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Any city lawyers trying to have it all?!

(110 Posts)
CoffeeAndCarrotCake Thu 04-Sep-08 20:49:46

Is it even possible? I've been back for a month, and the first couple of weeks were fine as it was all a bit of a novelty. Now though, I just miss DD so much and am hating the fact that she's going to be so much closer to my DH, MIL, nursery carers, au pair...(bloke in the corner shop, chap who delivers the curry, window cleaner....) than she will be to me. She might forget me altogether!!

Have any of you been back for a little longer and found it's not so bad, or planning to pack it in altogether?!

lingle Thu 04-Sep-08 20:54:29

I went back full time. Lasted 12 months.

The only good thing was that every time I looked at the photo of DS on the opposite wall, I felt those butterflies in your tummy that you get when you are first in love.....

Judy1234 Thu 04-Sep-08 21:03:24

I have always worked full time and daughters and 2 (age 21/23 are law students) and they are great. They have hugely benefited from my working full time. I wouldn't have it any other way. They are no less bonded with me than with anyone else who has been a part of their lives over the last 20 years but the benefits they have had from my work have been massive in all kinds of areas. May be it helped that I was breastfeeding and expressing so felt quite close and bonded to them (and they didn't sleep much so we had lots of time at night suckling etc. I don't know. Or perhaps I'm just a person who is happy with the decisions taken and just gets on with it.

If you've just been back a month give it a bit longer. I know most parents, and that includes men, miss their children when they return after any maternity or paternity leave break but you adjust and patterns devvelop and it's absolutely fine. I know tons of women in the city who work and have large families like I do (and men of course, let's not be sexist about it). The key is to ensure you didn't marry a sexist man in mmy view and to be happy with your decisions.

If you want the 1000 reasons why children benefit from mothers working full time in good careers I can start the spiel.....

A child will never forget its parents. Our first nanny who didn't live in stayed 10 years but there was never any question that the children were bonded with their parents but nor was I jealous of any relationships they had with others. I always say to my five children that I don't share love out and ration it. It's the same the other way about. A baby is very lucky if it has more than one person to love.

Before you know it it will be at nursery school anyway and then school at 4 and have all sorts of people in his or her life but the main figures will be its parents, of both sexes.

poppy34 Thu 04-Sep-08 21:08:27

xenia that is such a lovely/sensible way to look at children -re rationing love. Way I look at it is that I want to be a role model for my daughter and part of that is showing that woman can earn own living and have a fulfilling career .

am not back yet but would echo what xenia says -my dh finding it very hard being back/doing long hours (dd 10 weeks) so don't think its necessarily just a female thing.

is there anyway you can flex your time - ie leave a bit earlier and make it up later.. I'm not a lawyer but similar profession adn that is the way that most of women with babies have dealt with it.

Judy1234 Thu 04-Sep-08 21:16:23

The difficulty for new mothers is that it is genuinely harder to be parted from the child, definitely. I remember even now nearly 24 years on leaving her but you do just get used to it just as you might get used to the child sleeping in another bed room or being with your mother for 2 hours. Or you can adopt my sister's continnum concept approach at the other extreme and sleep flesh on flesh and not let them away from contact with your body for years. Her boys left her bed when they were 5. We all reach our own decisions and what for some women is tantamount to child abuse because you don't so sleep even though you're a born again housewife is normal practice for others.

Some women do have an over inflated view of their own importance. Yes we may be good mothers and I don't think I've done too bad with mine but other people can also change nappies, care, love. When I was 22 I employed my first full time nanny. The main reason it worked was I was prepared to accept she'd do some things different from how I did and that they may be worse or may be better but that I'm not God as regards y children and others can be as good and it's not taking away from me as a mother than a father or nanny or relative can calm a child better than I can at times.

What small children most need is certainty and regularity. I certainly remember our twins (who are 9 now) most of all liking to know what would happen when. They didn't mind who it was of the few people who cared for them as long as at 6m on Friday it was the same as 6pm on the other Friday, the little routines and things give them such comfort and security.

What we really want is to be a in position where the prhase having it all appears ludicrous as most women work and have families as do most men (and this is true - it's not having it all, it's having a normal life which most adults manage in 2008 in the UK). It's the minimum expectation we should have rather than some kind of unattainable nirvana. however life is hard whether you're a stepford wife in your pinny entirely dependent on a man or you work full time in the City. Life never has been and never will be easy for anyone, a veritable veil of tears at times but you just have to get on with it.

fridayschild Mon 08-Sep-08 22:08:37

Are you busy at work? I have been back at work for 5 years now, apart from the maternity leave for DS2. I miss the boys more after holidays, and when there is not enough work to do. But when I'm busy I'm afraid sometimes I don't even think about them all day.

Can you get home for bath time at least sometimes? This makes a surprising difference, even if you do then start work again at 8pm.

The other question for you is whether you really like being a lawyer. If you don't, it will be awful. I actually do like conveyancing, and landlord and tenant.

Fingers crossed for you!

LittleDorrit Tue 09-Sep-08 14:15:28

I went back when DD was 7 months (she is now 2.5).
I need the intellectual stimulation of working as a lawyer, and a sense that I am something other than just a "mum". To be honest, I don't miss her when I am at work, because I know where she is and what she is doing, and that I will see her at the end of the day. I think the fact that I work makes me a better mother, because when I am at home with DD, I really enjoy it. If
I should mention that I work four days a week, which for me is the perfect balance.

Verso Tue 09-Sep-08 20:32:02

I'm not a city lawyer but I do have a reasonably high-flying career (and much more so than my DH) and I heartily say "hear hear!" to Xenia's sentiments. Well said. It drives me to distraction the amount of subtle (and not-so-subtle) discrimination that goes on in the media around this issue and the "having it all" phrase can be part of that.

I LOVE working full-time. I worked part-time for three months when I first went back but for me it's been much easier being full-time than part-time ever was. For one thing I'm not trapped in that feeling of constantly having to justify myself or work 'extra' to full-time colleagues. I work the hours I work and that is that.

I am seven months pg with number 2 and will definitely return full-time - but you can't imagine the number of people (including close friends) who are horrified by the notion.

Yes, I think it's difficult biologically and emotionally for a mother to leave a baby - particularly if you're starting the weaning process from breastfeeding, but you both adapt.

anniemac Wed 10-Sep-08 21:12:56

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AwakeStill Wed 10-Sep-08 21:42:49

I'm a transactional lawyer in the City and went back 6 months ago. It was much much better than I thought it would be. I hated the thought of it before I went and would have done anything not to have had to go back. I think a massive thing is being happy with your childcare - we had a bit of a disaster settling in to a not really very nice nursery and then MIL and DH took over, before we found a lovely childminder and now moving back to a much much nicer nursery now. I found expressing at work a bit of a challenge, but you deal with things as they come up and get on with it all. I do sometimes think that DH having been here all summer is the closer parent - but tbh I like that they're so close and had the chance to spend so much time together. Likewise MIL. Hope that helps.

kaz33 Wed 10-Sep-08 22:01:58

I left full time city lawyer job when my boys were 3 and 1 - now they are 7 and 5 I have no regrets- though obviously less moneygrin

For me having been a latchkey kid I wanted to give what my kids what I didn't have. I do agree with Xenia to a certain extent - continuity of high quality care is utmost and one of the reasons that i left was that didn't work out but mostly being a city lawyer is a pants job grin

It is everyone choice and it isnt the end of the world if you work full time but I do believe that you are miss a huge amount if you ain't there more than you are not. They are small for such a short time and you will work for such a long time.

I think it is more difficult for high powered woman who are used to a large amount of control and intellectual rigour to make the changes needed to become mum - from being in control to not being in control.

Not looking for a row just a bit of a one sided viewpoint so far.

anniemac Wed 10-Sep-08 22:05:52

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Dalex Wed 10-Sep-08 22:10:10

I work full time and have done since both my children were 7 moths old. They have benefited enormously from attaching to many people in addition to myself. If you want reassurance read 'Boost your energy' by Jenny Mosley or anu Child Psychology Book.

blueshoes Wed 10-Sep-08 22:12:30

Coffee, no way your dd will forget you. Many fathers work long hours but still have great and special relationships with their dcs and will always always have that unique place in their dcs' hearts that only a father can occupy. So much more when you are the mother ...

My dcs see their carers at nursery and various aupairs as playmates and someone they can call on. But they have never grieved when those carers or aupairs move on. Did not skip a single beat. Ds 2 on the other hand won't let me out of his sight. When I am around, my dd often will only have me to the exclusion of the aupair. Trust me, your dd will know who you are.

Agree with Awakestill about needing to be happy with the childcare. Xenia makes a lot of points which strike a chord with me - you are adding to the richness of your dd's life by surrounding her with people who love and care for her and putting in place an infrastructure that gives order and routine to her life.

In my case, and it is not for everybody, I continued to breastfeed after I returned to work and co-slept with the baby. Flesh-to-flesh pretty much sums up my nighttime arrangement with ds - to me, that imprints me in ds' psyche like no other and extends my time with him for 7 hours in an intimate way that is unique to us.

MakemineaGandT Wed 10-Sep-08 22:16:11

I was a City lawyer. I am now a SAHM. Many reasons really, and I am happy on the whole. The children certainly are, and it means that DH can concentrate on his career knowing that everything is taken care of at home <vision of Xenia spitting coffee all over keyboard and knashing teeth! grin >

With DH working in a very demanding job we couldn't both carry on as we were. It seemed the most sensible solution for me to give up for the time being. I'm sure this is the case with a lot of SAHMs - it's not that they have a burning desire to be a SAHM, it's just that it's the most practical solution at that moment in time (so keep your hair on Xenia and cronies....!!)

I would like to go back to work at some point but it will always have to be something flexible that fits in around the children.

Good luck whatever you do!

ProfessorGrammaticus Wed 10-Sep-08 22:19:30

Not a city lawyer, but a lawyer. I'm on the point of giving up now!

DSs are 9 and 7 and I just can't see how I'll manage the homework and after school activites over the next couple of years (years 5 and 6 for Ds1) and definitely not how I'll manage when he starts (fee paying) secondary school with the long holidays.

I have worked 3 days a week since my first mat leave and used after school and breakfast clubs. I have been happy with my choice. But now I'm at a loss.

anniemac Wed 10-Sep-08 23:03:43

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AwakeStill Thu 11-Sep-08 23:33:48

Yes annie that's a really good point that its your own sleep that suffers. And in my experience your own weekend - in my case I'm so conscious of having been away all week that I'm really keen to spend all of the weekend with DS (and DH who has been in charge all week gets to do his own thing). This means that I have no time to do my own thing on my own, as I am either at work, or its the weekend and I or me and DH are with DS. But I wouldn't give up the time with DS to do this - this is my own choice. HTH

anniemac Fri 12-Sep-08 11:06:57

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2HotCrossBunnies Sat 13-Sep-08 15:06:47

Just stumbled across this thread which has made helpful reading. I am a transactional lawyer and been back at work for the 2nd time for 5 months now. I agree with lots of what has been said. I work 3 days a week and to be honest I'm having a nightmare - heavy workload which would keep me busy 5 days a week crammed into 3 with my blackberry buzzing like mad on my days off. My boys are 3.3years and 17months and it's impossible to respond to anything much whilst I'm at home. I don't feel that guilty about leaving the DCs as my nanny is wonderful and I am not really happy being a SAHM 100% of the time (respect to anyone who manages it!!). It's work itself that is the problem - I'm quite senior in terms of pqe but having been on 2 lots of mat leave the new-ish juniors don't know me or take me seriously. Hence I'm having to do too much of my work load myself rather than delegate and supervise. Quite honestly I think full time would be easier but I'm not prepared to do that whilst the boys are so young. I'm hanging in there at the moment but desperately trying to think of something else I could do!!!
Sorry this is probably not the most helpful/positive thread about being a city lawyer - I think it's a tough job at the best of times and not that family friendly!!

katface Sat 13-Sep-08 20:09:02

Sorry to come in as a non-lawyer, but 5 years ago I worked in the City in the banking sector. I didn't have a senior position as I had re-trained, gone to university for 7 years, etc, so didn't reach the City until I was 30. I gave up when I was 34 and pregnant.

The ONLY thing I miss about the City is the money.

I am self-emloyed now (business studies tutor) and very happy. I stayed at home so that I could be my son's main carer.

I have ideas for setting up my own business.

He has just started reception at primary school. He didn't go to a nursery or have any form of day care until he was 3.5. He was always with me.

We also moved out of London in 2007 to a more rural area, about 1.5 hours away from London. I finally decided to leave London when I had to get on the tube heavily pregnant. It was a horrible experience.

I think the City/mummy combination works for some families. For me it involved too many compromises.

katface Sun 14-Sep-08 08:45:27

Verso said "It drives me to distraction the amount of subtle (and not-so-subtle) discrimination that goes on in the media around this issue and the "having it all" phrase can be part of that."

Yes, I am particularly annoyed about the idea that you can't be a ROLE MODEL to girls if you stay at home (for a few years or for ever).

There is also an enormous amount of discrimination against stay at home mums in the media and society in general.

It is not just City women who make good role models. My mum stayed home all her life, but she was an amasing role model, a kind, generous mother who was always around when we were sick or unhappy.

I am from a family of 3 kids. We had a nanny every now and then if my mother had something important to do or if she was sick, and also relatives who looked after us when my parents went on holiday once or twice alone together, but my mother was always there when we needed her, day and night. This is my lasting memory of my beautiful mother who passed away 2 years ago. She was a very artistic woman, did lots of arty things all her life, she wasn't interested in a prof. career. Yet she was also massively influential in encouraging me to get a good education and qualifications.

The problem as mothers and women we can NEVER be perfect. Whatver choices we make someone will criticise us.

Xenia talks about the other extreme, about her sister sleeping skin to skin with her children until they were 5. Extreme may be to some people, but it sounds gorgeous to me !

I have had masses of criticism and snide remaks about staying at home to bond and breastfeed my son for 3.5 years including from dh who did not approve of bf for that length of time). Ds has only just started reception class (he is 4.3), and it is the first time we have been apart every day.

For me and my personality this was the best thing to do. I think it was also the best thing for my son.

The first few years go incredibly quickly, to me he is still the baby I held in my arms, I can't believe he is going to big boys school now. I can't imagine what it would have been like to spend most of my time without him for those first few years.
Money has been tight, but that has been the only disadvantage.

What I would say though, is that it is incredibly important for women and would be mothers to make sure they have good qualifications BEFORE having babies. This will make it easier to return to full-time work after the first few years.

Most City women will have loads of skills and qualifications, so it is much easier for us to return to good employment even after a few years break.

I have friends caught in this trap now after having babies, they don't have enough qualifications to return to the kind of jobs they wish to have. It is never too late to go to university or to get other prof. qualifications, but it is damned harder after having babies.

katface Sun 14-Sep-08 08:46:08

sorry, didn't realise my posts were so long !

beeny Sun 14-Sep-08 08:51:36

I am a criminal barrister working part time it helps that in the past 8 months either me or my husband have finished work by about 3 so she is in creche for no longer than 5 or 6 hours i love being part time

tinto Sun 14-Sep-08 09:31:11

I am part-time too - but I made the switch into academia. I lecture (law) 2 days a week and will be starting my PhD part-time in March.

My girls are young - 2 years and 4 months and like so many of us, was faced with the dilemma of having children and just hitting my stride career-wise at the same time. So, I am using this time when the girls are young to continue to develop my career (and remain intellectually stimulated) and to be at home for the girls as much as I can. This is very important to me.

Financially, we survive. I do hope that I can be a good role model for my kids (aiming for Professor) and for them to feel that I was always there for them. Sometimes that isn't easy but I strive for it.

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