MILF (Part 2)

“Mom, I’m begging you please don’t go…Please.”

It’s the night before Career Day at my 15-year-old son’s school and I have been asked by one of his high school administrators to come in and speak to the students about the “perks” of being an attorney. My son has been trying for the past month and a half to convince me not to go because according to him his friends think I am a MILF.

After several discussions, a lot of help from you guys in the blogging community, and a whole lot of thought I told my son that I am, in fact, going to participate in Career Day. He was not happy but we had managed to reach a compromise. The compromise was I would make presentations to the Freshmen, Juniors, and Seniors and skip the Sophomores all together since Blake, my son, is a Sophomore. He had agreed to this compromise a few weeks ago but here he comes again, the night before the actual event, begging and pleading with me to not show up to his school the next morning.

I was forced to pull rank on him and let him know I am in charge here, the decision had been made and I was going; besides I would never ever forfeit the commitment I had made at this last-minute.

As he left for school the morning of Career Day he warned me not to try to discipline any of the students if they weren’t listening to me, or if they “spoke out of turn” or “acted up”. He asked me “to leave the discipline to the teachers”. I was a little surprised by this and started wondering for a second what the hell I was walking into. I assured him the only person I would ever discipline is him. I explained to him I would never under any circumstances try to discipline a human I didn’t give birth to.

Blake didn’t kiss me goodbye, as he usually does, as he slouched off to school that morning.

My energy was low from a very busy week and it was pouring rain as I traveled to his school and all of that affected my mood. I grew nervous as I thought about all the conversations we had concerning the issue and how adamant he was that he did not want me in his school, around his friends and all the ridiculous reasons why. I started second guessing my decision to go, so much so I had to reach out to my bestie for a pep talk and a little encouragement.

The bestie’s pep talk worked and by the time I arrived for Career Day, I was feeling like my confident, vivacious self again. I picked up my schedule from the library, confirmed that there were no sophomore classes on it and proceeded up the staircase to find my first class for the day.

My first stop was a bunch of eager Juniors in an AP English class, who had a ton of questions for me. It felt like they wanted to know everything about the law and the practice thereof from the actual Law School application process, to my favorite area of practice and they even wanted to know what a typical work day for me was like in the Courtroom or at the office. They even asked if it was difficult for me to balance my personal/family life with my work obligations, which I thought was an excellent question.

My first presentation went very well and it only got better from there. By the time I got to my third class for the day I was well into the groove and it all began to feel effortless and natural. I actually started wishing I had Blake in one of my scheduled classes so I could impress him. 😃

At lunch, I met a Judge I had appeared before some years ago. What are the chances, huh?! I remembered his face and his name. I wasn’t surprised he didn’t remember me but I found out that he was an alumnus of my son’s school. He commended me on taking time out of my busy solo practitioner schedule to actually “give back” to my “son’s school”. As we chatted over our baked ziti I told him about the inordinate amount of resistance I faced from my son about attending Career Day and he assured me that it was “typical teenage boy reaction”. He said his son, who is now an adult, put his wife through the same thing. He said, “Your son is secretly proud of you but he probably won’t tell you until he’s about 25”.

Meeting Judge S was the highlight of my day and as we parted ways at the end of lunch he assured me that if my son was “gung-ho” for me to show up at his school for any reason whatsoever he wouldn’t be “normal”. My conversation with him was comforting and he advised me to “show up again next year” if given the opportunity.

I only had one Freshman class for the day and they were exhausting, enthusiastic but exhausting. The teacher left me alone with them for only a quick minute and it seemed that during that minute everyone had a question at the same time. They were my toughest crowd, and they reminded me of the astounding difference in the maturity levels of teenagers. The Freshmen were not shy with their line of questioning though, they were all about the money and wanted to know how much money I made and whether or not it was worth it to go to Law School.

I spent 7 hours at Blake’s school and I didn’t run into him even once. I thought for sure I would have bumped into him in the hallways as the students went from one class to the next or while they collected books from their lockers but my son managed to avoid me all day. I did see 2 of his friends though, who went out of their way to make sure I saw them and said hi to me. I was tempted to ask about Blake’s whereabouts but thought better of it.

At the end of the day, I went to the main office to say hello to the Dean of Academic Affairs, who told me that he had seen Blake earlier and asked him if he was excited that his Mom was participating in Career Day. Blake’s response, “She’s certainly excited. I am not.” Ouch!

All in all, it was a great day. I am glad I made the decision to be a part of Career Day and I can’t wait for next year to do it all over again. 😉

There Is Enough to Go Around

I was recently at a conference when I met a friendly young lady and we started talking about our careers, she told me she was an attorney, as well and that she was getting ready to do the Bar Exam in a few months. We continued chatting for a while, exchanging pleasantries, when another young lady came over to us and joined in on our conversation. Since the conference could also be considered a networking event it wasn’t strange that the other young lady had randomly joined in on our conversation.

Turns out that young lady #2 was also an attorney, an entertainment lawyer, she said. She posed the question to me and my first conversationalist about our areas of practice and how long had we both been practicing. I told her. Young Lady #1 explained that she was getting ready to study for the Bar Exam and that she was currently employed as a patent attorney.

“You haven’t taken the Bar yet?” Young Lady #2 said incredulously to Young Lady #1.

“No, but I’m studying for it now, I take the exam in…” Young Lady #1 was interrupted by Young Lady #2. “Well that means you’re really not an attorney then, if you haven’t taken the Bar yet, I mean you have to be licensed first before you can call yourself a lawyer.”

The two women kept going back and forth for a minute. The first young lady explaining that since she already graduated law school and was currently employed as an attorney with a law firm that she was, in fact, a lawyer, while the other young lady kept telling her in a somewhat condescending tone that she was not, in fact, a lawyer until she had passed the Bar Exam and received her law license.

I really don’t know what the proper protocol is in order to call one’s self an attorney. However, what I got from the conversation or should I say debate between the two women was that it seemed that Young Lady #2 was somewhat threatened by the prospect of another young female attorney coming aboard the legal train and was determined to let her know, in no uncertain terms, that she is not “one of us” until she had gone through certain rigorous training, which Young Lady #1, might not even be able to complete. Young Lady #2’s conduct was uncalled for and unkind and, in my opinion, just plain boorish.

My Light Does Not Dim Yours

Here’s the thing – My light, no matter how bright it shines, does not diminish yours. There is room enough for all of us to succeed and be great without anyone feeling threatened. Your success does not affect mine, nor does it happen the other way around either, my success certainly does not affect yours, even if we are in the same industry. We could even be interviewing for the same job and the fact that you may get that job does not mean that I won’t get another job, equally as good. How I see it is that particular job wasn’t really meant for me if I wasn’t the selected candidate.

There is no over saturation in any field or profession, where they won’t be room for another success story. People die, unfortunately, or retire every day, therefore there will always be room for others. Always!

Discouragement

Years ago when I first decided to start my own law practice I was still wet behind the ears, only a few years out of law school, but it was something I wanted to do. I remember speaking to a successful solo practitioner, someone who was somewhat of a mentor to me, telling him I wanted to go out on my own and asked for some advice about what I should expect initially. I was surprised when he advised me not to start my own practice. He asked why I would want to give up the security of a salary to work for myself? He told me that it would take years and years and years to build my practice to the point where I would be comfortable enough to turn over a profit.

My response to him was, “I better get started then since it’s gonna take so long.”

Honestly, I was shocked at the lack of encouragement. Here I was thinking that he’d be gung-ho at his protegé trying to go out there and make a name for herself, sort of following in his footsteps, but instead, he was trying to talk me out of it. It seemed as if he thought little ole me was going to be some kind of competition to his already thriving practice. I took his words with a grain of salt and still went out on my own because I knew that if I never tried it I would spend my life wondering, “What if?”

A few years after I had started my own practice and was doing okay for myself when my mentor and I were having lunch and he admitted to me that “new, young fresh blood and brains” is always a threat to the older folks who had been “grinding for all these years”. Wow! My first thought was what about the opportunity to teach? What about the opportunity to impart your knowledge upon these “new, young, fresh blood and brains” coming into the industry? The older generation will always have more expertise than the new kids on the block. Why not seize the opportunity to impart your knowledge and expertise in a positive way? Lead, by example. Encourage! There is enough happiness and blessings to go around for everyone to partake and be content. Always!

Competition

Personally, I don’t like competition. There is a theory that a little healthy competition never hurts. That might very well be true but the only person I am in competition with is myself in an effort to be better today than I was yesterday. I admire those who inspire and motivate but competition only pits one person against the other and builds misplaced resentment. We each move at our own pace as individuals and what might work for you today might not work for you tomorrow and that goes for all of us so getting cutthroat and competitive, in my humble opinion, is a waste of time. Have that healthy competition with yourself, not with others, and become the best you can possibly be.

We have to get rid of this scarcity mindset, that there isn’t enough of a good thing to go around, because there truly is. We should be happy for others when they elevate themselves, especially when well-deserved through hard work. We should promote, encourage and cheer each other. I truly believe that when we uplift others it does something for our psyche that allows us to grow as individuals and make us better people. Someone else’s gain is not your loss, the successes of others, if anything, should be evidence that we can all be successful too. Believe me when I tell you there is enough to go around for everyone.