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!