Category Archives: Lawyering

My life post-Facebook 

My empty social media folder…


About three months ago, I quit Facebook. Indefinitely. Possibly forever.

After the election of November 2016, I had used social media as a serious crutch. Holy cow, that election was something. I don’t really want to recall how I felt in the run-up & during the aftermath. 

But I found a welcome outlet on Facebook. I’d never posted much, but I started sharing articles & posts, engaging in (sorta-friendly) political arguments with a variety of folks. I wallowed in liberal anguish with my “friends.” 

Then came the inauguration. The Women’s March. Anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Executive Orders & more local activism. On short notice, I rounded up the family, set off the alarm on Facebook & headed to the airport. Angry. (Though always thoughtful & friendly to the police officers protecting the various marches I attended.) Facebook was more than an on-line outlet for fake rage… it was IRL activism, y’all! Real & in-the-flesh organizing. 

But mostly I read. 

Doomsday articles. Articles that got me upset & scared. Debates on how some of us were doing activism wrong. Which made me anxious & upset for different reasons.

All of it made me feel overwhelmed.

Overwhelm was my default state.

I’d get the baby to sleep in the rocking chair & then I’d stay up late catching up on politics via social media. 

I was exhausted already & we were barely into this new presidency. How would I sustain my renewed activism over the next four (or less… or more) years? I was younger & childless & pre-Facebook when I was last involved in any activism. 

My partner suggested deleting the Facebook app from my devices. Yeah, right! I laughed maniacally. 

How else could I keep up? Stay involved in all the excellent local groups that had formed? How would I know about the next protest?

I was on Facebook on the train on the way to work. On the way home from work. Sometimes at lunch. At night after the kids were asleep.

Exhausting.

Overwhelming.

And, most importantly, unhealthy

So I finally heeded my parner’s advice & (publicly, of course!) said goodbye to Facebook. I deleted the app (though I didn’t kill my account). I thought for sure that my social media hiatus would be temporary. That I’d sort out my Facebook demons & hop back on in a more disciplined manner. 

Then the weeks started to pass by … and I just didn’t…

Maybe I’d get back on Twitter. Instagram. (Folks told me that Instagram was somewhat apolitical & happy, still.) 

Nope. 

Not interested. 

Because I started to notice something… I was deliberately more present with my family. Giving my son more attention. Relishing in the sweetness of my youngest’s babyhood. Conversing with my partner & even sneaking in a couple dates. 

It’s not that I had disappeared from family life previously, but it’s amazing how the brief snippets of social media distraction can cut into the time & headspace that should be focused on the actual living & breathing people in your immediate presence. 

And I started to think about my priorities. Talked (like, on the phone… not via Messenger…) to a dear mentor. My partner & I started some projects around the house. Started planning a vacation. Some camping trips. Sometimes we have dance parties in the evenings. Sometimes my partner pulls out his guitar & we stay up too late singing. 

It’s like a fog has lifted. 

And I’ve gotten over my social media FOMO. I know I’m missing some interesting & smart shit out there, but I can’t do it all. And for now quitting Facebook is an easy, clean way to make my life a bit more manageable, meaningful, & enjoyable. 

But saying goodbye to Facebook was not going to be a political cop-out. I saved my representatives’ contacts to my phone. I get an email each week about calls I might make. I’ve made calls. Sent emails. 

I keep up on the news on my own, with subscriptions to a small handful of real (not fake) news sources. A “curated newsfeed,” you might call it. 

But I still wanted to do more. And without the immediacy of Facebook, I could really step back to analyze my situation. 

I had never really been a protest-activist. Bless ’em, because it takes all types & all voices. 

No, in my post-Facebook meditation, I realized that I am much more into voice amplification. In college, I had a radio show, so I turned it into a platform for discussing issues affecting Latino students. As a law student, I organized events highlighting issues I cared about. As a small-time publisher, I’ve given space to a variety of voices.

So, now I’m spending some of the time I was spending on Facebook & protesting in a way that utilizes my skills and amplifies my impact: pro bono work. 

I’ve only just begun, but the prospect of helping to create access to justice for folks in my community (folks likely marginalized in the current political climate) is pretty darn exciting.  

I’m still in for a good protest, but I’m being a little more discerning. It’s gonna be a long ride. 

(Also, I started blogging more regularly again. Turns out, writing about parenting—& sometimes, politics—makes me happy.)

How are you managing (or mismanaging) your social media “life”? Do you have rules you abide by? Have you quit cold turkey? Never started?

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Filed under Feminism, Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Simplicity, Working

Loving my job(s)

(NB: I don’t usually get political on this blog & I don’t intend to go on any lengthy political rants that don’t relate to parenting or maternity leave, but I have to say… I wrote this post 2 weeks ago & since the inauguration, the current administration has made my day-to-day job very challenging & frustrating. What a difference a day makes! Still, the sentiment in this post is generally still true, so I’ve decided to publish it as is. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up…)

I’ve returned to work. But with the winter holidays, I’ve actually only had a couple of full weeks back on the job. 

There’s no doubt about it, it’s hard to be away for these long days. Commuting + a full day’s work… The hours add up. But…

I’m glad to be back to my work as an attorney. 

There. I said it. 

I am an attachment parenting mom & I don’t feel guilty about leaving my baby to pursue my career. 

Oh, sure, I have worries, but those are limited to the day to day sort. Will I pump enough milk? (Yes, Baby M is taking a bottle!) Will MFA Dad overbundle her in her car seat? Will the babysitter drop her? (There I have to be honest… She’s fallen once from a low chair & that was on my watch.) Will Grandma give her too much milk?

I don’t worry about the long term… Will she somehow be damaged because I left her for the office? Will we not be attached? 

No, those worries are silly. Not only is there no use in worrying about those things (my return to work was inevitable for a number of reasons, not least of which is because I love it), they are simply unfounded. But the main reason I think worrying too much is uncalled for is this:

Babies are remarkably adaptable. 

If they are safe & surrounded by at least one loving adult, they can thrive. If this weren’t the case, adoption would always be a failure. All children with working moms would be damaged because their mothers work. This simply isn’t the case. 

I read the lovely book Our Babies, Ourselves while I was on leave & one of the interesting findings that Meredith Small discusses is that while for many mammals immediate attachment to the mother is necessary for the infant’s survival, that is apparently not the case for human infants. Sure, there’s oxytocin, the famed “love hormone,” that can help facilitate a connection between mother & child, but babies have wily ways of convincing just about any adult to form an on-going attachment with him or her. Because survival. Maybe because historically childbirth was dangerous enough that our species planned for maternal death in infancy. 

Whatever the reason, the point is that babies are adaptable. 

We should be gentle with them. Easy with transitions. Meet their (prehistoric but very real) needs. But they are adaptable & forgiving. 

Women subject themselves to far too much hand-wringing on account of the working mom “dilemma.” It should not be a dilemma. Work if you need to or want to. Stay home if you want to & can. No matter what, make sure your child is attached to his or her caregiver, even if that’s not you at the moment. 

Now, there are many things to get in our way & that’s where the focus should be. 

Affordable, quality childcare is hard to come by. Many families do not have access to quality care outside of the family. 

Maternity leave is non-existent for most women, forcing new mothers to return to work before they’ve physically recovered, let alone bonded fully with baby. 

I was lucky by American standards. 

Eeking out a 5-month maternity leave as an attorney in the USA was no small feat & I appreciated every moment I spent with my new daughter. Forgoing vacation for 3 years to squirrel away every possible hour (in itself a luxury & lucky choice) & tightening the budget so I could supplement with unpaid leave was worth it for me. It shouldn’t be this way, but, America. I didn’t have to go back to work at 3 weeks postpartum (which should literally be a crime).

I’m not trying to be Polyanna-ish about working with an infant at home. There are challenges. My brain is fried by the end of a work day. I have zero time to take care of myself during the week. (Some would say showering is relaxing, but let’s be honest… I only take micro showers these days so my clients & coworkers won’t fear being near me!) When I have to be in the office, I barely get to see Baby M: I leave as she’s waking & come home just in time for bed, more or less. And that doesn’t feel good. 

But overall, it’s good to be back. And I’m ok with having two jobs again!

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Feminism, Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Working

My dream workplace…

I realize that breast milk storage bags likely have space for a name for use in hospitals, but I can’t help imagining a workplace where there are a bunch of bright, working moms supporting each other in work & in life. Having intellectual conversations & political discussions & chatter about babies. And coming together to take care of business collaboratively. And pumping. Lots of pumping. With a fridge full of pumped breast milk… requiring use of that name line, naturally. 

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Filed under Breastfeeding, Feminism, Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Snapshots, Working

You know you’re going to be late for work when…

You’re all dressed up for court (or, as dressed up as you can be in 90 degree heat when you’re 8 months pregnant…), you’re still on time for your bus, you go to gently (& quickly) wake your child with a good-bye kiss & upon kissing said child you hear a pathetic whimper & notice tears in his eyes…

I unknowingly woke T from a nightmare this morning & couldn’t just run to catch that bus after all. 

… And when I missed the next bus (after a pathetic attempt at preggo-running to the bus stop), I had to call MFA Dad for a ride… 

I was late to work, but at least I made it to court on time!

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Mother-birthday (Or, these boots were made for carrying, chasing, working, running…)

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T was due six years ago today. Today, two weeks before his sixth birthday, I am wearing the same boots that I bought that winter when I was pregnant with him (…when my feet were just a bit wider than they had been previously…).

Since that time, I have carried him in these boots. Walked hand-in-hand with him in these boots. In these boots, I have watched him run & laugh. I’ve chased him in these boots. We’ve had adventures in at least two states in these boots.

I have rushed to school in these boots. I have rushed home from moot court practice to T in these boots. I passed the bar in these boots. In their better (less scuffy) days, I sat in the courtroom in these boots. I met with clients in these boots. I now rush to work & back (always trying to maximize my time with T) in these boots.

At least, I’ve done & do all these things in the late winter/early spring, a short window when it’s not too cold or warm for wearing my boots. It’s a time of uncertainty, really. When will the ice melt…the snow stop…the rain start…the temperature tick upward..the plants go in the ground…?

The two weeks after my due date was a time of uncertainty in a season of uncertainty. I know so much more now. Today T is a person with a fun sense of humor & a kind personality.

But I still like to commemorate that time of uncertainty. I like to marvel at my good luck & laugh at how green I was. But this year, especially, I need to remind myself that in times of uncertainty we can be strong (as I was during the waiting & then the long labor) & adapt (as I did with a newborn T in the house). The truth is, it’s been a really trying 12 months, with highs & deep lows. T has brought me much light, but it’s still been difficult.

So this due date anniversary is my little celebration. An empowering reminder of how I was before T came screaming into our world & how far I’ve come. It’s my mother-birthday. I will continue to be strong & adapt.

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Five years of parenting (& living!)…

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Five years ago, I was over-pregnant (almost 2 weeks past my due date) & our labor was just beginning. I went to an acupuncturist for the first time, desperate to get things started after trying just about everything I thought might help or at least wouldn’t hurt.

I was afraid.

Afraid of labor. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the changes to come.

I was also probably afraid that I’d never sleep again (thankfully I was wrong on that front, though I didn’t sleep for a long while & sleep still isn’t the same…).

Labor was amazing (afterward, hormones coursing through my veins like a wonder drug, I told my mother it didn’t hurt a bit) & amazingly difficult (it lasted days, not hours, & did involve a fair amount of pain).

But all that seems like a long time ago now.

My now four-year-old, soon-to-be five-year-old, has changed me in so many ways. Really, he’s thrown my life into a tailspin.

And yet, not.

I’ve managed to maintain my identity in the ways that matter most to me. I still pursue my work with passion & integrity.

But, despite the technical difficulties involved in achieving “work-life balance,” I feel more… well… balanced. As I’ve been working on my next post on self care (coming soon… promise!) I realize that balance is about more than leaving work at a particular time or having scheduled family time on the weekends. It’s also a mental game.

There are work stressors & home stressors. In the past 5 years, life with T has taught me that managing those stressors is really a key in finding life balance. If I can leave home stressors at home, I can be more productive at work. If I can leave work stressors at work, I can be a better parent & partner & person.

I wasn’t always able to separate out these two stressors (& I still fail a lot). I’m a focused person, so it’s always been easy to fall down a rabbit hole of activity & stress. I didn’t exactly feel like I was living at those times & I was less than healthful & a poor partner.

Law school (especially 1L) will make just about anyone crazy & I jumped down that rabbit hole (more like a worm hole) quicker than my partner could say “why did I move across the country to be abandoned by my law school wife?” (Sorry sweetie!) Then T came along & suddenly I was wondering why I was trudging down a path I didn’t create (journal, advocacy group, research assistant, moot court, clinic, etc.). Did I really need to do all this stuff? I decided I didn’t. I chose two activities & threw myself into them to the extent one can with a newborn. I gave myself (most) weekends off for the first time in my life. I had a home life! (Note: This is not career advice for current law students! I have trouble contemplating the tough market you are facing right now!)

T (or life with T) has helped me to prioritize & compartmentalize in a way that has been liberating. Even though I have more responsibility & the stakes are higher, I am more relaxed. I feel like I am living in a way that is abundantly more fulfilling.

Thank you, T. And happy almost birthday.

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Filed under Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Studying, Working

Doubt

Well that didn’t take long!

I just finished week one at my new gig & it’s amazing how doubt has managed to flood my brain.

I don’t know enough about this area of law! I can’t possibly complete this first major assignment! I will never see my son again! I will never be able to cook (or help plan) a healthy meal again! I’ll never go to another yoga class… Sleep soundly… Talk with MFA Dad… Earn my client’s trust… Live up to my boss’s expectations!

Oh, the doubts & insecurities.

What it boils down to is this: I have a neurotic difficulty with transitions. I know this about myself. But while I made sure the freezer was stocked with soups & leftovers… While I picked out my work outfits for the week… I didn’t take 30 minutes to mentally prepare myself for the stress I was about to encounter. I didn’t go to a yoga class (which for me is a great stress reliever) & I didn’t schedule a massage (even though I have a gift certificate for my all-time favorite spot).

It’s hard to come face to face with our imperfections sometimes & I simply thought that by acknowledging the impending stressor, I could handle it.

I can’t & as a result I’m exhausted.

It’s also really difficult to start a new job while trying to maintain some semblance of a family life. I want to throw myself into my new job, but I want to see T before he goes to sleep in the evenings. I want to demonstrate my dedication & professionalism at work, but I also don’t want to set expectations that I cannot sustain (i.e. I’m so not the person who is going to stay late day in & day out, so why stay extra late now & pretend that’s me?).

I will strive to meet the high bar that has been set for me, but I don’t have to do it all now. One foot in front of the next right? First impressions are important, so I just need to focus on what I can accomplish instead of giving myself space to nurture my insecurities.

By the same token, I may not be spending oodles of time right now with T… but that’s OK. I’m letting that worry go because we have other ways to connect (another post) & he is truly in good hands when he’s not in mine. This adjustment period is temporary & we will find our routine & balance soon. (Besides, it’s not like my last job was a cake walk or allowed for free afternoons at home… I’ve just been spoiled by having 2 weeks off & taking T to the park every day…)

I could take a stroll down mommy guilt lane, but really… what would that change? I would still have to go to work every day. I would just be miserable at the thought of leaving T instead of excited about going to my new job! It seems hardly worth it.

The truth is that I hate saying goodbye to T in the morning. I hate having to scuttle him off to bed shortly after I get home. But I love being a lawyer. I love my job.

I can accept my roles as primary breadwinner (with all the stresses that role sometimes encompasses) & lawyer (ditto) & mother (ditto). I can also accept that I perform each role to varying degrees of success & sometimes I falter.

End sob story… Time to put my shoulder to the wheel! (Not that I really know what that even means… I need a weekend!)

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Feminism, Lawyering, Living, Mothering, Parenting