Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Long, Lonely Tight Rope

I'm treading water while being spun in wild, erratic circles. At least that is how life feels right now. I'm trying to give 100% of myself to my job and 100% of myself to my kids and 30% of myself to my chores and then another 5% of myself to myself. That's 235%.*

Between juggling work and two kids and a disastrous commute and dinners and never-ending laundry, I often daydream about what life is like for other people. People without all these things. People who get to focus all their attention and energy on just work or just raising children. I gawk at the thought.

Lately we have been watching a series called House of Cards which features a childless couple in high-demanding jobs. In the show the characters get up early to go for runs or just to savor the early hours of the morning. They casually get ready for work each morning, enjoying their coffee and savoring a breakfast. They don't know what it is like to frantically drag children out of bed, beg those children multiple times to put on pants and shoes, convince those children to eat something other than fruit snacks, and whisk them out the door while racing against the clock only to discover just before the door closes that the youngest child shit his diaper, then rush to the office to START the day.

I don't ENVY them per se. The profound joy that my children bring can never be substituted for a limitless amount of free time. And envy is a slippery and dangerous slope. It breeds resentment and bitterness and other poisonous feelings. But I do, on occasion, try to fathom what life would be like if I weren't trying to give 235% of myself in different directions each day.

Months ago, I posted about how I had finally achieved peace and balance since taking my new job. But I've learned since then that balance isn't a destination. It's a tight rope. And, if you are a working mom, you walk that tight rope your entire career. One day you might walk several feet on the rope without feeling pulled too far in one direction. This doesn't mean that you will not plummet to the depths below on the very next day.

My satisfaction at work has been replaced with a teeter-tottering sensation. I love parts of my work and other parts are very hard. Some days I'm convinced that I should never do anything but litigation. But then something small will set me off and I'm ready to apply to ANY job that is not in the legal field. Lately I've been tempted to drop it all and find something completely unrelated to law. But what? I'm not qualified to do anything else. I'd be starting at some entry level job that, more likely than not, will be merely mind-numbing. I can't think of any other job, outside academia, that requires the same wonderful mixture of strategy and intellect that litigation offers.

No, I love litigation. Plain and simple. I just don't like anything else about the circumstances of my work. I hate my commute. I hate billable hours. I hate being tied to a desk. I hate working with crazy and unpredictable people. I hate office politics. I hate that the demands on my time will always outweigh what I am able to give. I hate that my office needs a really ambitious associate to take initiative on building the firm and I cannot be that person. I hate that I have this strong itch to devote my entire self to both my career and to my family yet cannot do this because....duh, 235% is not possible or sustainable.

What's the solution? Should I get off this fast moving train while my kids are still young. I'm so worried that their childhood is zipping by at an alarming rate and that I'm just letting it go. Should I just bail on this whole lawyer thing? (Very tempted somedays!) How will I pay back my loans? Or do I just continue to tread water, giving less than 100% of myself to everything, and just endure the guilt and regrets? This tight rope walking is seriously going to give me an ulcer. Do I just suck it up and be thankful (for a job and healthy, amazing children.)

There are no answers. Just the astounding realization that as soon as balance is achieved, the center of gravity shifts yet again.

To end on a happy note, I sure as heck love these guys and hope that I sufficiently show my love for them each day. That's all that matters, right?

Pointing at the camera lens.

It's amazing how much older he looks when he is actually on two feet.

*Forgive my absence on the internet lately. All my free time has been going to my summer reading list. I read blogs on the bus but rarely have time to comment.


  1. Wanna trade? :) I was at the office until about 2am each day this week and all day Saturday and Sunday. Now eating a dinner of plain noodles by myself and running laundry at midnight. My only human interaction all weekend was with the store clerk at the convenience store.

    I _totally agree_ that it's easier when you aren't pulled in multiple directions, but having a one-dimensional life... the firm always wants more than you can give and it's easy to lose perspective without your family reminding you that there's more to life than work.

    Hope you get a few slow days soon so you can recharge. As for other jobs, I feel you. It's definitely the loans that are keeping me on this path.

    1. I can't imagine your schedule- how the heck do you work so much?! That's definitely not sustainable! But at least you are gaining good experience and getting this out of the way before you start your family. Very smart! I thing you have mentioned before on your blog how you are anxious to settle down. It must be frustrating to have to put those plans on hold for work. But from someone who jumped right into the family thing I think you will look back on these years and be grateful for them. I hope you get to have some days off soon!