Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If You Give a Lawyer Mom with a Home Office a Cup of Coffee

If you give a lawyer mom with a home office a cup of coffee while she’s doing legal research, she’ll want a Girl Scout cookie to go with it. She’ll take the last box from the case and put the empty case in the garage. When she opens the kitchen door to the garage she’ll see her son’s shoes on the landing. She’ll take them to his room and see his bath towel on the floor and remember it’s time to do laundry. She’ll gather all the towels and head to the laundry room. As she’s loading the washing machine she sees the Swiffer cloths and remembers the blinds need dusting. As she’s dusting the blinds off the deck, she sees toys through the window and remembers she needs to get back to researching grandparent’s rights in Georgia. As she sits down in front of the computer she wants a cup of coffee and thinks she needs a separate office!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Good (Some Quirky) News For A Change

This weekend the news media bombarded us with some extremely bad news all weekend. Then I turn on the radio, and they are STILL TALKING about it. As a child advocate, it's really disturbing how callously those boys were and still are being treated. As the daughter of a veteran, the military mortuary scandal is horrifying. But, there's nothing I can do if I dwell on it except get angry and depressed, and that does no one any good. So, to find some balance I'm determined to start out everyday seeking GOOD, FUNNY, QUIRKY NEWS on the internet.

A sample of what I found today:

I really appreciate these,

as a parent of a female teenager: Looks My Teen Gives Me

as a married woman: Man Digs Through 9 Tons of Trash for Wife's Ring

as a pet owner: Dog Eats $1000 Cash! ; Truckers Help Rescue Animals (Kleenex alert!)

as a human being: Man Saved by Driver He Helped

as a Jane Austen fan: Jane Austen Would be a Blogger

as someone who loves a good laugh: Funny News Stories (a few are offensive, but the rest are jewels!)

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Please Honor a Veteran Today

Today is Veteran’s Day. Today is filled with memories for my family and me. December 28 will be two years that we laid my father to rest.  He was a veteran, served in the Navy for 20 years. My father-in-law was an Army veteran. Lots of family members are veterans of the Armed Forces. Having grown up “military,” I took for granted the discipline, the sense of honor, the order, the work ethic, the integrity. I fantasized about marrying a military man. I dreamed about entering the military myself. Then I grew up.

Now, I remember the long months my father was at sea. Often for 11 months out of the year—home for two months-gone again for 10 months. The strain on family dynamics was great. I had a front row seat to real “Navy Wives” drama. It was also very great.  I understand the high divorce rate among military marriages. Especially servicemen that have seen battle. It does something to them, that those of us at home will never understand. Inner-city ER personnel probably come closest. The rest of us don’t have a clue.

It wasn’t until I worked at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia's inner-city hospital, that I had a glimpse of how military service can affect a person. It was then that I got to know many, many homeless people. Too many are veterans. And sometimes they come back so traumatized, so changed that they can’t find their place at home any more. They don’t fit in with their families. Sometimes their issues so severe, that in order to preserve itself, the family has to separate themselves from the troubled vet because the resources to help the vet and the families transition back to civilian life are scarce or non-existent.
When I took my mom to Fort Campbell recently, for grocery shopping, I was struck by how young the soldiers were! I don’t remember the youth. I was young. My memories are of big, strong men doing their duty. They were my heroes. I saw wives shopping and knew they were struggling with tight budgets. I wondered how many kids were missing their daddies; how many of the young men I saw would be deployed and never return home; how many joined the Army because in this economy that was the best option, and then realized they’d gotten in over their heads. I began to pray. I prayed for everyone on the base—the soldiers, the wives, the children.

On the more positive side, I love to work with former military. There is often an instant camraderie among vets and "military brats." However, the unemployment rate among former military is reportedly higher than the general population. I don’t understand that.  Former soldiers are usually dedicated to getting the job done, and getting it done right. There’s a respect for the chain of command that drastically reduces the occurrence of insubordination. Yes, soldiers and former soldiers can be hard-nosed, but it’s what I know anyway and I can deal with it. The growth of our country after WWII can be credited, in large part, to veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill, a testimony to the value of discipline and self-sacrifice.

Please honor a vet today. My family and I will go the military cemetery in West Nashville, to visit my father, father-in-law and a couple of uncles, and honor their memories. In your travels today determine how best to honor a vet—a nod, a wave, a flag or flowers at a headstone, purchasing a homeless or veteran paper from the guy on the corner, or buying him or her lunch. Whatever you are led to do, please do.
For our future veterans consider buying Girl Scout cookies to be sent overseas, next year, Boy Scout popcorn, finding a penpal, sending “Care” packages to those you know or with whom you are acquainted, however slight. There are a lot of kids overseas without family, or home connections because the service was their best option.  The tiniest gestures are appreciated more than you know. Regardless of your philosophy on war or military service, please just reach out, human to human to let them know someone cares.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is Madness!

In my internet travels I have found, yet again, another reason for me to feel insecure about myself! Now, in some circles, it’s not cool to be called a mompreneur.  Why? Because it tells others that you have other priorities. Huh? So, it's not cool to NOT sacrifice your family for work? That is madness.

One definition of "madness" is "senseless folly". It doesn't matter what you call yourself, there will ALWAYS be someone there trying to marginalize you. If I let all those who try to marginalize me for who I am, (a black, female, christian, mom, works from home--to name a few) I would go live in a cave. If you listened to all who want to criticize you, you'll be all over the place and that is madness! Craziness, foolishness!

One well-meaning lawyer mom told me not to tell anyone I had children. She told me she would put her child in the back of the courtroom and pretend he wasn't hers. Frankly, I checked out when she said that. I don't remember anything else she said. On May 12, 1992 I became a mom, by choice. I am proud of it, and realize I must make adjustments because of it, but denying that fact is not one.

I have not always been this defiant. I empathize with the young "mompreneurs" who may be feeling their way. When I was younger I was also influenced by what others said. But, I soon realized that there will ALWAYS BE SOMEONE TO CRITICIZE YOU. I was so confused and defeated because I would adjust my course based on advice, then someone would find fault with that, so I'd change course again, and someone would find fault with that! You get the picture.

I stopped the madness when I followed some advice almost ten years ago that led to disaster, and I'm still suffering the consequences.  The worst part is I knew better. My instincts were telling me otherwise. It was then I realized many people will advise you based on their own agenda, not what is best for you. Seek wise counsel, but trust your instincts, and a mother's instincts are powerful.

Stop the madness! Trust your gut. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own voice-Steve Jobs One of the best inspirational speeches out there!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Going It Alone

I must preface this post with saying to those that don’t know me, that I am a rebel. It surprises many because I am not loud or the in your face kind of rebellious. It’s a “steel magnolia” kind of determination. Others who have seen it describe me as “strong,” “driven,” or even “stubborn!” When I really want something to happen, it happens, no matter what. The tone of this post is not as easy, breezy as the others, because I’m sensing it’s time to get real.

The common theme among some of the most recent studies of successful women is the supportive spouse.  (Good Enough, Working Mother, FRB) Support of some kind is critical to success, and for marrieds, the spouse is the closest and most logical source. But, what if he/she isn’t on board?

As a rule, I won’t share my family’s dirty laundry publicly, but I will this time.  Why will become clear soon.

When I decided to enter law school I didn’t tell my husband because I knew he wouldn’t support it. I completed applications and registered for the LSAT before discussing it with him.  I’d been told, directly, that I shouldn’t do anything my husband was against. With all due respect to those who believe that, I don’t.

People will advise you to talk it out, explain how you feel and he’ll come around. Very often, too often, that doesn’t happen. I had to tell him when it came time to sit for the LSAT.  I talked, but it didn’t help. His concerns were I had a profession, why change now?,  the money it would take, (we had gotten out of debt), and the 80+ hour work weeks. I hated being a dietitian, always have and after almost 20 yrs, it was time for me to make a change. It was going to be expensive, I couldn’t help that, but I minimized the loans as much as I could, and I wasn’t interested in the typical lawyer track. He wasn’t convinced.

I get asked all the time how I did it. How did I work, take care of kids and do law school, and towards the end, take care of an ill parent. Lots of support is my answer. Since my husband wasn’t supportive in the beginning I looked elsewhere. Friends, family, colleagues.  I had two really close friends I could rely on for support and advice, and two female professors especially were supportive and helpful with strategies to get through that first year. It wasn’t easy. Honestly, it was “hell.” But, I made it because I’m “strong,” “driven” or “stubborn.” Whatever name you give it, I AM going to make it happen.

 So, if you are going to make it happen you have to look elsewhere for help. Recently, I had a conversation with another woman with an unsupportive husband. She couldn’t figure out how to do all she had to do to further her business goals because she had to care for children. I advised her to ask for help. She has a huge circle of friends and acquaintances and I wondered why she wouldn’t ask.  One reason was she knew how busy other moms were with their families and she didn’t want to impose. The other-- she was embarrassed to let others know how her husband behaved.

 I advised her that there are a lot of us out there, and they would understand because they are dealing with “stuff” too. She asked, and now she has reciprocal babysitting relationships with some of her friends. We all have "stuff, "and we should be there for each other.

Some husbands eventually come around. Mine did about halfway through, when he saw that I was going ahead anyway, and I really wasn’t taking the typical “non-family friendly” lawyer’s track. Now he's got my back and who better! Seeking support from those around you who know and love you is the best strategy. But, even if you can’t find friends and family someone will be your cheerleader. However, you must be careful on the internet, and with whom you choose to share family issues. Be absolutely sure they have your best interests at heart. Before now, outside of my professors only two friends knew my struggle.

There’s lots of advice if you’re trying to realize a dream without a support network, and not all good.

Take what’s useful and leave the rest. Not all will apply to you.  Good Luck!

Friday, November 4, 2011

OMG, It’s Friday!

Every work-at-home professional I know has an administrative day. This was my administrative week.

I got nothing substantial done all week! I knew Monday and Tues were goners with errands, report cards, a trip to the Boy Scout store, sewing patches on a Cub Scout uniform, parent-teacher meetings, etc. But, I thought I could get back on track by Wed, but, alas! it was not to be. I had to leave the house everyday for something, and as you know, when you get interrupted it’s hard to find the groove again. It’s Friday, and I’ve done only two of the four most important things on my list, and virtually nothing on the “want to do this week” list. So, I’m out of the house again today. 

 I really need to work on the content for my website. That takes research and focus. Research and focus take time, and time is what I didn’t have this week. It’s Friday, so we don’t have to get up early tomorrow, and I can stay up past my 10p bedtime. The kids are accustomed to early bedtimes, so even on the weekends all are asleep by 10, anyway. I can work until I can’t think straight, which is about midnight.

Although I gripe, for effect, I am grateful for the unfettered time to do all the little things required to take care of a family. Like now. When this is published I’ll take a forgotten lunch to school. If I worked outside the home, I would have gotten a panicked call. I would then stress because they wouldn’t have money for lunch, and the lunch room ladies get funny about charging, and then send nasty notes about taking care of this ASAP! Then I would stress about making sure our account was cleared. Giving a child money and making sure it got to the right place is stressful in itself!

When I worked a traditional job, a lot of those little tasks became major tasks because there wasn’t time, and they had to be done, so those little tasks became big tasks accompanied by big stress, and someone saying, “Mom, chill. It’s not that big a deal!” But, it is a big deal. It’s got to be done, and if you can’t do it, you have to delegate, and delegate to the right person or you end up doing it yourself anyway. I’m getting worked up just thinking about that frenzy we called “life”!

I’m so grateful to be at home, but, like many professional moms who’ve decided to stay home, I worry about not contributing to the family finances. (The practice is going to take some months before my income makes any difference.) Then I remember the frenetic pace, the stress, the missed deadlines, the missed moments, the EXHAUSTION, and I get over it. Besides, I get a front row seat into Zane’s (7) world. One day this week, at dinner after taking a few bites of food he would scribble on a pad, few more bites, scribble . . . he was pretending to be a “food cricket” I love it!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When Mom Speaks . . .

One thing my mom used to tell me still remains vivid in my memory. “Don’t envy people because you don’t know what they’ve gone through to get there.” Maybe it has stuck with me because I’ve seen so much suffering and nonsense, even among the “privileged.”  I mean real suffering, not the Kim Kardashian kind.

That phrase and “Always address people you meet by Mr. or Mrs. until they give you permission to use their first names.” That one haunts me because the social atmosphere currently is so informal. I still practice that because I fear she’ll come around the corner at any moment, or the next time I talk to her on the phone she will know that I called a stranger by their first name. (She would always know, even when I was 200 miles away!)

But, what I hated the most, (you can probably guess) was “Because I said so!” I swore I would never say that to my kids. However, when Mom spoke, I listened.
I hated that, because I didn’t always agree, and debating with my parents wasn’t an option. I wanted to ask “why?” so many times, but I knew better. My plan was to reason with my children and let them know why the rules are in place so they would understand and follow them. (I know you are ROFL ‘bout now!)  So, when I was faced with disobedience my initial attempts at reasoning when they reached the stage of reason often went like this:

“Clean your room.”
“Why, nobody goes in there?

“Because, you need to get in the habit of cleaning up so you’re not a slob. If you’re a slob no one will want to live with you.
“What if they’re a slob, too?”

“Then your room will be a mess, and neither of you will have friends. "
"What if I don't want any friends?"
"If you learn to clean your room, you’ll learn discipline and do well in school. Go clean your room.”
In later years, I noticed they were tuning me out during my “reasoning speech.” The joke now is, while I’m talking and I can tell they’ve tuned me out, I’ll say “no one is listening to me!” and someone will say “huh?” and bring the house down.  They all get a kick out of that, even Dad when he’s around.

And now, the conversations takes on the proportions of a presidential debate. Even with the 7 yo.

Big sigh.
Well, that strategy hasn’t worked for getting clean rooms. After 20 years of parenting, I still can’t get a child to clean a bedroom regularly. The “you can’t go anywhere until your room is clean” strategy works better. When my teenager cleans her room everyone in the house knows she wants to go somewhere.

Out of frustration, I have reverted to the occasional “Because I said so!” I had about given up on the “reasoning” strategy, until I witnessed my oldest (15 at the time) admonishing my youngest (5 at the time) for doing something unkind to a baseball teammate. I don’t know what she said, but she talked to him for quite a while. He was contrite, apologized to the little boy, and I’ve never had a problem like that from him again. Since then I’ve frequently witnessed the oldest two “reasoning” with the younger two. Occasionally jumping in before I can open my mouth!
Since, we’ve been here I’ve overheard conversations between the girls. The most recent being my oldest daughter (now 17) coaching the youngest  (11) on how to take the high road in dealing with difficult kids at school.  And the arguments she made for and against certain behaviors were compelling and pretty much the same arguments I would’ve made.  Hmmm.  

I wanted to raise, independent thinking, reasoning , compassionate children.  So far, this has been true. No serious trouble, all enjoy public reputations as polite, kind children, pleasant to be around.  I can’t say I will never use those dreaded words, “Because I said so!”  I’m human, and sometimes I lose patience. And I can't say no one will ever give me any big trouble. We still got a lot of child rearing years ahead of us. But, I take comfort in knowing that when this mom speaks, they appear to be listening.