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When I Grow Up

When I was in second grade at Farrar Elementary School in the small town of Tullahoma, TN, I was asked to dress up for career day. For most children that age, visualizing “what I want to be when I grow up,” is a daunting task. Heck, it was a daunting task for some of my friends to come up with an answer to that question when they were in college. I suppose I was lucky. For me, my answer was always the same. I was going to be a lawyer when I grew up. Plain and simple.

So that is what I did. I yearned to be a career woman the way that other women desired to be a mother. I rushed through undergraduate in 3.5 years so that I could move on to law school. I eventually settled into a career as a Commercial Litigator at a prestigious law firm in the Pan Handle of Florida, practicing in state and federal courts in both Florida and Alabama. My life consisted of court rooms, depositions, traveling, networking at cocktail events, board meetings for charity work and memberships in professional organizations. I was well on my way to making Partner at the firm in my early thirties when I met my soon-to-be husband. It was then that life threw me a few curveballs.

I had secretly vowed to never marry a military man, for the simple reason that I loved my job, and my town, and had no desire to move every 4 years. But at 32 I found myself marrying my now-husband, Darek, who was at the time a Major in the Air Force with orders to move to the Pentagon. Darek moved to Northern Virginia one day after we returned from our honeymoon. I stayed in Florida for 6 months trying to tie up matters at the law firm. When I went to the management board at the firm, in tears, to explain that I would be moving to the D.C. area in January of 2016, instead of accepting a partnership with them, it was bitter-sweet for all involved. Everyone was excited for Darek’s career opportunities but lamented my departure. The firm wanted to keep me on the letter head, for which I was so grateful, so I traveled back and forth between Florida and Northern Virginia for several months trying to be a good wife, while still holding on to my personal career goals. I worked remotely while in Northern Virginia and traveled monthly to Florida for court appearances and client meetings. It was the best of both worlds, and then I got pregnant with Ruby Laine.

Wanting to be a successful career woman did not mean I did not also want to be a mother. I did. The two are not mutually exclusive, as most moms know. However, wanting to over-achieve at both presented (and still does) numerous challenges . . . daily. After Ruby Laine was born, my life as a successful career woman/bad-ass lawyer changed indefinitely. To be honest, I was a bit sad, probably depressed about it. There was a true mourning period where I had to let go and say goodbye to this image I kept in my head of what my future as a successful lawyer/litigator looked like. With that said, my new life as a mom presented fulfillment I did not know that I needed. I sometimes dream of what it would be like to now be a Partner in my firm, running things, spending my days in court, winning big cases, and spending my evenings networking at cocktail events. I would be lying if I said that the mystery of “how it would be now” does not still intrigue me. But as soon as my mind wonders to the “what-if” of it all, I am reminded of my place when my precious, sweet, joyous Ruby Laine runs toward me with her arms wide open, huge smile on her face, whispering in her angelic voice, “I love you, Mommy.”

Currently, I still “play the game,” if you will, meaning I am a stay-at-home mom, while also working part-time, remotely, for my firm in Florida. I scurry to bill 4-5 hours a day, usually squeezing in my work hours during nap time and late at night after Ruby Laine goes to bed. I travel back to Florida for work related reasons about three times per year; however, now, I travel with Ruby Laine, who has become a familiar face around the office in Pensacola. It is hard. I am tired, and most days feel like I am less-than-adequate at one of the two jobs, and sometimes inadequate at both. I know a few moms out there can relate. With that said, for me, the attempt is worth it. I am blessed to be able to spend every day with my daughter, while holding on to the career world, albeit barely. Whether you are a full-time stay-at-home mom, a full-time career woman, or someone who splits your time doing both, hats off to you! I do not think that in second grade, any of us moms imagined what it would truly be like to be a mom, in whatever capacity that may currently be. One thing remains true - the thing that binds us moms is this completely pure love that we each have for these little human beings that we created.

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