CIMG3707Guest Blogger: Holly Lesan

Holly went to law school on realizing that her M.A. from Columbia in Medieval Literature wasn’t exactly lucrative. She comes at us from somewhere in middle America. Accordingly, she fell hard for High School Musical and is hit and miss with the recycling. 

I am a full-time mom and at various times a part-time lawyer. My husband Rob is a full time lawyer and most certainly a full-time dad. I am not a stay-at-home mom; have you ever met a mom who stays home? I am certainly not a housewife. Am I a homemaker? But doesn’t Rob help make our house a home just as much as I do? I’ve asked around, and so far no one has come up with a proper term for women who give up careers, education, or the dream of both to devote our days to nurturing children while our husbands head to the office to pay for the nurturing our children need.

I first confronted this name problem while filling out an information form at a doctor’s office shortly after leaving my full-time job as a litigator. I paused at the blank for Occupation. Well, I’m still a lawyer, I thought. But I don’t have a paying job (a job ”outside the home” – which excludes all those women who continue their professions from home offices). I shrugged and wrote “stay at home mom,” but it bothered me.

You can have a lengthy, passionate conversation with any mother about “what’s right for us” and how to “balance family and work.” Working mothers (but don’t all mothers work, regardless of whether any of that work takes place in a office?) face different experiences than working fathers (and isn’t fatherhood work?). I’m not saying that fathers couldn’t have the same experience as working mothers. I’m just saying that by and large they don’t.

Here’s a day that made me laugh: A few months after that day at the doctor’s office, I started working 10 hours a week for a small law firm close to home. Shortly after my “return to work,” I had a court hearing on a day when Ellie’s daycare center couldn’t take her. I packed the diaper bag, picked up my black suit coat at the cleaners, and fought the morning traffic downtown. I pulled up outside Rob’s office building and picked him up. We drove the several blocks to the courthouse, where I hopped out and headed up for the hearing. The opposing attorney, whom I’d never met, was just coming back to work after maternity leave. We spent several minutes before the hearing trading thoughts about how much to work and how to find good childcare. Forty-five minutes later, I called Rob (driving around town with a sleeping Ellie) and he came to pick me up. We dropped him back at work, and headed home for diaper changes, naps, and playtime. It was a day of full-time…something.

Since our son was born nine months ago, I’ve been “home full-time.” People ask if I’m working. Some days I think I’ll do some networking and get resumes out. Some days I think I’ll strike up a little solo practice, like Rob encourages me to do. Some days I take the kids to the pool.

Put your right foot in, put your right foot out…Good luck to all women out there striking a balance. Let me know if you come up with a word to define what we’re doing.