Whether you have had a baby, are thinking about having a baby, or simply work…
“Do you plan to keep working after the baby is born?”
The first time I was asked this question I was surprised by my short, honest answer—“I don’t know!”
I was raised by an amazing single mother who went to work every day and still raised four independent, determined, strong-willed children. My main example of a “mom” showed me that it was possible to have a career and a family, yet I still wasn’t sure I would continue by legal career after my bundle of joy arrived.
I am grateful to have had a decision to make because for many, like my own mother, the choice is made for them due to other circumstances. But, I have a wonderful, supportive husband, who said the decision was mine to make. Of course we would need to readjust some of our expenses to make it work but staying home was a possibility. So there I was still not sure of my decision.
What I did know was that I loved the practice of law. I felt as if I had just started to really get my feet under me, and I was sad to think that I would not continue practicing. But I was SCARED. My husband, also an attorney, and I would often work long, crazy hours. We even had to hire someone to walk our dogs because our schedule was so unpredictable. I just wasn’t sure I would be the type of mother I wanted to be if I continued to practice.
At about this time, I was approached by my alma mater to work at the law school. I thought this might be the perfect solution – still involved with the law but without the billable hours and stress. So, I did what every clear-thinking, hormonal woman should do (note the sarcasm), I accepted the job. My law firm was shocked to learn of my leaving, and told me “no”. I will forever be grateful to them for not allowing me to shut the door on my legal career.
The decision to be a working mom is incredibly personal. I will never forget February 13, 2008, the day I got to hold my baby for the first time. He looked up at me and all was right with the world. I will also never forget February 16, 2008 – the day I realized that being a parent was HARD and much more demanding than any client I had ever encountered. I felt guilty. How could I think my precious bundle was not one hundred percent full of joy?
Over my maternity leave I realized that I didn’t really have a decision to make. I was going to return to work. I missed it. I missed my practice and the people. But more importantly, I realized I personally am a better mom for returning to work.
The working mom juggle is hard. It comes with an extra side of guilt on certain days, but I know my children are happy and safe. And I know that I am happy too. At the end of the day, the decision for me was simple.
-Rebekah Steely Brooker
President, Texas Young Lawyers Association