Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thank You Anonymous

For helping me realize why I am doing this and why I need to do this.

When you posted your first comment a couple posts ago, my first thoughts were: (1) she obviously has no kids and (2) or she does have kids but she never had to choose between staying home with them and deciding to pursue a career. I guess it was the first.

Part of the reason I need to continue to pursue my career even though I am a mom is the fact that, unlike non-moms and men, working moms still have so much to prove in the workplace. Although it's not fair, it seems like we come to work with a strike against us simply because we choose to work and leave our babies in the capable hands of others. It's hard, both physically and emotionally even without the added pressures of society and co-workers. I happen to work in an environment that is tolerant and understanding so this helps a lot.

It's the people like Anonymous who show us we have to much to prove. It's ridiculous to me that people like Anonymous, who have no idea what it's like to be a parent can judge so harshly. I wonder what Anonymous would do if he/she ever had children. Would YOU give up YOUR career to stay home? I won't delete Anonymous's comments because I feel like, however unfair they may be, they are legitimate in the fact that many people think like this and working moms need to know that people still think like this.

Welcome to the 21st Century where women are just as capable of men as having successful careers. Where the home is not just the "woman's domain." Where men and women can jointly share domestic roles and responsibilities. Where the woman does not have to sacrifice her education, her goals, her drives, and her need to be a productive member of socitety to sit at home all day while her children are in school just so she can be there with a batch of freshly baked cookies when they get home from school.

Don't get me wrong, being a stay at home mom is a tough and demanding job and I admire those who decide to stay home. I'd decide to stay home if I knew it was best for my family. Women who CHOOSE to stay at home have my full admiration and respect. At this point in my life, it just isn't for me and I don't even think it is necessarily best for my family.


Proto Attorney said...

What I hate most is that the criticism always comes from other women. Men, if they think it, at least have the smarts to keep their mouths shut.

I wrote about this before, but when women concentrate the dialogue on criticizing one another's choices, rather than supporting them and making sure women actually *have* a choice, it hurts all women. What Anonymous Hateful Bitch is actually saying is: "Cee shouldn't get to have that job she wants, or any job, because she's a woman and has a child." Not, "Gosh, law firms and other employers should offer more flexibility so that Cee and other parents, regardless of gender, can spend more time with their families, and how do we, within the legal profession and other professions encourage that life balance?"

This is why there's still a glass ceiling, because even women believe there should be one.

LEO said...

I agree with you and Proto Attorney. This is why I generally prefer to work for men rather than for women, especially if the woman has kids. In my (limited) experience, the women with kids who have "made it" have a chip on their shoulders ... if they battled the glass ceiling their whole career, then I should too. Rather than lend support or reassure me that I can do it too, they almost seem determined to make sure I struggle with it just as much as they did. Not that I think I am entitled to having anything made easier just because I work for a woman with kids, but I would assume there would be more understanding or compassion. Quite the opposite.

Butterflyfish said...

"Gosh, law firms and other employers should offer more flexibility so that Cee and other parents, regardless of gender, can spend more time with their families, and how do we, within the legal profession and other professions encourage that life balance?"

Probably a little too long for a tattoo, huh?

CM said...

Anonymous's comments were made with contempt, but s/he (why are we all assuming it's a woman?) did have one point: men SHOULD think about this too. And we SHOULD all, fathers and mothers both, feel guilty if we think we're not spending enough time with our kids, and we should try our best to figure out a solution that works for us.

I know we all want to convince ourselves that we're doing the right thing for ourselves and our families, but there's a limit. If we feel like our families are worse off because we're working, we need to acknowledge that and try to do something about it. I don't mean that every working person (and certainly not every working woman) with kids should feel guilty. I just think that guilt has a function -- it gives us a reason to examine our lives and see whether we could be doing better. And if the answer is no, we're doing the best we can and we're feeling guilty because of external expectations, then we can ditch the guilt. But I think that in our understandable zeal to protect our choice to work and have a life outside of the home, we can go too far in the other direction and lose sight of the fact that we all, men and women, should have balance.

HB said...

I think Anonymous' point was also that it is possible to be an attorney & mother, yet not be away from home 12 hours a day.

Cee said...

I think that if she WERE trying to make that point, which to me doesn't seem clear (it seems like she is saying you can work or be a mom but not both) then there were so many better ways to put it. Her/his comment wasn't helpful nor constructive, the only reason I can see for the comment was to insult or be hurtful.

Kylie said...

I think its sad that a comment by an Anonymous person can have that power to make you question what you are doing.

At present I am a stay at home mum, I've never managed to find a career (I've had good jobs though, but not a career)

My son was born 3 months early, and right now he needs me at home.

I would never ever criticise anyone for the choices that they made.

And if I were to criticise, I would have the balls NOT to remain anonymous!

Soleil said...

I'm a student and have no kids (although I plan to have them someday) but I just wanted to add another perspective.

My mom went to law school when I was 2, graduated when I was 5, and then worked full time as a lawyer from then on.

If people think that children automatically must suffer because their moms are working lawyers, I can tell you that is patently false. I had a great upbringing, a wonderful life, and at almost-26 I'm still very close to my parents. I've had wonderful opportunities and now I'm getting a law degree of my own because my mom was such an inspiration to me. She still is.

People who are insecure with their own lives need to pass judgment on the choices of others. It's a sad reality.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that sexism is alive and well. I post comments with no reference to my gender and people assume these are from, not just a woman, but a bitch. Men are too smart to make comments like that? Unreal. Or should I say “how 1950s?”

“Unlike him, I do not have an incentive to act appropriately and be socially conscious at these things because, well, it's not MY job at stake and I don't know these people.”

Ring a bell?

My post was not offered to be hurtful, but the tone reflects the fact that I don’t know you so I have no incentive to be socially conscious. I assume the blogger allows anonymous comments because they foster honest feedback. Would it matter if I had used a pseudonym, like most of the others that have commented?

The blogger raised the issue of her guilt and I provided my candid opinion. That opinion was based primarily on two factors: the blogger’s professed guilt (i.e., it was specific to her situation, not the general state of women in the workforce); and my inability to understand why so many parents (male and female, just to be clear) do let others raise their kids.

Yes, I know people need to work. But, even in this tough job market, there are sure to be options other than 12 hour days. And, these options exist even for lawyers.

On further review, I not doubt that the 1.5 hours per day will be quality time and you also have the weekends. Oops, Associates working weekends? Guess I didn’t see that coming.

In all sincerity: If you feel you have made the best choice for you and your son, good luck and get over the guilt. And, don’t worry, I’ll stop commenting, so you won’t have Anonymous to kick around any more.

Anonymous said...

OK, I lied: one more chance to kick me around.

“On further review, I not doubt that the 1.5 hours per day will be quality time and you also have the weekends. Oops, Associates working weekends? Guess I didn’t see that coming.”

Should read: On further review, I have no doubt that the 1.5 hours per day will be quality time and you also have the weekends. Oops, Associates working weekends? Guess I didn’t see that coming.

And, as a general rule, it is a bad practice for lawyers to refer to facts that are not in evidence. For example, whether or not I have any idea what it is like to be a parent.

Hedgehog said...

Ugh, I really take issue with the whole 'let others raise your children" thing. As if there is a choice and a single person who raises the child. I think if you could be more honest and say "let another person be a part of raising your child" you would come off less offensively.

Cee I think you are doing a great job and it is obvious your son is happy and loved.

I think CM is right in that it is important to have the guilt in order for you to constantly evaluate what is right and figure out you are doing what is best.

I think there is another element that often gets left out of these conversations though. That is the good you can do in your professional lives. Personally being a working mum for me is not just about me thinking I will be a better mother, more inspirational to my child, better able to support my family etc. I also feel that I have real contributions to be made in to society through public interest lawyering. I would feel really selfish to stay at home when I could be out there contributing to the society I take so much from. That is not to criticize those who work at firms or do whatever, we all have our ways of contributing and I am not at all casting judgment on how we best should contribute. I am just surprised that the substance of what we working mums do in our professional lives doesn't seem to figure in these SOHM/ working mom debates.

Cee said...

First Anonymous, I didn't assume you were a woman, I used "he/she" at first and then used the feminine pronouse occassionally. Anonymous, you are acting like a victim now but you were attacking me for acting like a victim. Notice I haven't deleted your comments? You have a right to your opinions but you should be more kind in how you word them. This is a BLOG not a pleading, not a motion, not a oral argument in court- stop being ridiculous with your talk of evidence and the like. Seriously? quoting my previous post? I dont even know what point you were trying to make. the quote was taken from a previous post which was lighthearted and not serious. Your comment was unhelpful, ignorant and you must have meant it hurtfully- I can see no other reason for it. But if you stopped reading my posts, that would make me very happy since you cannot relate to them and refuse to learn from them and refuse to be understanding about people with different perspectives. Thanks.

Proto Attorney said...

I stand by my statements that Anonymous Hateful Bitch is in fact a woman, although I concede that it is certainly possible for an Anonymous Hateful Bitch to be male, albeit highly unlikely. However, it is overwhelmingly women who openly criticize other women for working outside the home and not spending "enough" time with their children, not men, so it's a bet I'll take. Also, the readership of the Moms in the Legal Profession blogroll is overwhelmingly female. Regardless, Anonymous didn't deny being female, did she?

As far as being anonymous when you make such a comment, it's cowardly because you don't link back to your own profile and risk people knowing something about you, such as reading your own blog or blogs where you contribute. It's much easier to criticize when people can't "find you," and the comments you make can't be linked back and attributed to you, in particular, becoming searchable. And Anonymous is a Hateful Bitch because, regardless of gender, her comments were indicative of such.

I agree with CM that guilt is an indicator that we should evaluate our actions, but there's a difference in what we feel ourselves and what is projected upon us by society. Do we feel guilty only because we think we should? Also, just because we feel guilty about something doesn't mean it is actually in our power to change it. In this economy, Cee is lucky to have a job at all. Even if she decides that 12 hours a day away from her child is too much, she will have a difficult road in making changes to that immediately.

Yes, there are lawyer jobs that don't require working 12 hour days, or 2 hour commutes. But just like the jobs that do require 12 hour days, they just aren't hiring right now. We're all out there trying to make do, doing the best we can, and hoping to effect changes from within. And it'd be nice if we supported one another, instead of criticizing a parent for working "too much." The current situation is obviously not ideal for Cee, but I trust that she will find a way to make it work, or she'll find another way altogether. She doesn't need random internet assholes telling her how guilty she *should* feel.

So bugger off.

Erica said...

Hi Cee,

When I was a 1L my careers counselor told me that I shouldn't have gone to law school if I wanted a family. I spent a lot of time crying and considering taking another path, because a family has always been an important goal for me. Your blog and LL's blog showed me that I can do both; even though I don't personally know either of you, I feel supported every time I see your happy, healthy families. So while there are people out there who feel you made the wrong choice, there are people like me who also take inspiration from your choice and admire all that you handle between work, family, and school.

esq said...

Well, even if Anonymous isn't a woman, it's painfully obvious s/he's a lawyer. SHEESH... "facts not in evidence" and such.

I HATE lawyers. Don't worry, it's self-loathing.