Thursday, April 7, 2011


Be careful what you wish for.

I think when anyone starts a blog, a goal is to gain an audience, and I am no exception.  When I published my inaugural blog post last Friday, I immediately starting checking the "stats," to see if anyone out there would read it.  I referenced it on a few mom discussion forums, and slowly but surely, it started to get some hits.  For the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of accomplishment.  I wrote out my story.  A handful of people were reading it, and even liking it.  I may not be a working lawyer, but maybe I could call myself a blogger.

By Monday, I was still getting some views, and this helped to add some excitement to an otherwise typical day.  You know, the 7am wakeup call by both kids (how is it they both always wake up at the same time?).  Braden goes off to school, I hang with Casey in the morning, pick Braden up at school, and wait patiently while Braden sits on the pavement in the parking lot and refuses to move.  Lunch, nap (or lack thereof), play, make dinner.  It was during this latter step that I decided to check the stats on the blog once again.  I had to do a double take when the hits were in the thousands.  I checked the "hit sources," and there it was - the blog had been picked up by Above the Law.

For those readers who are non-lawyers and haven't heard of it, Above the Law is a cross between a legal news sight and gossip column.  Being a "biglaw" associate myself, I used to go to this website incessantly to read the latest news on associate bonuses, layoffs, and other meaningless banter that can entertain a person while sitting at a desk for 10+ hours.  And since most lawyers at law firms are doing just that and more, it has a massive audience amongst the legal community.

Exposed.  That was the first word that came to mind.  It was one thing for other moms to be reading my blog.  But the entire law firm community?  That was unexpected.  I had to pause to take it all in. This was what I wanted, right?  A massive audience?  In my head I immediately started scanning the former office layouts of both Skadden and Dickstein.  I thought of all the partners and associates that could be reading.  They would know it was me.  What would they think?  Would they feel betrayed?  Did they catch a typo?

The thing is, law firms aren't about feelings and flowers and creativity.  You do the job, you follow precedent, you don't go against the grain.   Bill what you can, and don't complain about it.  There's just not a lot of touchy feely stuff involved.  When I left both firms, I didn't sit somberly in a partner's office, with tears rolling down my face, divulging my innermost ambitions and regret.  No, you are professional and polite.  And while my first posting was honest and heartfelt, it certainly was not something I would have written in a resignation letter or farewell email.

I stared at the computer screen while Braden tugged at my arm begging for his dinner.  Deep breaths.  This is what I wanted.

I went through the motions finishing up dinner, and felt an unexpected rush of sadness.  I felt so distant from my fellow attorney readers.  I had been on leave from Dickstein for so long (between my leave of absence and subsequent maternity leave), that even though I had effectively resigned, I still felt like I was on some kind of sabbatical, still affiliated the firm.  That this was just another break, and I would return to my same office someday.  Had this blog been written by someone else, I would have forwarded it to my friends at work and hashed over it with them.  But not anymore.  I had announced to the world that I am done.  I am out.  You are big firm lawyer.  I am stay at home mom.  Them and me.  The finality of it all settled in.

And so that night I grieved a little.  I do miss it.  The people more than anything.  I miss going for coffee breaks, stopping in people's offices, banter in the hallway.  I miss getting dressed in normal clothing on a daily basis (my husband jokes that when we do laundry 90% of it is my pajamas).  I even (weirdly) miss the satisfaction of finishing a brief or finding that needle in a haystack case.  These are things you start to appreciate when you have nowhere you have to be anymore, no real use for your higher education, and your conversations are predominantly about cars, cookies, and Yo Gabba Gabba.  That being said, PJs are comfy.  I have this blog to keep my mind sharp.  Yo Gabba Gabba is the best show ever.  And my 2 year old is the greatest conversationalist I know.

The somberness I felt that night gave way to optimism as my husband and I read some of the comments on the blog the next morning.  Most were so supportive and inspiring, and I am so humbled.  Others, not so much. Being a type A personality, I don't take criticism very well.  I was definitely that girl at work that would maintain a straight face when I received a critique or even the slightest reprimand from a partner, and then go to my office and cry like a baby.  I guess this is something I need to get over, since I am now doing a blog and all, and people love to bash people, especially anonymously (DC Urban Moms, anyone?).   A couple of them I deleted because I was embarrassed - criticizing either my writing style, or calling me self absorbed, entitled, etc.  I don't know why I deleted them if I am now divulging them, but at the time, I just couldn't stand to look at them.  They hit too close to my own insecurities I suppose. But my favorite critique actually appeared on the Above The Law Comment Board, so I thought I would share:
       "If I were this chick's husband I would not be too happy. It's pretty clear she thinks getting married ruined her life plans of travel and living abroad. Instead she is now a stay at home mom living in a suburban cemetery. I hope this dude has something lined up on the side cause this chick is headed for drinking, cheating and/or serious weight gain."

As for the drinking, um yeah.  I'm a stay at home mom now and will need a glass of wine or two after a long day.  But I have limited myself to one weeknight only.  Cheating?  Definitely not.  My husband rocks and I'm in it for the long haul.  Besides, he's paying back my loans (kidding, honey).  Serious weight gain?  I hope not.  I do still have 8 pounds of baby weight to lose, and am hoping the muffin top will magically go away before swimsuit season.  Travel abroad?  Yeah, I miss it.  Terribly in fact.  But we all have passports, and I wouldn't trade my husband or two boys for anything in the world.  I'm a pretty lucky girl, thank you very much!


  1. I have really enjoyed reading both of your posts. After reading countless stories on ATL and the like, there is something so refreshing about your honesty and vulnerability. It's truly fascinating to get a glimpse into what you are thinking and feeling, and even as a male 2L, I feel like I can connect on a human level with some of the emotions that you are experiencing. Like you said, it's not often (at least in the legal/professional world) that people really let their guards down and share about "life" rather than just talking about work. I'm happy for you, and I know your boys will appreciate your commitment to them (and your family generally).

  2. As a fellow blogger (and current biglaw mom)...go easy on reading the comments (especially on ATL). Be kind to yourself. Your blog (so far) is a great read and I really look forward to following it as it develops. Just know that you don't have to justify your choices to some anonymous a-hole who needs a hobby.

  3. I came over from Jane Has a Job. You are my friends, let me explain, you are all the women I graduated from law school with (or my husband graduated from MBA school) that have decided to stay at home. It's not my choice, but it is a valid choice. I'm excited to read about your adventures.

  4. Congrats on taking this step and doing what is right for you and your family. Maybe in a post you can address whether your friends, peers/senior associates have been supportive and if you had to address their reactions. As I've become more senior, it has shocked me how much commentary people have on others' life decisions on both ends -- i.e. if you want to leave to raise your family, the act like you lack ambition but if you want to stay and see if you can push your career to the next level, they make comments about giving up your life for something that is a long shot. PS - we're law school classmates.

  5. Above the law.. let the anonymous posters stew in their own juices. The comment section makes me hate humanity, seriously. However, you rock. Knowing when enough is enough, and ACTING! on it beats the hell out of grinding out your life in ten minute increments for "lots" of money.

  6. A lot of the regular posters on ATL are law students or people with no work/lives. Sometimes the witty posters come out in full force, but especially for gender-based stories (and by that I mean women-based), the worst will come out. Don't worry about them. I know it's hard, given that they make personal attacks. Just keep doing what you do. Some of us still working in biglaw are interested and want to hear more. :)

  7. Enjoying your blog, Shannon. I have three young kids and am a partner at a big law firm. In the eight years since having my first child, I have decided to quit more times than I can count. (But then I don't.) Although I'm still practicing after all these years, the conflicts and emotions you describe from your own circumstance hit home for me, and I wholeheartedly respect the decision you've made.

    For other moms dealing with this same career tug and pull, I thought you might enjoy this post over at The Well Mom about TORN: True Stories of Kids, Careers and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, a book coming out around Mother's Day.

  8. I rarely comment on blogs; but, I clicked through to yours via ATL and want to let you know I've already bookmarked it! As a female 2L at a top-school where panels of "women-who-all-had-three- children-and-still-made-partner-because-sleeping-is-for-other-people" are assembled constantly it is both refreshing and exciting to hear from a woman who made the opposite, equally valid, choice. Since I'm not a mother I have no idea if you'll look back on this time with fondness; but, I can promise that as the child of a stay at home mom who did endlessss loads of laundry (even hanging it out on a line to dry most days haha) that your kids will eventually look back on the seemingly ordinary moments you spend with them inbetween the wash and dry cycles as some of the best ever.

  9. I too enjoy your posts. As someone about to embark on a big law career with the full expectation that I will be leaving it in a few short years to raise a family, it is nice to hear your perspective. Even now, I struggle with that fact that I will need to leave it all when I have children. But it is a mixed bag, because I am also excited to do so. I just hope that I can find a career (at least somewhat law-related) that will still allow me to be a mom. Whether I can is yet to be seen, but that's my hope anyway. Maybe it's foolish to think I'll be lucky enough to balance both a career and a family, but I have to try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Oh, I so feel you here. I took the bar in July and had my (first) precious baby boy in August. I am clerking for the moment, for a boss I love, and have been able to do daycare, but even with the very normal hours I work and the amazing, supportive environment, I still miss being at home with my little guy. And I'm supposed to go to biglaw in a year and a half or so - at which point I'd really much prefer to be having a second baby. But the thought of trying to work the hours I see many of my friends working is rather unfathomable - I don't see myself doing it, now that I know what it is to be a mom - I would never forgive myself if I had missed these precious months of my little one's life. Still working on finding an alternative to biglaw, though - unfortunately, at the moment I'm the primary breadwinner - I do envy your position! I love the posts you've written so far - I feel like I can definitely relate. Keep it up and remember how much value you are adding to the world raising strong, healthy, lovely little boys. And think how happy they will be when they have a happy mom. :)

  11. Is it wrong of me to want to punch that bitch? The one with the nasty comment. My gosh!

  12. I wanted to be more specific....hard, and in the face :-)


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