This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Constructive Criticism

Law School Mom wrote a post a few days ago complaining about how there is no real honest dialog throughout the blogosphere, (I assume specifically in the Moms in Law circle) about the difficulties of balancing family life and law/law school. However, if you make a call for honest dialog, don't then disable the comments on the post. Especially if you choose to make a rather biting criticism of a fellow Mom in Law School.

What I wanted to comment (but couldn't, so I'll say it here) is this: I don't believe the only choices are: 1. Stay home and be a good mom; and 2. Go to law school and have other people raise your children. If I did, then I wouldn't be in law school. Personally, I don't equate "child care" with "other people raising my child." And if you do, that's your opinion. You have a right to it, and a right to do what you think is best for your family. What I have a problem with is calling someone else "selfish" because they disagree and make other choices. And here's the part I really have a problem with:

"And that makes blogging this stupid, polite game where everyone minds their manners. Sorry, but that's not real life."

Since when is being polite a bad thing? It is certainly possible to express a dissenting opinion in a respectful, polite manner. Without being harshly judgmental and unfair. We might be students, but we're still professionals. As legal professionals, we spend a great deal of time arguing opposite sides of an issue. There is a certain expectation of respect in such discourse. No, not everyone minds their manners in "real life," as Law School Mom has clearly demonstrated. However, they should.

I certainly encourage open dialog. I think I've been pretty candid about the ups and downs of my law school experience. That's why I started this blog; I wanted to give an honest portrayal of making the decision to be a parent while in law school. But I lose a lot of respect for someone who chooses to express her views in a way that demeans other women who are struggling with the same issues as all of us. I assure you that mothers feel enough guilt about whether they are doing the best by their children (regardless of whether they are stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, moms that work outside the home, or are rich country club moms with nannies) without unfair judgment cast upon them by fellow women.

I chose to go to law school. Then I chose to have a child. I choose to have a career in law that allows me to be fulfilled by my work, but at the same time not control my life. That might take some trial and error, but I know it can be done, because I know women who do it.

I want my daughter to be proud of me and of the things I accomplish. I want her to know that I love her and value my time with her. I want her to know that I am there whenever she needs me, but that she doesn't need me every minute of the day. She has a wonderful support system of people who love her and care for her. Her father, her grandmother, our various family friends who have been there for us and lend a hand when we've needed it. And soon, hopefully, a daycare provider who will be as wonderful as Lag Liv's nanny Mia. Maybe there will be times (and maybe there will be plenty of times) where I feel like a complete failure at my career, parenthood, my marriage, and life in general. But I hope there will also be times when I feel like Wonder Woman. Overall, I just want to look back on my life as an old woman and say, I raised wonderful children, I had a happy and loving marriage, and I had a fulfilling career. And that I had a helluva good time doing it.

It isn't an easy task being a Mom in Law School, and certainly not a Mom in Law. But I wholeheartedly believe that for me and my family, I'm making the right choices. We all do the best we can with the hand we're dealt. I'm lucky that I have a husband who is a co-parent and a partner (rather than a useless burden). I'm lucky that my mom is close by and views babysitting her grandchild two afternoons a week as a privilege, and wishes I would leave the house more. I'm lucky that I have friends who keep nagging me to let them babysit, because they love my child too. I'm lucky that I have been able to arrange our schedules to where we can spend the most time together as a family, and not need outside childcare until this fall when we will put Cora in daycare. We will put her in a carefully selected daycare because we want her to be in a structured and stimulating learning environment with other children, not because we actually need full time child care.

Because not every parent has it as easy as I currently have it. Sometimes it takes three different baby-sitters in one day to make it work. And instead of judging those moms who do the best they can, since they have to go it alone, I simply say, well done. Because I couldn't, and wouldn't, have chosen to do this alone. I'm not strong enough.


Melissa said...


I'm a working attorney mom and I want my son to be proud of what I do and I want to set a good role model for him on how to balance work and life. I certainly don't consider daycare as raising my children...because I still do so much with him when I have him at home with me.

Andrea said...

ha, I was coming to post:

*wild applause*

LL said...

This is almost the exact post I was going to write if I wasn't stuck writing the paper from hell. You summed up so much of what I wanted to say and you did it beautifully.

After reading LSM's a second time I was able to see past my irritation at her badmouthing another mom and instead feel a deep appreciation for this "polite blogging world" that she finds so disappointing.

It is her negative opinion of another mother and her desire more judgment that reminds me of how wonderful, and how unique, this virtual community of law school moms is. I don't know any other law students with young children and I have gained so much by reading your stories and getting your comments and support as I tell my own. I'm not afraid to admit that sometimes I don't do a great job of balancing my family and my school work because I know you understand; I don't feel a need to remind everyone that I love my son in every post because I know that you know that. This community has been a wonderful thing for me precisely because we reserve judgment and, even better, defend one another when necessary. There are so many people practically hurling judgment at working mothers, isn't it great to have a place where that doesn't happen?

Tranny Head said...

I sent her an email, myself, but alas my Yahoo email account died so I don't know if she ever tried to write back or not. Probably not - she strikes me as spineless.

And I'm sure she's the reason people hate attorneys.

Hunters said...

Great post.
I hope to be a law school mum in the not too distant future and am in great admiration of all you law school mom bloggers do, its a great community to lurk in and gives such encouragement and advice.
Coming from the UK its been quite a shock to me here in the States to find so many women who feel child care is letting other people 'raise your children', its reassuring to find plenty of women out there who feel that doing both will keep both them and their families as happy as can be. I strongly agree that child care is a Benefit for the child, not a detriment. My youngest sister is now embarking on her second childcare degree, she specializes in 0-2 year olds, and her expert knowledge combined with the presence and stimulus of other children surely makes for a environmental highly beneficial to any child.

Dee said...

Wow what a well thought out and heartfelt post. I found you over at tranny head.

It is difficult enough dealing with the ignorant stereotypes held by people who have no understand what moms in law go through.

So many people bad mouth child care and yet it has played such a role in my own life (my mom was single) and my son's (my husband and I are lawyers) and he has turned out to be a pretty great kid (knock on wood). Like most things one has to be very choosy and responsible when taking certain decisions.

I hope the poster will be candid and comment on your post.

Really hope you send a post to my moms in the law carnival next time around.

Googie Baba said...

I sent her an email too. I don't see there being any moral courage in criticizing other people. I think there is moral courage in being honest about ourselves.

It reminds of how I feel in the non virtual world when someone says, "Well, I just have to be honest..." and then they go onto say something bitchy. I always feel like saying, "No. You don't have to be honest. You can be kind."