A Belated Mother’s Day Message to ALL Young Women Lawyers

I fell a little behind on Mother’s Day this year—but for good reasons.  I spent the time surrounding Mother’s Day, first, with my very senior mother—I am forbidden to tell you how senior but think in batches of 100!—and, second, with my daughter selecting the bridesmaids dresses for her October wedding that is fast approaching AND celebrating yet another bar passing. Yes, two behind her, and now she can relax and enjoy the very fast approaching wedding—I think I said that, but, somehow, I cannot get the very very fast approaching wedding out of my mind these days!

So, even though I missed reaching out to you closer to Mother’s Day, I think you would agree that I celebrated the “big day’ in style.  Spending time with my mother and with my daughter are gifts at this time in my life especially, and I will take any and all opportunities.

If I had been more timely, I also would have celebrated all you lawyer/mothers out there and given you high fives for a job well done.  Those of you who are trying to balance careers and families know that high fives do not begin to acknowledge all that you do.  But, it is a good place to start.  I admire your courage and your grit and your ability to stick in there when the going gets tough.  So, now, these many days later, go home, pour yourself a beverage of choice, and toast all that is so special and amazing about you.

AND if I had been more timely, I also would have given those of you young women without children an itty bitty lesson on planning.  You probably think that I have told you all I know about planning your careers, but here is a twist.  Not planning too fast can sometimes be the right strategy.

For instance, I hear from some young women that they think they do not want to have children, and they sometimes tell it to me as if asking for my approval, as in, “Do you think that is alright?”  I always respond that being alright with me is not what matters and that I do not make value judgments about such personal things.  However, I also ask these young women to tell me why they think they will make that choice.

Some of the answers are more thoughtful than others, but the one that always gets my attention straight on is, “Because I do not like little children.”  At this response and depending on the person who says it, I can be heard to laugh and laugh and laugh some more.  Then I regain my composure and explain something that too many young women just do not seem to understand.

Liking small children is not a very good reason not to have children of your own.  Honestly, many women with children—-and many men for that matter— do not like other people’s children.  They find them misbehaved, far too labor intensive and down right annoying.  They have nothing invested in other people’s children, and they see very little of positive value about them.

However, once you have children of your own, everything changes.  Your children are angelic, precocious and even genius-level mentality, worthy of Gerber Baby beauty competition recognition…….and the list goes on and on and on.  In other words, they are your children and that makes them special to the nines and worthy of all your adoration and attention.  You never get tired of seeing them smile, and you can’t wait for them to wake in the morning and get started on their special brand of cuteness…..at least until they are teenagers and, fortunately, they don’t wake until noon then!   You take pleasure in each and every one of their accomplishments and you have to nearly muzzle yourself not to share the details with all the world.  That is what being a parent is all about, but it is hard to see that when you are in your twenties and have only bad memories of the monster children you babysat for as teenagers.

This is not a commercial for having children.  Far from it.  Some will and some won’t, and that is just fine.  I simply want to caution you not to make a big decision like that based on such flimsy and faulty reasoning.  Let time pass on that decision until you and your mate have done some better research and have more experience watching your contemporaries become parents.

And, in the meantime, do not make decisions about your career that will piggyback on that same flimsy and faulty reasoning.  Deciding on a career path to the exclusion of all others before you have all the facts can prove disastrous.  Take time to see how your life unfolds.  Keep your options open and do not close any career doors until the time is right.

Now, that is what mother would have told you!

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