I don’t want you to look back on your experience as a mother and think that it was anything less than amazing.
There are times in our lives that make each of us stop and think about our priorities—about whether our goals and aspirations are truly worth our time or even fulfill us. I have had more of those moments after returning from two maternity leaves to a position at a large law firm than I’ve had in my entire life. After giving birth to two children, I was hit with the sudden realization of my mortality and the fleeting nature of life. I became hypersensitive about how I was spending my time. In my mind, my children would never be younger, and I would never be able to participate in their growth and development in the way I now wanted. This realization radically shifted the way I looked at my life and my career, prompting me to make aggressive changes in order to successfully adapt to being a lawyer and a wife and a mother simultaneously. Law school conveniently left this out of the curriculum, and colleagues were hesitant to discuss it. Scholarly articles didn’t touch the subject. That’s why I decided to take matters into my own hands. I wanted to share my journey through the Mommy, Esq. maternity and life coaching program and give this issue the legs it so rightly deserves.
Prior to having children, I, like most young, hungry professionals out there, felt like nothing could ever derail my career aspirations. From the time I graduated college to the day I had my oldest daughter, every breath I took, book I read, lunch meeting I arranged, class I scheduled, or law review article I wrote was only to further my goals of becoming a partner at a large New York law firm. My husband and I would sit up at night talking about how amazing our life would be. The imaginary life that we had created was exciting and fantastic—and, in our heads, it was a calculated, achievable dream.
Thousands of times, I’ve heard the expression that “we make plans and God laughs,” but I had yet to experience it until right before my law school graduation. After returning to New York from the University of Miami School of Law, God threw a curveball my way: my mom’s health rapidly declined, requiring her to be put into hospice care, as she was now unable to eat, breathe, or communicate on her own. Suddenly, I was taking off every other day from an internship I had worked so hard to secure, for the sake of spending a few last moments with my mom.
Instead of wondering what my next big career move would be, I would sit at my mother’s bedside. When she died, I was next to her. At that moment, the fabric of my life tore, my goals realigned, and I felt alone, scared, and, for the first time, without clear direction.
My husband and I decided that starting a family was now our top priority. I thought, what better way to overcome the loss of my mother than by becoming a mother myself? It’d be a happy experience for my entire family, and I could have the long, healthy relationship I always wanted with my mother but didn’t have the chance to have. Although I had returned to thinking about how I was going to obtain an associate position, at no point in our decision did I think once about how having a baby would impact the course of my career. I knew many female partners and senior associates with children that appeared to have it all. Truthfully, I believed that I would be wasting my time being concerned about it. Didn’t most women just power through it? If it was difficult to leave my daughter at home in the beginning, I knew it would get easier. Wouldn’t I make peace with the fact that my career would keep me from my home and family? Wouldn’t I feel calm and in control of it all because I could afford proper childcare and the help I needed while working? Wouldn’t I adjust just like everyone else?
There was literally nothing more difficult for me than leaving my firstborn daughter at home while I went to work. My husband stayed home and fed her, played with her, read to her, and raised her, while I worked 15 hours per day and held her for a few moments right before we both fell asleep. There was nothing quite like the pain of watching someone else—even though that someone was my beloved husband—raise my daughter while I was kept away from her. I felt heartbroken, defeated, and weak. I lost faith that I would be able to achieve a balance between being a successful lawyer and a loving and present mom.
In speaking with other mothers in client-driven professions about how I felt, I came to realize that these challenges are systematic, endemic, and nearly unavoidable without radically shifting your perspective and finding and applying a strategy for your life that actively prioritizes your personal and professional goals.
It is my sincere hope that Mommy, ESQ.’s tips, solutions, and maternity coaching programs will be able to provide working mothers with the mindset, tools, skills, and motivation to excel in their careers. Mommy, ESQ. isn’t the secret to having it all. It’s not a panacea for a perfect world. But it reflects my truth, and a full accounting of the tools I use to make it easier to cope with the growing demands of a thriving career and happy, healthy family.
Thank you, and I look forward to working with you!
Lisa Marie Lanham
Founder, Mommy, ESQ.
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