It's been more than two years now that I've been "of counsel" with my law firm. People ask me all the time....what exactly is "of counsel?" Andy is usually quick to point out it's "sans paycheck." Actually it's just the very nice way my firm has kept me connected, on the letterhead, invited to social outings, all with the possibility that I'll return at some point. Which I plan to. One day. When I can return without toting my breast pump along with my briefcase.
So I've been in a strange place these past two years and have suffered sort of an identity crisis. Especially when someone asks me what I do? I mean, where do I start? I am a sanitation technician, interpreter, nurse, meal planner, head chef, personal shopper, referee, animal control officer, and general domestic engineer extraordinaire. Oh yeah, and I'm also an attorney.
One of my most memorable episodes dealing with this was when I was about 14 months pregnant with Number 3. I was at a birthday party with William and several of us parents were standing around talking. The father of one of the kids asked me (or so I thought) "What do you do?"
Ever have one of those out of body experiences where you are like floating high above yourself looking down, wondering why someone doesn't slap that crazy person and make her shut up? It was like that. I started in, explaining, "Oh I'm a lawyer. I mean I was a lawyer. Well actually I still am. I'm just at home right now. I mean I guess I'm a stay at home mom. But I'm still on the letterhead at my firm and I could practice law if I wanted to but I mean who has time with all the diapers and feedings and sleepless nights and carpooling, and blah blah blah. But I'm going to go back. At some point. That is if I can ever stop having babies. HA HA HA HA."
At this point all the parents are looking at me like I'm crazy. And then this Dad says....and I still turn red when I remember this.... "NO. I said, WHEN are you DUE?"
"Oh.... (and I start rambling again)....HA HA....I thought you said what do you DO?
I think it was Sandra Day O'Connor who responded, when asked whether a woman can truly have it all that, yes, she can....just not all at the same time. For me this has been true. I know that I can do it all. And I will do it all. Just not all at once.
Truth is I'm very proud of the fact that I'm able to stay at home right now and care for and nurture these three precious little souls. I'm also proud of the fact that I made it through three years of law school and the bar exam. But I'm even prouder that I managed to walk away from that birthday party without uttering another word and left with at least a portion of my dignity intact.
At least that's what I told myself.