"You are coming back to the firm after your maternity leave, aren't you?" my secretary asked me as I was leaving for the day yesterday evening.
No one had actually asked me that yet, but I knew that others were probably wondering the same thing.
I smiled and assured her that, yes, I'd definitely be returning to the office when my twelve weeks are up. She seemed happy to hear that, which made me smile.
And before I get lambasted with judgment, let me just say... the reasons for my steadfast determination to muster up the strength to continue working after I become a mommy are many. First of all, although Micah has a great and steady job, we definitely couldn't afford our house and car payments without my salary. I also have law school loans that stress the heck out of me (even though I know they're fairly insignificant compared to many others'), and we're aggressively trying to get them paid off in the next two-and-a-half years. So even if I wanted to stay home, we'd be looking at selling our house, moving, getting different cars, and drastically changing the way we live life in order to accommodate that desire.
But more importantly, and beyond the financial aspects, I truly do love my job. I know I'm going to love Grace more (I already do) and that my ambition and drive to succeed at work will shift significantly once she's here. But I don't think my fundamental desire to delve into a case and advocate on behalf of a client is going to magically disappear after I have a baby. I just happen to really like being a lawyer.
I also worked really hard in school for seven years to earn that J.D. -- with four years devoted to mastering biochemistry and three years reading thousands of pages in an attempt to learn to "think like a lawyer." And I'm proud of what He has done in me through that learning. The idea of leaving it all behind is honestly unthinkable to me.
Lastly, I grew up with a working mom, and I always planned on being a working mom, too, because that's what was normal to me. I'll honestly admit that it was hard sometimes for my brother and me when she couldn't make it to every single event at the school and simply didn't have the time to be the president of the PTA. But she didn't miss much, and she bent over backward trying to juggle it all. And mostly? She did an amazing job. I never felt any less loved, and I was inspired to reach for my dreams because I saw that it really was possible to be a fantastic mom and wife while also accomplishing achievements in my own right. Her strength always always encouraged me to be confident in my ability to do big things on my own. I want that for Grace.
I can already imagine how incredibly difficult it's going to be to have to leave Grace in the care of others when the time comes. And I know, without any doubt, that I'm going to be green with envy of you incredible stay-at-home mommies.
Not because it's easier. In fact, I firmly believe that it's harder for stay-at-home mommies than it is for working moms because you phenomenal women carry the load of growing up your children all by yourself -- day in and day out -- without being able to pass the load on to others to carry and without the tangible reward of a fantastic bonus or a great year-end-review to remind you of what a great job you're doing. Seriously... this mommy-to-be applauds you all and can assure you that I will never feel anything except admiration for your decision to stay at home with your loves. (And I suppose I hope for the same courtesy from you about my decision to continue to work. I really, really believe that we're all in this together and that, as a group, we could stand to be a whole lot less judgmental of one another.)
No, my envy will stem from the fact that I'm going to miss out on things in order to try and balance it all. I know that going in. I know that there will be many tears and much exhaustion and a whole lot of guilt. There will be days when I'm tempted to quit, and heck... I may very well change my mind three years down the road.
But I know one thing.
I'll be counting on Him (and you guys!) to lift me up on the rough days. I'm going to do my very best for Grace (and any other siblings that pop up down the road) and let Him do the rest.
Because that's all any of us can really do, isn't it?
So here's to what I know will be the most incredible, rewarding, frustrating, wonderful, exhausting, and trying journey of my life. Let's all just hope that I don't screw her up too badly... ;)