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When winning may feel like losing

At the close of each workday, I put together a (wish)list of to-dos for the following day. The list includes items that need to be completed, whether for a client, for a committee or board that I serve on, or a personal item that needs to get done. The following morning, I begin the task of trying to complete all of my to-dos. Unfortunately, the list usually grows larger as the day progresses and, much like Sisyphus, by the time the day ends, the boulder has rolled back to the bottom of the hill.

Drafting a blog for Generation J.D. has had an impressive streak on my to-do list (and not in a good way). And, everyday, I think to myself, “I am going to write the blog.” I keep an every growing list of blog articles to write, ranging from “Why Millennial Lawyers Get a Bad Rap” to “Learning to Negotiate by Practicing with my 8- and 5-year-old children” to “My Work Family.” But lately some other priority leaps ahead of my blog writing.

The Generation J.D. bloggers adhere to a loosely defined schedule of blogging every other week. My last Generation J.D. blog post was July 13. (I just looked it up and am ashamed to admit it, but here it is, for all of you to read).

So I recently committed myself to write a blog (as I have been since July 27, 2015, which is two weeks after my last blog post). But my schedule (professionally and personally) has been crazy. Whether it’s a trial or soccer practice or an evening meeting with a client, my life has not been my own. One recent day, the potential roadblock came in the form of a mouse skull.  It was my day to pick up the kids from aftercare and, after running out of the office, I got to school just before the late fees start to kick in. Before we left, my youngest son ran back into the school to pick up something he got as part of being in the environmental club.

We got home and the normal craziness begins. Walk the dog, pack lunches, cook dinner, review homework, baths – I am prepared for it all. Halfway through, however, I had the following exchange with my youngest son, which I was not prepared for:

Son: I had one or two mouse skulls and I can’t find them.

Me: Huh?

Son: Mouse skulls.

Me: Huh?

Son: We got mouse skulls and bones from environment club.  They came from an owl.  I can’t find the mouse skulls.  I had one or two of them, but there are only bones here.

Me (Without skipping a beat, thinking “Mom is going to be very, VERY upset if she find the mouse skulls in the house”): I guess we should find them.

So we spent a good amount of time looking for the mouse skulls. My oldest (thankfully) found one sometime later and disaster (I hoped) was adverted.

(I am taking the position that there was only one mouse skull).

On many occasions, with a two-working-parents household, my wife and I feel like we are losing at work-life balance. Sometimes it is something innocuous, like forgetting to make sure the kids are wearing the proper colors for spirit week. Sometimes it is a punch in the face, like when my son asks “Why can’t we chaperon the field trip?”

It feels like losing and it’s hard and it hurts, but I blame a portion of the feeling to Facebook and a portion to my own guilt. My Facebook newsfeed explodes with the awesomeness of other people, their awesome parenting, and their awesome lives. Parent 1 taking their kids to something awesome and Parent 2 topping Parent 1’s awesomeness with double awesomeness.

We must remember not to compare ourselves to Facebook. Very few people post about the mundane aspects of their lives, the difficulties they are having or their lack of awesomeness (and when they do, their FB friends roll their eyes). We post (me included) about their trips, their children, their meals, and their awesomeness. So don’t compare yourself to Facebook.

The other issue is guilt. I spend more time away from home than I would like, but I enjoy my job and I enjoy what I do. My wife and I try to balance it out the best we can and find as much time to spend with each other (with and without kids). I think we do a pretty good job. And when we are not with our sons, we try to make sure they are with our parents or siblings.

But it doesn’t stop the guilt. And, if I look back, I spent a lot of time making them a priority, whether it’s bringing them to soccer practice, the O’s game or spending an evening on my hands and knees looking for a mouse skull that may be been a result of owl excrement that may or may not be somewhere on my kitchen floor.

So, the reason I write this blog (in addition to explaining why it has been so long since my last post) is to send out the following message to those of you who feel the same way as I do: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is for the parents that cannot figure out why we have only had two full weeks of school since school started. And for my friend that is going back to work in two weeks after her maternity leave ends and is coordinating daycare schedules with work and Bar association meetings. You are not alone and we are not losing the battle with work life balance. Sometimes it just feels that way.

But you are awesome. And you can post that on Facebook.