Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Scrutiny Of A Mother: It's In The Memories

I gave work the finger by leaving an hour early today. But still, leaving the office at 3:50 did not get me home until 6:40ish. Picking up the kids from my mom's house usually adds a good 20  minutes to the commute (we have to pack snacks for the road, clean up toys, collect our things, make sure everyone goes potty or has a fresh diaper) making my 2.5 hour commute even longer. Tonight, as soon as we got home, the kids turned into pumpkins, Ryan having screamed most of the 40 minute drive of the last leg of our journey and Jacob having slept through it all so soundly that he peed himself.

After feeding the kids a super-mom meal of old dino-shaped chicken nuggets, oatmeal, and strawberries, I really had no choice but to put them to bed. I just couldn't handle the whining anymore. Regretfully, I tucked them in and snuck out of their room. As soon as I closed the door, I felt a heaviness weighing me down. I hadn't seen them all day. I hadn't got my one hour of cuddle and play time.

Sometimes, as a working mom, I feel so absent. Even when we are under the same roof. Often times, I come home exhausted. And they come home bursting with pent-up tantrums. It doesn't help that I carry around mental baggage of the urgent work projects waiting on my desk.

I wonder sometimes if the little boys around my kitchen table are getting enough attention from me. Real attention. Focused attention. Even when I set aside time to give them my attention, I find their childish games are amusing at first but then quickly become repetitive and boring. As we sit down for a fourth game of Uno or Memory or See-What-Jacob-Can-Pretend-To-Blow-Up, I'm itching for an excuse to escape. Maybe I have to do some laundry? Isn't there a sink full of dishes? Then a pang of guilt strikes right through my mommy-soul. How did my own mom play board games with us for hours and not want to melt into the perfect-shade-of-beige carpeting of my childhood home?

It's easy to tell when a child's physical needs are being met. There is no mistaking the smell of a dirty child, the cry of a hungry child, or the nagging of a tired child. But how do you know if your kids are getting enough of the one resource you cannot multiply? How do you know your kids are getting enough of your time? How do you know if you are filling them up with enough good memories of you to outweigh the memories of the moments of your absence?

As I tuck my children in, pull the covers tightly around them, smooth their hair, and kiss their cheeks, I stop to study them for just half a second. I wish I could sneak inside their heads and scrutinize the contents of their memories. What does it look like in there? Every night I ask myself the same thing: "did I give them enough today?" I'm so terrified that the answer is no. That the answer is perpetually no and that they are running on the fumes of a year-long deficit of their mommy's attention.

Everything feels so out of my hands right now. I don't know how to conjure more time out of thin air. I feel trapped in a sea of routine and habits that I cannot change or give up. Too many times, I put other things before my own kids or just give them half of my attentions.

I always promise myself I will do better tomorrow. Always. Only to find myself asking the very same questions.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holiday Weekend: Work & Play

As a gift from opposing counsel, an intense motion landed on our desks mid-last week. The motion was an attempt to exclude evidence that would be really critical to our case. It also involved an issue of first impression in our state (at least no higher court had ruled on the issue). Our response was due today which meant my boss and I took turns working on it all holiday weekend. Good thing our family hadn't planned that trip...!

It was kind of a bummer only because the motion was intense and complicated. I really only worked 9 hours over the span of three days but it was constantly hanging over my head. It wasn't the completely carefree weekend that I had been looking forward to. (There is a major silver lining regarding this motion: the documents that the motion attempts to exclude, the documents that are  the smoking gun of our defense...we didn't even know they existed until we read opposing counsel's motion! The motion was a gift from them in more ways than one.)

When I wasn't scouring Westlaw for obscure case law from all across this great country, I managed to have a mostly laid-back, fun weekend. Despite the ever-strong pull of the couch, I managed to get some running in. I am so relieved that it is no longer like pulling teeth to get my body to run five consecutive miles. I can even run below 8:00 mile pace. I'd eventually like to run another half-marathon but I still have a ways to go. I have to be able to belt out 10 consecutive miles without pushing myself too hard before I will sign up for a half. So yeah, I need to be able to double my workout.

My favorite thing about weekends is waking up slowly and lounging with my favorite men:

I took the kids to Chuck E Cheese on Saturday. I love that place. It's like my version of a casino. I absolutely hate casinos and gambling because I hate losing money. But at Chuck E Cheese, you can always win a ticket! After many trips to CEC, I've totally learned how to game the system. Literally. There is one game in particular that I've completely mastered (e.g. I've memorized the timing of the spinning lights) so I am guaranteed to be a "big" winner (12 tickets per coin!). I'm so very proud of my skills. I'm pretty sure I just rewrote the definition of the word "pathetic." But that's ok.

Sunday I met up with my sister and we took the kids to the YMCA pool. Ryan lasted 30 minutes before the bluish color of his lips began to alarm me. Jacob continued to splash with his aunt while we watched from the warmer sidelines. The pool is heated but it is still never warm enough for my liking. We then enjoyed a relaxed late lunch fireside at Panera. Even when our weekends don't involve anything thrilling, I absolutely enjoy just spending time with my kids outside of the house. I just love soaking up my time with them over the chores and errands and other mundane tasks.

One sign it is the weekend: Jacob is perpetually pant-less.

We laid low on Monday. I don't think I even changed out of my pajamas or left the house. Along those lines, I didn't blow dry my hair once over the weekend. I never put on anything more fancy than yoga pants and I don't think I even put on a bra! And I took naps each day. That part was fantastic. I didn't even mind billing hours from my own couch because I knew I could close the laptop every once in a while to "rest my eyes." Which I did. Trust me.

These guys took lots of naps too:

On a different note, tonight is our six year elopement-versary. I can't believe it's been six years. That's incredible to me. We celebrated by sharing some Taco-flavored chips while being Jacob's Dinner Enforcement and picking up all the food Ryan kept flinging onto the floor. We're so romantic....honestly though, we pride ourselves in being very low-maintenance and low-expectations people. We don't feel compelled to pamper ourselves often. Maybe sometime next month we will plan a dinner date. Or, if the gravitational pull of the couch is stronger, maybe we won't.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Brunch With Kids... Or "What's In My Water?"

This morning, in a fit of bravery (read: delusion), we decided to take the kids to brunch. It had been a while. Which was intentional. It went surprisingly well, at least the first half.

For the first half of breakfast, Jacob sat patiently and, with much concentration, practiced his letters with the free crayons and kid-friendly coloring menu. He showed us that he spell almost any letter. He can also write his name. I love that his "J"s curl the wrong direction, in perfect child fashion. Ryan was given his very own coloring crayons and, copying his big brother, began to color his very first picture. He held his crayons upside down as he tried to drag them across the paper, one in each fist. It was adorable.

As we waited for our food to arrive, our storybook outing ended abruptly. Ryan lost interest in coloring and threw all his crayons on the floor and onto the table next to us. When my husband and I finished corralling all the crayons, we noticed that, in our distraction, Jacob had eaten five packets of jelly. As much as he tried to deny it, the proof was on his face and in the empty jelly packets on the table. Then I turned my attention back to the table and saw two soggy packets of Splenda floating nonchalantly in my water. The jury is still out on that one.

Our food finally arrived. When Jacob saw that his plate only had three pancakes and not four (he is four, four is the only number that matters), he wigged out. "I'm soooo hungry! I need FOUR pancakes! Mommy, I'm going to starve!" I held back the urge to tell him about the poor starving children in Africa. I'm saving that for when he is six. "Eat what you have first and then we will see!" I snapped.

Ryan, who had been sitting so patiently and calmly for the first fifteen minutes of breakfast, immediately became antsy. He writhed back and forth dramatically in his highchair, pointing to the ceiling for no reason at all. Maybe this kid will be an actor? I put a pile of pancakes, hash brown pieces, and toast in front of him. This kept him busy for...two whole minutes.

As my husband was cutting Jacob's (three!) pancakes, I turned my attention to my own food (over-medium eggs with toast). As I went in for my first bite, I used my other hand to redirect a blue crayon out of my water glass. On the other end of the blue crayon was Ryan's chubby, white-knuckled fist. As I moved my water onto the other side of my plate, I caught Ryan's face and saw that he had somehow gotten blue crayon markings all over his forehead. I laughed. He laughed. When his lips parted into their devious smile, I saw that his teeth were also covered in blue crayon pieces. My smile instantly drooped downward.

I took the crayon from Ryan's hand, dug a cracker out of the diaper bag, and placed it on the table in front of him. SOMEHOW, I got about two more bites of breakfast in my mouth before Ryan started javelining food across the table. Before we knew it, we were in a rainstorm of hash browns and sticky pancakes. I removed a sticky pancake from my arm. Jacob laughs hysterically. My husband and I instantly roll into "Operation Baby Storm" mode and remove any and all objects from within Ryan's reach. That's when I noticed a pile of pancakes on the floor, indicating that Ryan hadn't actually eaten a single thing.

Jacob, who had complained about not getting four pancakes, finished the first one and proclaimed that he was "SO FULL!" He ducked under the table in an attempt to escape. This is when we resorted to bribery. "If you sit in your seat until we are done eating, you can have a balloon" Sadly, this doesn't work. Ryan almost wriggled out of his highchair and Jacob proceeded to crawl under the table. I let Ryan out of baby jail and tried to walk him around the restaurant. He slipped out of my arm and scooted his way to a pancake that he had thrown on the floor earlier. Which he eats. Of course he head refused to eat them when they were on his plate, but now that they are on the floor...

The old ladies next to us were smitten with Ryan and his one-legged scoot and laughed as he ate his breakfast off the floor. I let my husband take over Ryan duty and sat back down to my breakfast. When I took a sip of water, I nearly choked on the soggy cracker that Ryan had slipped into my glass. I must have put the glass back within the dangerous Ryan Zone after taking a sip.

Finally, it was time to pay and leave. We rounded up our children, tipped generously to make up for the mess we left behind ,and headed to the door. Each child was given a balloon and Ryan immediately ripped his balloon off the string. How?! How?! We procured the balloon from the ceiling and tied it back onto the string. Then, the learned parents that we are, we tied the balloons to our kids' beltloops having learned long ago that balloons slip easily off a child's hand the second you go outside no matter how fancy you ties the knot, which will result in at least 60 minutes of tears.

We buckled the kids into the car and drove away.

Jacob: "Mommy?"
"Your car is like a trash can on wheels."
"Thanks Jacob."
"Hey mommy, I'm going to call you a princess in Japanese."
"Slave driver."
"That doesn't mean 'princess.'"
"Daddy taught me that. He said you are a slave driver. But I didn't know that word and so daddy told me it means "princess" in Japanese"

Gee. Thanks daddy! Caught red-handed!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Something Fun For Friday

For anyone with kids, this is so freaking hilarious:

I'm not usually a big fan of watching Youtube videos or other videos circulating on Facebook but this one minute video was worth the laugh! If this video was about my son, the child-man would be talking repeatedly in a robot voice and the topics of choice would be limited to not wearing pants and the ninja turtles.

Or maybe I'm just over tired having not slept more than 5.5 hours during any given night in the past two weeks. Latelty it seems that something inevitably keeps me awake, whether that be work or screaming babies in the middle of the night. Tonight I'm prepping for my first summary judgment argument and I'm definitely too nervous to sleep. I have a love-hate relationship for stressful new work responsilities that raise my blood pressure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grab Bag Of Topics

Oh man, you guys are awesome. There were so many times I wanted to delete the last post. I would start to hyperventilate about what I just did and then a second later I would be convinced that it was no big deal. I know I'm bigger than it. I just need to prove it to myself. And admitting my problem is the first in a long series of steps. The next will likely be telling my husband (he knows about my blog but doesn't read it). I know I should have told him first. I tried. So many times. But it's just so much harder to put everything into words than in text.

On a lighter note, work is crazy this week. Our office manager is out for her honeymoon (I went to my first Muslim wedding, in a mosque, which is a whole 'nother post in itself!). And we are down a paralegal. So those of us remaining slightly resemble headless chickens and have been reduced to doing a lot of unusual admin work.

My days lately are filled with writing and responding to motions, probably my favorite thing about litigation because it includes both legal research and crafting/organizing argument. I was never a very argumentative person and could never have imagined myself in debate club but I increasingly find myself having to argue positions that I don't actually think are that strong. Sometimes I love these challenges the most.

I even get to argue two summary judgment motions, the first one this Friday. We estimate our chance of success at yeah, no real pressure there. My boss has insisted that he will come and observe "just in case" and this completely rattles my nerves. It's hard enough to argue in front of a judge and opposing counsel. By noon on Friday, I will feel 100 pounds lighter.

My job requires me to tear apart and criticize statements of other people, craft a retelling of history that is favorable to our side, and put together responsive arguments. It's almost second nature now for me to want to respond critically to everything I hear. My poor kids hear me argue with news radio all the time. Today I even started to dip my toes into a couple of ridiclous Facebook debates (which I usually ignore like the plague- why the heck didn't I just keep scrolling?!). In the middle of one debate about teacher salary (why? oh why? I'm not even a teacher!) I accidentally boarded the wrong ferry boat. I walked onto the boat headed for my home instead of the boat to pick up my children. Luckily I caught the mistake in time and was able to board the correct ferry with 20 seconds to spare. We all made it home somehow.

Because we've been short-staffed this week, I was asked to come into the office everyday rather than my usual three days out of the week. At first I didn't think it would be a big deal. I did it everyday for a year and a half out of lawschool. But halfway through the week, my new schedule is already taking its toll. Mostly, I miss having the extra time with my kids.

When I have to go into the office, I leave my house at 7am in order to get to work at 9am. Then I leave my office at 4:45pm in order to pick up the kids at 6:30pm and get home at 7:30pm (or, if it is my husband's turn to pick up the kids, I take a different ferry and get home at 7pm). Either way, I get only one hour (of non-commute time) with my kids each day. This is not sustainable and I'm suddenly very apprecirative of the flexible arrangment that I worked out with my boss that I usually get to enjoy. This is going to be a very long week. I just need to survive until the three-day weekend...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Step One: I Have An Eating Disorder

I've been hiding a part of me for nearly a decade. Ten years of struggling. I'm terrified to share it now. I haven't told a single soul. But the deeper this secret lies, the easier it is to pretend that everything is normal.

I've spent ten years going out of my way to hide this. So it's very hard to finally share it. For that reason, I've hesistated pushing the "publish" button on this post. I'm afraid for people to know. Afraid of what they will think. I'm also ashamed. And afraid of disgust. All these years I've shrouded myself in a falseness. And all I really want now is to be the person that people think I am. If you know me in real life, please keep my not-so-secret as I slowly come to terms with this whole thing.

I have an eating disorder. It took me ten years to admit that because, until recently, I had convinced myself that it was no big deal. I'm not anorexic. I'm not bulemic. I do something much more disgusting. It's so absolutely ridiculous that it's hard to even type.

I chew food and spit it out. Like, lots of food. Candy mostly. Chocolate. Cookies. I've perfected this skill. Even worse, I've perfected the art of hiding this skill. I can do this in pure daylight. In the middle of a public space. In one sitting, I can spit my way through 36 granola bars, an incredibly large bag of chocolate, or an entire box of cookies. Or, on particularly bad days, all three. I do it until my tongue is raw and my jaw is sore. I fill plastic bags full of spit-up food and then go out of my way to hide them until I can dispose of them in secret. I do this nearly every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. For almost ten years.

I'm not sugar coating anything. It's as disgusting as it sounds. And there are no excuses.

Why? I don't know. I'm not depressed or anxious. I am happy about my life. I am generally happy about my appearance, although a little frustrated about the permanent squish hovering around my belly button (thank you my beautiful children, you are well worth it). I don't have any other eating disorders. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I eat plenty. I eat anything. Although I maintain a general idea of my daily calorie consumption I don't count calories or obsess over them. I enjoy cake at parties. I drink beer and wine during happy hour. I don't make myself throw up if I think I eat too much. I don't over exercise. The rest of me is generally healthy.

So why this? Why? I don't know. I think I do it because, well, I LIKE to. In the past ten years, I've never really wanted to stop. Well maybe I've tried to stop here or there. But in the span of just two hours I would convince myself that I need it and I like it and it's not bad. I always tell myself that I can stop if I want to, it's just a matter of wanting to. But maybe that's the problem. I can't stop because I can't convince myself I want to stop.

This is why I'm afraid of people finding out about my secret. If people know I do this, then it will be harder to hide it and then I won't be able to do it. My worst nightmare is the fear of not having any candy or chocolate in the house when an attack hits me. And so I stock pile it. And when junk food is in the house, I cannot help myself. It's a self-fulfilling cycle.

I never started thinking about how serious this was until recently. One day I was listening to an ad on the radio for substance abuse/addiction counseling. The description of the alcoholic portrayed in the ad fit me perfectly. Excuses. Shame. Secretive behavior. Inability to control both my actions and what I desire. It was a wake up a call. I am an alcoholic. Just with food. I have a problem. It controls my life.

Why am I telling everyone this? I dont know. What will people think? I don't know that either. I know what I would think: What makes an apparently fully functioning person who is a wife, a mom, and a lawyer, engage in this type of crazy behavior. How can someone who is supposed to be educated and a role model and make good life decisions constantly choose to do someting like this?

It's scary to let go of a secret you've kept and fought to hide for nearly ten years. And I'm pretty sure that most people don't even know about this type of eating disorder. I didn't even know it was an actual thing until I Googled it tonight- it is called, not so shockingly, Chewing and Spitting or CHSP. Where do I go from here? Will I ever have the courage to tell people who are close to me face to face. Those closest to me and who do not read this blog (i.e. most people in my life) still will not know about it.

All I know is that this really is an illness and that I have a long road ahead of me. This post is just Step One. And it's time to really do something.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Screaming All Night Long

Last night, Ryan woke up at midnight right as I was about to fall asleep. He didn't just wake up crying. He was screaming. And he proceeded to scream until he finally passed out on my bed, his cheek pressed against mine, his tense body perched up against me and his hand clutching desperately to my phone, which had distracted him for the last five minutes before he finally concked out.

Those 2.5 hours were HORRIBLE. He screamed and screamed and writhed around uncomfortably. He refused to eat. He didn't have a fever. He didn't puke. Nothing calmed him down. Not a bath (which made him scream harder). Not a bottle. Not being rocked continuously around the house for an hour. When I picked him up, he bend his body and kicked his legs out at me until I thought he would fall out of my arms. When I put him down, he tossed his body violently around the bed/sofa/floor OR he sat up, placed his blanky over his head, and screamed bloody murder.

It was frustrating, tiring, and terrifying. I felt so angry at him and so sorry for him at the same time. Then at precisely 4:30, he woke up and did it again. The rest of  the morning is a blur.  A blur of screaming (on Ryan's part) and crying (both Ryan and myself) and falling in and out of slumber for five minutes at a time. His screaming was so violent, so long, so ear piercing, I only thought of the worst, most serious scenarios.

At first I thought it was teething. But he has never had a problem with teething. EVER. Not even when he got four top teeth in the same day. And his crying and fussiness continued well into the day. The only thing I could fathom was some kind of stomach upset. Jacob had just gotten over someting weird (a four day sickness with only two episodes of puking and mostly just feeling ill). My husband is also getting over the tail end of a similar ailment. Whatever weird flu this is, it is creeping me out.

For the rest of the day Ryan was whinny and couldn't figure out what he wanted. Bottle. No bottle. Food. No food. To be held. To be put down. To play. To rest. Today was a complete disaster and one of the worst parenting days that I remember in a long, LONG time.

And of course it just happened to be a day jam-packed with a birthday party and a wedding. Somehow, with only four hours of sleep, I managed to survive both. But holy geez, things sure were miserable!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What I Learned This Weekend

When it comes to parades, my children simply cannot contain their excitement.

I guess I'll clap. But just this ONE time.

Even when you you show up to a public event in yoga pants and a dirty sweatshirt in my city, there will be stiff competition for the title of Worst Dressed. (People of WalMart, move over). My competition:

A one-yeard old child can entertain himself for 20 minutes by playing with a box of nursing pads.

When you hear your son yelling, "it's raining popsicles," in the next room, the chances are against you encountering something pleasant. No picture available. The image was just too traumatizing.

It is possible to win a summary judgment motion from your home while you are wearing yoga pants and when neither side showed up for the hearing because it was supposedly continued by the opposing party. (yay!!)

Running is addicting. This is something I knew but had forgotten. I've been running 5 miles every other day for the past couple weeks but now I just to run all the time.

Don't let your husband take your child to a festival without you. There will be consequences:

(There is a fish in there. Ugh. )

My one-year old son is showing great promise in the sport of "carrying random household objects in one's mouth."

It's hard to watch your baby grow up.

I'm totally ready for another baby (but someone else is very much NOT ready and is very protective of his Mommy).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Yoga Pants And Ape Suits

Last night, mother's day evening, because my boss had promised a client that we would hand over a deliverable by Monday morning (and because I am nothing if not a procrastinator) I plopped down in front of my computer at precisely 8:30 p.m. and worked furiously. I researched and scoured case law and strung together semi-coherent sentences about complicated issues of law until my eyeballs literally lost their ability to focus. Two hours into my work I took a ten minute break to rest my eyes. After that, I didn't look up again until my project was completed, at 2 a.m.

I went to bed and dreamed about the memo I had just written. My dream self told me that I needed to take out the entire statement of facts because no one wants to read facts. Then I dreamed that my boss had a heart attack and this meant that I had a day off. I wonder if that is a sign that the mere five hours of sleep I get each night are catching up to me?

Today, after I handed in my project, the boss asked me to lead a conference call with the client to go over my research. It felt amazing. I knew the cases inside and out and when the client asked what year a specific case was published, I was able to rattle it off out of thin air, much to my own surprise. I felt so on fire and competent. The client would have never known that I was wearing yoga pants (working from home today).

As I was about to punch out for the day, my phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize. On the other line was the owner of a law firm near my house asking if I could interview today. I had completely forgotten that last week, after another long work night which ended at 1 a.m. I had whimsically sent my resume and a cover letter in response to a job posting I found on the internet. It was so close to my home, I figured that I had to apply.

"Can you be here in 40 minutes?" He asked.

I think the normal response would have been, "Heck yeah, I'll be there in 40 minutes" as a normal person would have proceeded to go to a clothing store and purchase something other than yoga pants for the interview. I, on the other hand, very uncooly admitted that I was wearing yoga pants. However, the interviewer was not able to reschedule anytime soon. 40 minutes from then was the only time he was free this week.

"We are a very casual firm." He prodded. "It won't bother me." No matter how casual of a firm it might have been, I doubted that they had ever conducted an interview in yoga pants.

He finally talked me into stopping by. I figured I would stop at a store on my way in and purchase any kind of pants in something close to my size that was anything but yoga pants. But the man on the other end of the line must have read my mind. He said, "Don't go buy clothing just for this interview. Honestly, just come as you are, it won't bother me."

Great. If I didn't show up in yoga pants he would know that I had bought something just for the interview against his instructions. If I DID show up in yoga pants....well, I was showing up in YOGA PANTS for heaven's sake! In the end I showed up in yoga pants. In doing so, I had just created the best interview story I have ever heard (well, aside from the one time I was interviewed by a lawyer who was chewing tobacco and spitting it into a chocolate milk container during the enitre interview).

As the interview began, the man went on and on about the position. It was for an associate attorney job in a successful practice in a niche and impressive area of law. It was a job that would require extensive travel and a hectic work schedule. It was a job that carried some degree of prestige. One that would challenge and satisfy. One that could take over my life, lead to an amazing career, and really suck me in.

Sitting there in that church-converted law office with an open floor plan filled with classic wooden desks and fancy woven rugs, clothed in my beloved yoga pants, I had a crazy realization. I couldn't help but notice how much different I am now from the me that went to lawschool.

The me that went to lawschool would have put on an ape costume and done cartwheels for this job (which is kind of funny considering that the current me hadn't even dressed for the interview and was sitting there in yoga pants). The old me would have drooled over the long hours, extensive travel, and challenging topics. The old me (the me that was a student athlete who worked every week day and babysat every week night pretty much from highschool through lawschool) would have loved this opportunity and would have worn this job on my sleeve like a fancy badge. That me was a highly motivated overachiever.

But the new me kept trying to feign interest. I actually had to force myself to sound excited and eager. While a tiny little peice of old me wanted to emerge from the murky depths of my apathy, it kept getting shut down. The overachiever that I once was has died. It didn't die overnight. It kind of fizzled away slowly. Somewhere between burning out in lawschool, having kids, and entering the dark side of my twenties, I lost that drive. When someone says, "long hours" I no longer think of an opportunity to prove myself, gain valuable experience, or work my way up the ladder of success. Now, all I can think of are the moments that I will not experience with my children. A half day of work on Saturday no longer equals a half day of extra experience and praise. It means one less trip to the zoo. One less ice cream cone enjoyed in the park. Two less meals as a family. Five less hours filled with hide and seek, bike riding, or reading stories.

Oh God. Who AM I? Who is this person who would prefer to change poopy diapers and be verbally assaulted by children than to craft clever arguments and develop litigation strategies. What in the world happened to me? Why the heck am I sitting in a prestigous law firm in two-day old YOGA PANTS?

Sadly, the longer I sat in that chair, the less I wanted that job. The Medusa-like call of success and prestige and money no longer held any power over me. As the interviewer rambled on about the 200 depositions he had taken last year, I grew sad. I had just given up an hour of rare weekday time with my kids for this?

The interview finally ended and as I walked out the door, I didn't even care whether he would call me back for round two. I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for my current job situation. Sure, my paycheck is kind of depressing but I get to spend two extra weekday mornings and afternoons with my children on the days I work from home.

I'm pretty dang lucky. Even if the old me would not have agreed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Love & Hate: Lawyer Edition...Brain Overheating

I hate working plaintiff cases. Probably because I'm cynical about most people and being an advocate for plaintiffs is a huge challenge for me. Also, dealing with medical providers gives me an ulcer. What? I can't just pay someone to give the medical opinion I want?

I love insurance defense. I like being on the "dark side." I love poking holes in arguments and claims. I like working with insurance companies. Not only is it repeat business but you get to deal with professionals who actually understand the system. There is also the challenge of representing a defendant while an insurance company pays your bills. Added bonus: coverage issues. If cases are like men's accessories, the typical personal injury lawsuit is a tie and a declaratory judgment insurance coverage lawsuit is a bow-tie. It's the nerdy, confusing, awkwardly sexy cousin. Maybe medical malpractice claims are ascots? Wow, anyway....sorry for that.

I love legal research.

I hate billable hours.

I both love and hate court appearances. The crazy mix of exhilaration and terror is fabulous. I am looking forward to my first summary judgment hearing next week.

I also both love and hate dealing with pro-se plaintiffs. Their letters are drenched in hyperbole and conspiracy theories. They are so dramatic and they take everything so personally. Their analysis of the law is usually very entertaining, especially when they get a lawstudent friend to write a letter for them. But they don't speak the language and are hard to reason with. The deck is so stacked againt pro-se plaintiffs that victories don't feel as good as they should.

I love yoga pants. Quality, durable, skin-tight yoga pants. It took me a while to come around but now I practically live in them. In fact, I just came back from a last-minute trip to Target during which I was wearing yoga pants with flats, my work-blouse, and a sequined hip-length cardigan. It was like elegance up top and comfort down low. I probably looked ridiculous. But I felt totally amazing.

Yoga pants for life! (I'm slightly deranged right now from lack of sleep and an abundance of work).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Legalese and Spouses

The problem with being a lawyer is that most people (non-lawyers) don't understand what you do. My dad is a lawyer. Whenever I showed any curiosity in his career or had to interview him for "career day" I left the conversation feeling more confused than ever. "I have no idea what my dad does," I thought to myself. Why couldn't my daddy just be a firefighter or a teacher or a doctor?

When I was in lawschool, the parents of the children I babysat always seemed so impressed. "Our babysitter is going to be a lawyer," I heard them brag on one or two occassions. I remember feeling very important. Then one day, a little girl that I babysat for asked me, "What is a lawyer?" The four year old had a very clear picture of what her daddy (a doctor) did at work, "he makes people feel better!" I tried to explain to the four year old the excitement and challenges of litigation and representing people who have been sued. It didn't quite translate into child-speak.

"When people are in car accidents, they have doctors to help them get better and tow trucks to tow their cars and lawyers to help protect help make sure people don't take all their money."

"Oh, like the police? Where's your gun? Do you have a badge? Have you been to JAIL?"

When you really boil it down, being a lawyer is a very abstract concept. Lawyers get paid to use their brains, think up ideas and arguments, and talk in a language that only the Courts understand. So yeah. That's what I do all day. Think, argue, and interpret.

The other night, I went to happy hour with my boss, his wife, and a mediator. When my boss' wife joined us she asked, "How did your summary judgment hearing go? Did you win your argument about circumstantial evidence? Did you file your motion in limine?"

My eyes bugged straight out of my head. My mouth might have hinged open, like a robot with a malfunctioning jaw. I looked like I had just seen a cat drive a car down a highway. My boss' spouse is one of Them. She's a non-lawyer. How is she conversing so easily about summary judgment motions and circumstanital evidence and motions in limine? I was thoroughly impressed.

My husband likes to talk to me about his work. And I always try my best to sound interested and give the appropriate amount of good feedback and praises. But I have been increasingly frustrated by his lack of ability to know what the heck I do all day. When I try to tell him about a really great ruling we got on a motion, his eyes kind of glaze over. After I explain how excited I am to have found an important case to use in a motion, he turns back to his computer and lets out closed-mouth "huh" sound (oddly, it's the same sound that he often gives me when I ask him if he likes what I made for dinner).

So, I kind of stopped telling him about my day or talking to him about my cases. He has also stopped asking. I've reached the point where I've given up hope of having someone at home to talk to about my days at work. It's a bit isolating and it's very frustrating. Especially when I have an uncontrollable urge to vent about something crazy opposing counsel did or an achievement that we accomplished.

I never wanted to marry a lawyer but I do miss the companionship of someone who can related to my work experiences. I guess this is where a network of lawyer friends come in handy. Maybe someday I will have time for a social life. But honestly, as lame as it sounds, I really like the company of my children right now (which is a good thing because it's often the only company outside of work that I get to enjoy). I never worry about them not laughing at my jokes (all I have to do is throw a fart sound in at the end). Or judging me when I have seconds of cake. Or thinking that I am weird when I throw all caution to the wind and act like a child. I will be so sad when they suddenly become too cool to hang out with mom. Darn, then I will have to go out and find some real friends.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Beach Bums

It's been a long, sun-filled weekend full of smiles.

But now, I'm about to settle into this week's episode of Mad Men, my much anticipated guilty pleasure of the week (Jon Hamm....yummm). So all you get is this:

My two beach bums enjoying the water.

All Play

My morning started promptly at 6:50 a.m. when Jacob bursted into our room and screamed, "Ryan's diaper came off!" I graciously, rolled over and pretended to sleep while my husband got up and did the dirty work. Which apparently involved wiping baby shit off the following: a baby, that baby's pjs, crib sheets, and a crib mattress. My husband put the baby to bed last night without pants on (while Jacob and I had an impromptu mommy-son date at the nearby Planetarium--seriously, it is within walking distance, I love my city!-- followed by Slurpees from the 7/11, also within walking distance). The only thing I can imagine is that Ryan took his diaper off on his own? The mystery of the nudist baby!

After that I couldn't really sleep. So I pulled myself out of bed and started my day with the kids. I made breakfast, surface-cleaned some of the house, outlined our meals for the week (thanks, Pinterest!), and then went on a five mile run, all before 10:00 a.m.!

All week long, the radio stations had been forecasting an 80 degree day, very rare for an early May in the Pacific Northwest. We decided to take advantage of the sun with our first inaugural zoo trip of the year. We have been members since Jacob was born and it was one of the best decisions we have made as far as family weekend entertainment goes. When I was a kid, zoo trips were so rare. My kids are lucky enough to go to the zoo at least once a month during spring and summer.

There are so many things to do at the zoo that, many times, we don't even bother to see any animals. Today was one of those days. Aside from touching the stingrays in the new stingray exhibit, we didn't see a single animal. And it didn't matter. Because today was absolutely perfect.

Our first stop was Stingray Cove to touch the stingrays. Jacob wouldn't touch them on his own and made me hold his hand so we could both touch them together. Ryan was more brave and dove right in for the stingrays.

When we had our fill of stingrays, we bought some overpriced popsicles and enjoyed the sun. Watching Ryan eat his popsicle wa hilarious. First he held it the wrong way.

Then he grabbed the sides with two hands.

When his hands became cold, he dramatically flung the popsicle down. Only to forget that it was cold and attempt to eat it once again.

Finally got it right
Jacob, who thinks every kid he meets is his new friend, started to play with bubbles and drew a flock of children. Before I knew it, I was in the center of the flock helping them blow bubbles and leading an intense game of bubble chase. I never feel more satisfied than when I am playing with a group of children and leading children's activities. This is in stark contrast to the extreme discomfrot I feel whenever I have to take charge in a room full of lawyers. There is something so wonderful about children. They thrive off of attention, they crave it. Give kids just a little of yourself and they give back twice as much. They never make you feel inadequate or stupid. They will always accept you. That is the magical world that they live in. I wish I could live there too.

As one by one the children left to meet back up with their families, Jacob would call out after them, "Bye, come back soon! See you next time!" Gah, I love that kid.

Nap time on mommy
Me in my pasty-white glory (aka my Seattle tan)

Next we played in the fountain park. Learning from past experienced, I had come prepared with swim diapers and swimsuits. Both kids loved the fountain park. Jacob made more new friends and Ryan garnered a large set of adoring fans. Ryan was the only baby in the fountain park and the other parents got a kick out of watching him keep up with the big kids as he scooted around on one knee.

Ok mom, I'm going to get wet now. Bye!

Ryan chased fountains all over the park. He wold reach a fountain just in time for it to stop shooting then he would hold his hand out in a desperate attempt to "catch" the stream of water. Eventually another fountain would catch his attention and he would be off to try that one. The water was fa-reezing! Somehow, neither of the kids minded.

At the zoo park, I was shocked at the germophobia of all the parents around me. All I heard was "don't touch that!" and "don't drink the water, it's not filtered," and "you're getting your hands wet," and "come get some sanitizer." Seriously parents! Chill! It's a PARK! The only thing parents are supposed to do (aside from play) is prevent kids from breaking their arms or the arms of other kids. I will never get why some people insist on living in a sterile environment. Makes no sense at all. Life is messy! And what's so wrong with dirt? It's just little pieces of the earth.

After a while, I dried Ryan off with his big brother's shirt and let Jacob air-dry on the playground. Jacob buzzed around all over the big toys while I walked Ryan around. I say this about every age of babyhood but...I absolutely love the phase where toddlers will grasp your finger as they walk awkwardly all over the earth. As I walked with my toddling baby across the zoo, I felt that my heart was going to burst with happiness. I love holding this guy's hand. If it meant holding his hand and being right there for his every step, I would wish for him to never walk on his own.

Like his big brother, Ryan is quite an expert on the big toys. He may not be able to walk but he can climb up and go down the toddler slide all by himself. He will sit on the top of the slide and swing his big head forward until gravity kicks him and pulls him down.

He was a big fan of this hippo as well

We finally had enough of the zoo (or at least I had enough of watching Ryan go down the slide repeatedly) and we trekked the one mile back to the car. The zoo was packed when we arrived so we had to park very far away. I survived the day only thanks to this amazing thing:

My double jogger makes me life so easy. I love this thing!

Our trip home was just as eventful as the zoo trip itself. Even though I made him pee before we left, five minutes into our car ride Jacob told me that he had to pee. He made a pained face, danced in his booster seat and gripped painfully at his crotch. I figured he wasn't bluffing. As we stopped at an intersection, surrounded by cars on every side, I handed him an empty water bottle and let him pee in it. Sadly, this is not that rare of an event for us.

I got my payback later in the trip. When Jacob complained of being thirsty on our way home, I handed him a new water bottle. One swig in, I gasped and told him he was drinking the pee. Oh man, I'm such a bad mommy. But his face was priceless.

When I stopped at the mall to run a quick errand, Jacob did his pee dance again. I walked him to the bathroom only to discover that they had moved the restrooms! Since I had no other option but to walk halfway across the mall again, I rushed Jacob out the nearest exit and pointed him to a semi-concealed bush. A security guard was standing just five feet away but luckily did not notice a thing.

PHEW. Our trips are never dull!

Amazing days like today tempt me into thinking that, if only I didn't have to work, every day could be this awesome. But even as those thoughts enter my mind, I immediately recognize that I know better. I already know from my maternity days that if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would miss using my lawyer brain. I would miss the other type of satisfication in my life, the kind that only comes from a challenging and rewarding career. As much as I love being with my kids all day and as much as I love playing "stay-at-home mom," I know that it just isn't for me. There are two parts of me that need to feel fulfilled. Staying at home would only fulfill one of them. I would have the same problem if I chose to only focus on my career without starting a family.

I know being a mother is a selfless and constant role. It never ends. You can never parent "enough." There will always be needs to meet and duties to fulfill in one's role as a parent. Sometimes I feel conflicted in my desire to do something outside the home and my desire to give everything selflessly to my children. I know I haven't solved this conflict yet and I don't even know if there is an answer. All I know is that my kids are happy and healthy and loved. They are not lacking in anything. And I am also happy and healthy and loved on top of feeling challenged and full. Sure, there is a lot of stress and frustration and worry in the mix as well. But at the end of the day, that is just minor collateral damage.

I honestly feel a deep satisfaction in my role as a working mommy. In this, I have come a long way. My blog posts from when Jacob was a baby are dripping in anxiety and mommy guilt. I sure haven't found a "balance," since then but I have learned from my own experience that my kids are not lacking in love and care simply because I have a career. In fact, I'm pretty sure that all value our time together even more because of it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Marching Into The Lion's Den

On Saturday after we took our family portraits, the photographer told us that the pictures would be ready by Wednesday (yesterday). I know most photographers take several weeks to turn around their proofs so I was really impressed by the promise.

Wednesday came and I neurotically began to check my emails for the pictures. I also neurotically began to refresh the photographer's blog and website for sneak peaks. Let's just say that my obsession with family portraits mixes poorly with my vanity. Thursday morning, when there was no sign of the photos, I sent a cheerful little e-mail to the photographer. He told me to expect the photos by the afternoon. Of course, I took that literally and began to, once again, neurotically check my emails every three minutes as soon as the big hand passed over the "12."

And now, here we are at 9:00 p.m., no sign of the photos and I'm going crazy! Every little buzz from my phone sends my heart racing. I don't think I will be able to concentrate again until the photos arrive.

As I mentioned, I skinned my knees really badly last Thursday on my way home from work. My knees have scabbed over and they are so freaking painful. Forget about the fact that I can't wear skirts to work (the staple of my work wardrobe). Everytime I straighten or bend my knees the scabs pull from the skin. Ryan likes to pull up on my legs and frequently bumps into my large bruises. I occassionally forget about my injuries and will try to kneel on one of the knees, especially when I'm on the floor with the kids or changing Ryan's diaper, causing me to let out a high-pitched shriek. I feel so crippled. I swear, you never know quite how important a body part is until it's injured.

Yesterday, one of the partners asked me to research whether we have a good faith argument to oppose a motion. I did my research. I tried so hard to find a clever, killer argument. Unfortunately, I think we are hosed on this issue. I wrote a neat little memo outlining my thoughts. The basic gist of the memo was, "there is this tiny little shred of a weak-ass argument we can make but we will not win this one."

As I was typing the memo I kept hoping that he wouldn't want to oppose this motion. I thought to myself, "Well, at least *I* won't be the one that has to face the judge."

The partner's reply: "Draft the opposition and be prepared to argued it."

Oh great. Eff. My. Life.