Saturday, April 6, 2013

Modified Duty

"I probably don't need to mention that my boss is awesome and I love my boss." This said, naively, on this blog a few months ago. How far my boss has fallen. I hate him.*

That was the beginning of a recent post that has since been heavily redacted. It turns out angry posts aren't funny. And a good friend advised caution when speaking about your boss, however anonymously, in detail.

So yes, that was true, I hated him for a few days. But we're back to baseline. (I am cracking myself up by using workers' comp terms.)

I was just really angry about a number of displays of sexism. The innocent kind and the subtle kind that leave you scratching your pretty little head.

Like his last four hires were attractive young women. I mean, is this a coincidence? Are we to believe that in the worst legal economy in the history of humankind, the only competent people looking for work are good-looking women in their 20s and early 30s?

I was also annoyed about the lack of support and training that I am receiving. But I have had lots of jobs where they say you will be trained and you're not. You just learn as you go, make mistakes, learn slowly, etc. I guess in the end it works out. But people were convinced I was not coming back to work and I don't understand that based on the fact that I am the breadwinner and my husband now stays home. My boss knew/knows that. And when I was negotiating salary, I specifically declined the benefits, so I obviously wasn't just taking the job for health insurance so I could deliver my baby without going bankrupt. When I came to the casual holiday lunch at the office two weeks before my leave was over, and was talking to a male associate about coming back to work, he said, "blah blah blah if you come back blah blah blah. Yeah, like I chose to hang out with you people on my time off because I just missed you so much and will never see you again after you pay me for ten weeks to start rearing my child. Suckas.
That reminds me, we just got a decision in our favor last week, and it turns out I wrote the brief (i.e. a document--not usually brief--submitted to the court presenting our argument) in the first two days I was back. When le bebe was not sleeping through the night, might I add. I mentioned it to my boss that I wrote the brief those first days, and he sounded way too surprised. Now the claimant is appealing though anyway.

The prior post closed like this:

I admit, I was having a bad day last Friday, which was, geez, only yesterday. So we'll see how things go in the next few weeks and months. If some of my suspicions are dispelled...or confirmed.

And for the most part...well, nothing has changed except that I haven't been hanging around my boss much recently. But that's working for me for now.

*Yes, hate IS a strong word.

Breastfeeding: It's Not Just for Hippies

There are so many topics swirling around in my head, I just couldn't settle on one. But today, when I should be working on a brief while le bebe naps, I am finally catching up on blog posting.

I generally dislike Hanna Rosin and her opinions*, but I just might agree with her about breastfeeding. Here is the introduction to that article, which also appeared in The Atlantic in April 2009:
  • In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?
Oh, fine, I will even link you to the article. This doesn't mean I like you, Hanna Rosin.

The article points out the financial losses sustained by women who breastfeed for six months or more versus those who do not. Rosin also addresses the imbalances that can occur between moms and dads when the mom breastfeeds exclusively. Do I consider my time spent nursing my baby miserable? No. But, I am going on six months now of exclusive breastfeeding. And--see next post--I am thinking it is holding me back at work.

Should this be the case? Of course not. A nursing mother should not have to go to work for full days and hook herself up to a milking machine behind a closed (and wish it were locked, too) door for up to two hours a day. Because mothers should be able to be with their babies after they are born, and still have an expectation of returning to work a few months later. But does it matter what should or should not be? No.

I am not sure which stubborn part of me has made it this far. The part of me that thinks formula is gross? (Not that breast milk isn't, by the way.) The part of me that's in the competition that Rosin mentions in the intro to her article? Or the part of me that says "screw you, job, I'm going to feed my baby the way I want to and you can't stop me"? I feel like I am really succumbing to the status quo if I stop breastfeeding because of that last part.

Or would I simply be doing what's best for me? But this question is loaded, too. How many times do we lament the lot of working women, only to conclude that no one woman has an obligation to stand up for all women? And so we all make our own "best for me" choices, and we remain separated instead of united, and we never really fight for change in the workplace. Right now, in my life and in my career, I am just so angry about this. And I see how it leads a lot of ambitious, motivated women to just drop out of the workplace all together. I mean, why bother with all of this crap? My job and my career are important to me, but not that important.

And listen, I am not judging other women's choices...and I am not necessarily calling myself ambitious and motivated. I've always felt that people take themselves too seriously at work. I've never felt like work was the most important thing in my life. So maybe that is my problem? I will never become partner at my law firm because I don't want to become partner at any law firm. I just want to punch in, punch out, enjoy my work in between at about an 80-20 ratio, and get home at a reasonable hour so I can hang out with my kids, or train for a marathon, or whatever.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could be ambitious and motivated and still enjoy your life outside of work, too? Who is the spokeswoman for that group of people? And why isn't that group of people...I don't know...everyone?

*She is the author of The Atlantic article you might have read or heard about titled "The End of Men." Hey, I know why men are ending...and it's not because women are finally taking over the world. I am contemplating writing a full-length researched article on this topic, so can't share my opinion here just yet. (Who am I kidding? Check back in a few weeks when I have completely given up on doing anything intellectual outside of work.)