A great life coach once asked me what is my “why?” I did not understand the question. He said, “What drives you? What is your passion?” Once I understood the question, my immediate answer was “My kids!” After a little reflection on my answer, I knew I had two passions, being a mother and being a lawyer.
We all have different life purposes. God sent us here for a reason – to accomplish something great for the benefit of all mankind. For some, that purpose may be taking on the difficult task of being a stay-at-home mother. As much as I enjoy being a mother, I also knew I had a purpose to fulfill outside of the home. Being an advocate for those who need a voice, protecting and defending the United States Constitution, as well as the rights of the citizens of the United States and giving back to the community that has given so much to me are my passions outside of the home. When I am full, complete and energized by my “Why,” I have so much more to give to my family and to my partner when I come home. Striking the balance between the two, really does allow me to have the best of both worlds.
Having maintained my individuality has allowed me to conquer my various aspirations while keeping me in touch with the woman I am.
After giving birth for the first time, I remember crying my eyes out that I could not fit into the (what I thought was large) outfit I had brought to the hospital to wear home. I had never felt as unsexy as I did when I came home as a new mother. What happened to the skinny, flirtatious, vibrant young lady I once was? At the time, romantic intimacy was the least of my desires. Instead, I chose to focus on myself and my child(ren); a trend I have continued over the last twenty years, yet so much more.
The more I excelled in my personal endeavors, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more care I took of myself. The more care I took of myself, the more personal growth I made. The more personal growth I made, the more doors began to open in my career and other areas of my life. The happier I became with my life outside the home, the happier I was at home with my children. Ultimately, as I grew in my career and in personal growth as a woman, I grew in a manner and way that I could provide for and support my children, financially and emotionally.
As I grew in my career and as a woman, I realized that embracing my womanhood was much more an asset than a liability, even in a male-dominant career choice. Personally, I enjoy dressing up in a conservative yet sexy manner embracing the duality of being a woman in a man’s world and bringing both feminine and masculine energies to the table. This allows me to challenge and go toe to toe in my realm without losing the soft touch of being a woman. Often times, it works to my advantage because my opponents may erroneously underestimate my abilities by judging this book (me) by its cover.
From time to time, I have the opportunity to speak to students at my law school alma mater and other venues. This is the same message I share to the female students. Nothing makes me more proud at how far women have come in the last 50 years as when I see a beautiful, intelligent woman make an assertive argument with constructive points without appearing rude. It really can be done. That is the woman who wins over the respect of men in her career field.
Several years ago, a female colleague of mine wrote the following email to our association regarding my performance at a hearing she observed:
“I was waiting in court when JL and I talked about our showbiz kids and she said, “I’ve got a hearing this morning.” So I said, “Well, I don’t want to keep you. Good luck.”
I sat down to continue waiting. I looked to my left and sitting near me on the front bench was the officer on trial and he looked as nervous as any defendant. I almost made a joke to him to try and make him feel more at ease, but I couldn’t. So I watched him. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
The judge took the bench and the rhetorical battle began. The state’s case was very brief. It was only one issue. It was clear the officer was still very nervous. I almost felt sorry for him…He said pretty much what the prosecutors wanted him to say and then it was JL’s turn.
She was prepared, confident, stern without being mean, and she gave her officer ample opportunity to correct his misstatements. When he wouldn’t or couldn’t she impeached him with two lines from another hearing transcript. Only then did he do the right thing.
She was never mean, but was very clear he would not get away with it. In closing, she referenced the cases she had previously given the court, she kindly pointed out why the state’s cases were wrong and I sat there praying for the judge while he was in the middle of his monologue. He granted the motion.
JL did a wonderful job and she did it all wearing an awesome red suit with a really cute high-waist black belt. As she left she didn’t smile, she didn’t speak-she just walked her client out the door a free man.”
It is humbling yet satisfactorily validating to hear another working mother describe my performance in court. Her description reminds me of this quote: “As women, we can do it all! We can live our lives any way we configure them. Isn’t that great?”
Reclaiming our “why,” our passion and excelling in whatever that may be, not only allows us to reclaim our womanhood, but it restores our confidence and gives us a renewed spirit in how we model ourselves for our children at home.
My children have had the benefit, sometimes out of pure necessity, to see me in the courtroom in full action. Taking children to work from time to time is an excellent way for the children to understand what it is that “Mommy (and Daddy) is doing when she (or he) is not with us.”
A few years back, I was set for trial on a case where the defendant had been in jail for two months awaiting his day in court. I was hurryingly dropping my son at school when he was begging me to believe him that he was really sick. As I opened the car door to let him out of at the carpool lane, he threw up all over the parking lot. Tears in his eyes as he looked back at me, I said, “Get back in. You’ll just have to go with me.” With a sick child in tow, we got to court on time. The judge, being a mother herself, offered to give me a continuance and reset the trial. Feeling sorry for my client who had been in jail for two months, I decided to power through the situation and go to trial. The judge allowed my son to sleep on her couch. Before he got sleepy, he watched me pick a jury from the crack in the door between the judge’s chambers and the courtroom. What an honor to have my son see my work and what a lasting memory he will have in seeing his mother serving in her profession. My client was found “Not Guilty” and was released to go home that day.
Roman politician and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero once said “What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation? “ Whether we are lawyers or schoolteachers or stay-at-home moms, being a parent, really is the noblest job in the world. That’s the good stuff. When the chaos is swirling, the house is a wreck, the finances are low and our energy is depleted, it’s hard to remember that as women and mothers we really do have the best of both worlds…and more importantly, our children do not want perfect moms, they want happy moms.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” -Unknown