Deliberate Action, Deciding to Have Children, and Other Life Choices


This week, we opened a new office in Manchester.  And by we, I mean my employer, who until a year and a half ago was a solo attorney.  When I joined him at that time, he became a ‘we’.  And we are expanding.

He wanted me to update our website and compose an email announcing all of our big changes, both recent and impending.  I am still going to do that, but in the meantime, two tasks became necessary that led to my inadvertent early disclosure of these updates.

First, I had to contact someone outside the firm about adding new names and email addresses to a local professional group we belong to.  So it’s now obvious that our business is growing.

Second, I need to write this blog post.  Actually, I needed to write it this morning, but it didn’t happen, for a few reasons.  But I want to do this.  It’s something I need to do, and that I want to do, and because the new office, new staff, and overall expansion is pretty much taking up all of my brain space at the moment, this is also the topic of my post tonight.  So here I am, announcing to you that the special education law firm I work for is expanding and that we have a new office.

Over a year ago, I debated whether I should continue working out of my house or lease office space.  I found a sublease but it didn’t work out for me.  And then one of the best known special ed attorneys (we call ourselves “parent attorneys” in the world of SpEd, but I realize that sounds ambiguous outside of our niche) in Connecticut offered me a job.  And I accepted said job.

I’m not sure that anything that has happened to me in my career was the result of my deliberate action.  The last deliberate career move I made was deciding to go to law school — and even that was arguably something that happened to me, rather than something I happened to choose.  Everyone who goes to law school thinks they know why, but truthfully they have no idea what they are going to do with that degree and their bar admission.  It’s not so much a deliberate decision, but the world around you telling you this is what you should do next because like hell do you know what you should or want to do with your life.  So my brain made up a story about how I wanted to do good things for good people, and how becoming a lawyer was the sure path to allow me to do such things.

I like my new office.  I share it with one other attorney, our new person.  Her parents helped us put together furniture.  I’m not saying it was IKEA furniture, but I will say that we were trying to keep our costs down and that it was the kind of furniture you need to assemble.

I almost stood on my new desk to fix a curtain rod I couldn’t reach.  I decided this was not a good idea.

No, seriously, I am so glad to finally have a dedicated workspace that is not located inside my house.  That worked for a while, until it didn’t.  Things were getting cluttered, which was throwing me off.  The daily sight of files and tattered notepads strewn about on the floor alongside half-colored pictures of Disney princesses was becoming symbolic of my struggle to separate my work life from my home life.

I’m not sure if I can say that all of these career and job changes, however random seeming, actually resulted from my deliberate actions, especially since I had no idea what my work situation would look like when I was done with school just over a decade ago.  I also wasn’t sure when exactly I would have children, but the decision to have them somehow looks and feels more like deliberate action to me.  I really, really wanted to bring a child into existence, and then I made it happen.  I feel a bit strange about that, even though this is something completely normal.  Why is it that I look back at my career and wonder just how I got here, with mixed and intense feelings, but I look at my two girls and say, “yes, that happened.”  I mean, don’t think that  I’m not positively thrilled that it happened.  It just seems too natural, without the usual inner conflict and second-guessing that accompanies many, if not most, of my life decisions.  When I knew I was ready for the rollicking good time only endless nights of sleep deprivation and mustard-colored poop can bring, it was,like the skies parted, angels burst into song, and a heavenly messenger descended from on high to inform me that THIS IS NOW THE TIME THAT YE SHALL BEAR CHILD.

I wish that would happen in my career.

I should not, and will not, complain.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  A career dilemma is realizing when you’re elbows-deep in student loan debt that your degree is useless.  I’m not in a career dilemma; I’m at a career crossroads.  It’s not like I’m completely lost, but more like, I want to keep driving and see what’s up ahead before deciding to turn around and go back to the last intersection … but then I worry that the further I drive, the tougher it’s going to be to turn the car around and retrace my route back to where I started, so that I can finally reach my destination, if only in a roundabout way with the bad traffic I was trying to avoid.

I think, because I got used to all the professional turns in the road, there was a part of me that also developed a love of the associated drama.  Not that I would have admitted that to myself in the past, but I think I make difficult decisions because I’m more afraid of being bored than I am of things being hard.  Like the other day, it occurred to me that I am going to die without visiting every country in the world.  It made me sad that I will probably never see Zimbabwe or Finland.  I might see Japan and the United Kingdom.  I think those are very interesting places, and that I could make an effort to see them in this lifetime.  But it’s not realistic for me to visit every single country.  It just makes me sad for a minute, and then I get over it pretty quickly.

So maybe I was subconsciously craving drama when I convinced myself that my second child was a result of the proverbial “accident,” unlike the first pregnancy.  Because that was really not at all true.  I knew exactly what was happening, and we don’t have those kinds of accidents.  I just read too many romantic stories about how that kind of thing happens, and was used to seeing my career path as a series of happy accidents, so I made up a story about an accidental second baby because I enjoyed the drama, or took comfort in the familiarity of that scenario, or both.

Image via WikiMedia Commons

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