Friday, April 21, 2017

Musing: Work, Leave, Planning, Writing, Scheduling

One of the hard parts about nonprofit life and being pregnant is knowing that all your leave will be unpaid. One of the great part about nonprofit life and being pregnant is knowing that since your leave is unpaid, you can take whatever you want.*

*Disclaimer: Obviously true for me. I can’t speak for everyone.

The first time, I took 12-ish weeks (okay, last minute daycare panic resulted in more like 13 weeks) off, then returned to work full time. I was a full-time litigator then, so I had to have a defined leave time so that we could hire a short term person to cover hearings, etc. This time? Imagine a gif right here of the Elmo Muppet shrug.

Here’s the thing: Baby 2.0 will be born in late July/early August. The book I am writing has a deadline of the beginning of December. So….leave will be hugely interfere with the completion of this book. There is no one we can hire to fix this. It has to be me and the co-author. She cannot do it alone. We have to do it together. There is no work around.

Which sucks, objectively. I definitely have to return to work much earlier than last time. Pretty much when I am healed and rested enough to focus for a few hours at a time, my ass will be in the office. First time mom Grace would have freaked out over this. Second time at this rodeo Grace is more like…Meh?

I suppose this is in part to not having any illusions about maternity leave. It will almost certainly be different this time—last time, it was January, and it snowed constantly until March, and we were trapped in the house, and I’ve never been so lonely, isolated, and miserable. I didn’t want to leave Lis but I hated maternity leave. I felt desperate in a way I haven’t felt since. No thank you. This time, it will be summer! Yay! Sunshine! I’ve also shed myself of any illusions of glorious maternity leave, and know it for what it is—a time to try to heal, get to know the kiddo, keep him alive, survive myself, and say to hell with it with cooking and cleaning.

I’m also kind of “meh” over the suckage because I am using this as a chance to work part time for a bit. I will go back at an unspecified earlier time, but only part time, and—I am bringing the baby. There is no daycare available to me before he turns 12 weeks; therefore, if I am needed in the office, he’s coming with me. Everyone has cleared it and is cool with it—another benefit of nonprofit life.

Since I will start working part time earlier than I should, I am going to continue working part time a bit longer. I think—baby personality willing—I am going to keep him with me and working part time until he’s four months old. That would mean a return to full time and a daycare start date of December. I like that idea. I like the idea of putting it off until January even more, so I am toying with that as well. If I do that, he would still start daycare in December, but I would increase my part time hours while he’s in daycare. So it would be a gradual daycare start for him and me, and a long gradual ease into work for me. Since I plan on having the book written by the time I have the baby, it would all be editing work, which I think (I *think*) is reasonable to get done, working several months on part time (I’m thinking October to December, working on nothing other than this book).

I also plan on bringing in some kind of portable bassinet, a blanket, a noise machine, toys as desired as he gets a bit older. I have multiple baby wearing options that I’ve acquired, and I think the best option for a chair will be my regular chair plus a large exercise ball. I’m trying to be realistic about the hours I can put in—a few in the office, maybe a few more at home. I do very much remember what it’s like with a tiny baby, but I also remember being trapped under a sleeping baby a lot, so if I can just wear him, I don’t see why I can’t read and edit…?

So, group input time!
1.     Is this insane?
2.     Okay, fine, it’s insane, but I am doing it anyway, so given that, is this insane?
3.     Does that sound like a reasonable plan to get work done? Part time over two months, instead of full time one month?
4.     Is there any reason for/against the idea of working part time until January and easing him into daycare?
5.     What supplies/specific products would be best to do this thing?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Faked It Until I Made It

I'll never be a trial lawyer, I vowed. My face turns beat red when a professor calls on me, I freeze, I invert words, I am terrified. Stick me in an office and let me be a document rat.

Of course, I then litigated cases full time, as my only job, for five years. I can't stop those reactions. They are just a biological thing, and bodies gonna body. I learned to control them, and even use them to my advantage. Terrified = I over prepare, anticipate every objection and twist and turn, and as a result, I am almost always the most prepared person in the room. I know the evidence rule that deals with your objection. I have the case law cite that supports my argument. Freeze = gives me a chance to slow down my voice, pick a good cadence, gather my thoughts, take a breath.

There's not much I can do about the red face, but I did invest in some really good grownup makeup, so there's that at least.

I got good at it. I even enjoyed litigating. There's rhythm, a beginning and an end, but the middle is more like jazz music. You can get n groove and move along with it, but it's always somewhat on the fly, changing, shifting under your feet and fingers. Just dance along and listen, you'll be fine. I enjoyed it so much that I thought, yeah, I'll never be an office lawyer now. I like this.

Of course, I got a promotion into what would have originally been my dream job--writing a legal textbook, doing a ton of research and writing, some policy work, and, ugh, presenting at conference and training attorneys, judges, other professionals, and so on.

I was bummed to leave full time litigation behind--I still keep a small docket of cases, to keep my skills sharp, but it's much smaller--but damn if it wasn't easier with a small kid who was a tiny disease vector to be mostly in the office and not be at the court's whim and mercy. I've been there four years now--writing this book, researching and writing other things, reaching out to the statewide community to teach them, starting new clinics and initiatives, doing some policy stuff. It's fun.

I still freeze. I still turn red. I still over prepare. I'm still all those things, I am still me, and that's something I don't think I appreciated while I was trying to pick a career path. You're always going to find an aspect of your job that challenges an essential part of you that you really can't change. You have to find your work around.

Law school Grace would never, ever, NEVER EVER SO MUCH NOPE imagined me doing what I am doing now. Talking on radio shows with live call-in callers? Speaking to hundreds of people about the law in one sitting? Starting up legal clinics from scratch and working nights and weekends to reach communities that are terrified for their lives and their children? Still litigating? Yeah, no. Law school Grace would have dug the book and document writing, and that's about it.

I wonder where I'll go from here, and what new workarounds I will have to find.