October 2009. I practiced family law initially then transitioned to education law. I enjoyed lawyering and helping find solutions to my clients’ problems.
My husband and I had our first daughter in 2013 and our second in 2018. The thought of me taking a break from work and being a stay at home mom had come up a few times since our first was born but we never discussed it seriously.
Then in October 2019, we had the sincere talk about our life: what it looked like and what we wanted it to look like. Our first daughter was a first grader and our second had just turned one. Our work week was filled with frenetic energy and we lived for the weekends. Our eldest was struggling for attention and was acting out. Our baby’s babyhood had passed in a flash.
We wanted – and needed – a slow down. We needed time to embrace our girls’ every stage of childhood, time to focus on our family, time to encourage our kids’ relationships with their grandparents, time for fun. I gave notice at my firm. I found a not-unexpected level of support from my colleagues. They knew me well enough to know my heart for my kids and respected me enough to send me off with good will, blessings, and a “see you later.” It was the best possible end to my time there.
My last day as a lawyer (for now) was December 17, 2019. The next day, the baby woke up with a fever. She was fine, but I can’t express my feelings of relief and joy that I had nothing else I needed to do that day besides snuggle and nurse her to wellness.
And then 2020 happened.
The timing was miraculous. I was home and able to help with “school” during closures and try to playfully distract everyone from the craziness of the outside world.
I’m going to be totally honest with you. I wrote a much different draft of this post before this one. It sounded like an apologetic justification for my decision. That’s not the impression I wanted to leave. I’ve had more than a couple of people ask me how I could decide to stay home – “to give up my career” – as a lawyer. All the school, all the work towards my goal, for nothing. Well it’s not for nothing. I still have my degree, I still have my brain. One day I’ll be back in pant suits and high heels (well, maybe not the heels). That day just isn’t today. Or tomorrow. It’s blissfully uncertain. Because my focus right now is on toddler music class, being a gymnastics taxi, a play date supervisor, and a banana bread maker. The stuff of homemaking and childhood.
I never would have thought this is where I’d be at 36. A stay at home mom to two kids instead of a hot shot litigator. But this is where my heart led me. And I’m so grateful for the twist in my journey.