Weekend Open Thread

Patagonia Bandha DressSomething on your mind? Chat about it here.

I don’t know what made me think of it today, but I was remembering an oldish NYT article about how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs travel. (Answer: very lightly!) One of the few women interviewed for the story swore by a particular dress, calling it her “lifesaver” and noting that it was “pretty much smellproof and wrinkleproof,” and that you “can dress it up or down.” As it turns out, my spidey sense was tingling because 6pm has the dress on sale in three colors: “blue butterfly,” pink, and teal. (Zappos still has the dress full price in black.) The dress was $79, but is now $39-$59 at 6pm. Patagonia Bandha Dress

(L-all)

Comments

  1. How do you deal with salary differentials among groups of friends?

    Here is my situation: I probably make more money than most of my friends as a lawyer but I’m single and have no one to share living expenses with, plus I work a lot more than most of my friends. I’m currently trying to save some money and cut down on expenses but I can’t share that with my friends because I get snarky comments about how I have so much more money than them. Any tips/advice/suggestions?

    Thanks

    • Just don’t talk about it? Add to that, be sensitive about suggesting really expensive outings, restaurants, etc. I think people deep down understand that everyone at some point has a spending cap. Yours may be higher than theirs, but you still have a finite amount of money to spend.

      • Senior Attorney :

        There’s a difference between saying “Sorry, that’s not in my spending plan” in response to, say, a specific invitation or suggestion, and general kvetching over how “poor” you are and how tough things are and how you’re trying to cut back and save money and cut down on expenses.

        The former is completely appropriate, whereas the second is kind of boring and TMI and likely to draw those snarky remarks, especially when done in the company of people who make less money than you.

        • Yes! I tend to say: “I will skip because I didn’t budget this” and typically it’s fine.

          • SoCalAtty :

            I’ve done that too, and totally respect it when others do the same…but I WISH my friends would just say that! I’ll often offer a range of places to go, and inevitably someone goes anyway and then says something like “wow I’m way over budget now, I don’t know what I’m going to do!!”

      • Yay! Open thread’s! I love open thread’s and the color of this dress, tho the v neck is a littel suggestive and Frank would definiteley peek at my boobies. FOOEY on that!

        As for the OP, yes, this can be a probelem, tho in my case, the peeople I deal with are mostley investement banker’s who make alot MORE money then me, and I am NOT jelous of them b/c they often work weekend’s while I am out shoppeing or eating or at home with Mom bakeing apple pie’s!

        But if I were makeing more money, I would NOT talk about it with other’s b/c most peeople would be jelous of me, particulearly now that I am a partner. Dad say’s that if I play my card’s right and the firm has similar PROFITEABILITY next year, I could make as much as $450,000 with a bonus. That to me is alot of money, tho Myrna makes more and Sam make’s alot more, as a manageing director at his investement bank.

        I do NOT know what Willem make’s but Sam say’s it’s alot less b/c he works for a small NON-US bank and they pay in Euro’s not dollars, and he has to get it excheanged here b/c they are paying him in Belgum. I do NOT like the idea of NOT makeing dollar’s. What am I to do with EURO’s? Frank says the money can be exchanged easily, but dad say’s that most bank’s charge 2% to do so. FOOEY! That is like a 2% tax, and I do NOT want to pay 2% tax just to get US Dollar’s! DOUBEL FOOEY!

        Willem say’s he does not mind, b/c he keep’s most of his account in Belgum and that is where he will return (with me if I marry him). I can NOT agree to marry him until I know I can have a family with him and I do NOT want to have to have a divorce if he does NOT get along with me. Grandma Trudy say’s I have to be flexibel when it come’s to men and that mean’s I can’t wait for a guy to be PRINCE CHARMING. She pray’s that whatever guy I marry will respect me for my MIND, and not just want to have sex with me all day. I told her I agreed. YAY!!!!

    • Hmm, not sure why you can’t say “I’m trying to save more and cut down on expenses” to your friends when they suggest doing expensive things and you want to decline. Nobody knows the details of anyone’s finances and its incredibly rude for them to assume you can afford something just because they know your salary (and why do they know your salary anyway? Or do they just know you’re a lawyer? Not all lawyers are highly paid. I remember hearing the median lawyer salary is around $60K or something – you could point that out to them).

    • Anonymous :

      When you get invited to an activity, decide if it’s worth it to you. If not, politely decline (don’t have to specify it’s because of money).
      Suggest activities that are within your budget.

      • anon a mouse :

        I would love to hear ways to politely decline without giving a reason…. the times I have tried this my friends say “oh, what are you doing?” or “why can’t you come?” I know they are genuinely curious, and then I feel like I owe them an explanation. Just saying “I’m sorry, I can’t make it” with nothing else feels rude. Or is that just me?

        • Not just you – if someone just declined my invitation without giving me a reason, I would definitely think that they just didn’t want to spend time with me.

          • Would you feel that way if they suggested doing something else another time? E.g., you say “I want to check out that new restaurant – feel like dinner Friday?” and your friend says “Shoot, I can’t. But it’s supposed to be gorgeous Saturday and I was thinking I might take a bike ride. Want to join me?”

        • Anon in NYC :

          I agree. I’m pretty open with my friends, so if something is more than I can afford / am willing to spend, I will usually suggest an alternative way to get together like, “That sounds fabulous but I’m trying to save money right now. Do you want to do X instead?” with X being a yoga class, a hike, dinner, brunch, etc.

        • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

          It used to be that you could politely decline an invitation with a simple “thank you for the invitation but I’m not able to make it,” and that was that. It would actually have been considered rude to ask “why can’t you make it?” because you could make the person declining feel bad which would make you a bad host/hostess/organizer. I’m not sure when it switched but I wish it would switch back. It’s not really anyone’s business (close friend or even family) why I decide not to attend something. Whether my reason is cost or something less important, it’s not really polite to ask why.

          • I agree. But it also used to be that people would do things like RSVP to parties (my pet peeve) and they don’t do that anymore either.

          • Anonymama :

            It is rude to try to give someone a guilt trip over something like this, or pry too deeply for an acquaintance, but if a close friend or family member regularly started declining invitations and did not give a reason for it, it would strike me as really strange, and even worrisome.

    • Honey, if my friends met my legitimate money concerns with sarcasm and passive aggression, I’d find new friends.

      • hoola hoopa :

        I was thinking the same thing.

      • Kanye East is wise.

      • I kinda thought this too. I make more money than a lot of my friends but they know that right now any extra money I have is going towards paying down my student loans. One of my friends is in a similar boat (her husband makes a lot of money) and they are also putting everything towards loans. Another of our friends is single, makes a lot of money, and has no loans. She spends a lot of money on clothes and that’s her decision to make because it’s her money. We occasionally talk about finances (debt paydown being a priority for us) and it’s not a big deal. I understand not everyone is comfortable talking about finances and if any of my friends wasn’t I would respect that too. That being said, we don’t generally do expensive activities above and beyond dinner and drinks.

      • This.

    • I totally agree with all of these suggestions and have been trying them but I get the sense there is something else underlying all of the passive-aggression from their end (mostly because I often have to cancel events for work reasons). I don’t talk about my salary with my non-law friends but I think they’re guessing.

      I guess this is probably a deeper issue than just salary differentials. Thanks for your helpful advice ladies!

      • Senior Attorney :

        Well, from their point of view it’s looking like you are flaking out on them on a regular basis. I think you’re right — this is a lifestyle issue going beyond salary. Their time is their own in a way that your time really isn’t your own, and that’s probably hard for them to understand.

        • Right, having read this now, it sounds like they are feeling neglected/unprioritized if you cancel the plans that you DO agree to with them, and won’t agree to a lot of things they suggest. That’s a whole other matter and could be an issue no matter who earns how much.

        • I think the issue is availability – I feel like I can’t commit to anything Mon-Thurs evening because work does interfere and they don’t want to give up their weekends to spend time with me because apparently Friday and Saturday nights are date nights. The only time I’ve seen them in the last 6-9 months are birthday parties which are always at least 75pp or engagement parties or wedding events.

          How do you manage things then? I’m always frustrated because work takes over but I don’t think that’s unreasonable given that I’m in a busy litigation niche practice. How do you manage friendships when your schedules are so different?

          I’m never going to be free for dinner at 6:30pm on a weekday, even if things slow down at work so I just don’t know how its possible to make it work.

          • This is where scheduling Brunch on a saturday or sunday can be your best friend. And if you don’t have other things going on that day, it can organically turn into a fun afternoon of shopping/at the park/museum/etc too.

          • What about meeting for the occasional lunches? I find that sometimes it’s a lot easier to get away for an hour during the middle of the day than to get away early at night.

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            I have a pretty small number of friends that I actually see regularly for this very reason.

            For the friends that live nearby, we usually grab dinner one on one or in a small group about once every six weeks. We meet late (7:30ish), and near my office, and I have my assistant block out “do not disturb” time during that evening on my calendar. If anyone who would hold a dinner with friends on a Tuesday against me asks where I am, I’m “networking.”

            For the friends that live further away (where I’d have to travel on a weekend to visit them), I usually claim I’m traveling for a family obligation (because whatever, I define my own family, thanks), and again, block it out in my calendar as “do not disturb” time.

            I won’t say I never cancel on people – it definitely happens more than I’d like, even now – but I’m not constantly flaking anymore (as happened when I first started working), and I’m following through on the plans that I do make.

          • Anon in NYC :

            I totally agree with the above Anon. Weekend brunches, morning/mid-day yoga classes, museums, coffee, shopping during the day – all of those are great activities for people who 1) can’t commit to anything on a weeknight (you and me both), and 2) may have other plans on Friday/Saturday nights. Plus, I have typically found that even during my busiest time during work I can usually get away for an hour or so on a Saturday or Sunday.

          • I second the brunch idea, and I also have a pretty small number of friends I see regularly. Although I have to say, if they are blocking out both Fri and Sat evenings as ‘date nights’ that sounds like they are at least half the problem. Most working adults with demanding, fulltime jobs don’t socialize much during the week and if your friends can never get together with you on weekends, it sounds like they aren’t prioritizing the friendship.

          • As a litigator, I deal with this by meeting up with friends later on weeknights, like at 8:30/9 pm, for a glass of wine, scheduling plans in advance on nights immediately after key deadlines, when I know I will have an easier time getting out of the office, leaving early for “networking” happy hours/early dinners and returning to the office afterwards, and having Sunday night dinners. Also, even if my friends have “date night” on Fridays, I sometimes meet them early for happy hour, as it is more acceptable to leave the office a bit early on Fridays (to “network”), especially if it is a given that I will be in the office the entire weekend.

          • I hate reading all of these comments about not being able to do something during the week. Yes, being in biglaw makes this extremely difficult, but it’s not impossible if you stick up for yourself. I’ve seen too many colleagues quit because they have no life without even trying to set even minimal boundaries (like sticking with dinner plans during the week twice a month). I’ve seen a few set these boundaries and, guess what, they did not get fired, and are much happier with their lives and jobs.
            Maintain your relationships as best you can. And I agree with KKH, you can always call it networking, which it absolutely is.

          • I definitely do the weekend brunches/late night glasses of wine with my lawyer friends but my other friends just seem to think it’s completely unreasonable that I can’t make a weekday 7pm dinner and don’t seem to want to sacrifice time with their husbands on weekends to hang out with me. So basically I’m in a no-win situation here.

          • I don’t know what to add because I am in a really similar situation. My friends know that I don’t get home from work until 7:30, and that I need to feed my dog before going anywhere (he won’t eat if I’m not there, and if I take him with me, he won’t eat in a strange place or the other large dogs gobble up his food). I also can’t stand weeknight events because it means I run home to frantically change and meet them, and then go straight to bed (past my usual time) when I get home. I get nothing else done the rest of the evening, like actually spending time with my sweet pup, making a meal that will leave leftovers for the next day’s lunch, working out if I missed the morning, etc. They know the anxiety it causes me and one in particular has similar anxiety issues so she claims to understand. Yet every. single. time. we try to make plans, they try to do things at 6:30pm on a weeknight. For a while, I’d want to see them so I’d agree to let it slide “just this one time” and bust my butt to get out of work an hour early, but they took that to mean that I could do that whenever I felt like it.

            I constantly suggest weekend activities, and active, free events because I get a little tired of the constant baking when I’m trying to eat better. What happens? They go “uh huh yeah that sounds ok, OR WE COULD MAKE CAKE TUESDAY NIGHT!” It sometimes feels a little self-absorbed and inconsiderate. But even with that, I love these friends and want to continue hanging out with them, but I think for balance I need more friends with similar schedules to mine. Easier said than done, but definitely something I’m working on. Hope it gets better for you too.

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            If your friends won’t meet you when you’re available even once a month because they can’t take a few hours on a Saturday away from the husband for brunch, how is that a meaningful/useful friendship for you? “Meet with me on my terms or I don’t want to see you at all” – what? Talk about not cool.

            I’m not sure why you feel like you need to twist yourself in knots for people who won’t even attempt to meet you halfway.

          • @OC – I’m perfectly capable of setting work-life boundaries, I just set those boundaries so I can have time to sleep and unwind instead of socializing (introvert here). I cannot function well working full-time and then trying to have weeknight plans because I need 9 hours of sleep a night and I need a minimum of two hours from the time I walk in the door of my house until I can fall asleep (unless I’ve gotten to the point of incredible exhaustion, which isn’t healthy and which I try to avoid). Even if I had a strictly 9-5 job (which Big Law isn’t and never will be) I can’t see myself socializing on a regular basis on M-Thurs nights. And the vast majority of my friends (who are mostly engineers, consultants and in business) don’t socialize regularly on weeknights either. I’m actually surprised by how many people here seem to think going out with friends on weeknights is normal.

          • Anonattorney :

            @LH – completely agree. I don’t do any socializing during the week, unless it’s for networking purposes. I save my fund friend time for the weekend or the rare weekday lunch.

          • To LH –

            I think part of it is that different people have different needs when it comes to amount of sleep, unwinding time, etc. I get 6-7 hours of sleep most nights, and can get by on less if I need to. And although I’m typically home a few hours before bedtime I can also go from front door to sound asleep in 20 minutes.

            That said, I don’t make weeknight plans often because I’d also rather unwind by reading or watching Netflix or spending time with my SO (we live together) than going somewhere after a long day.

          • This is why all my friends were big law associates when I used to be one. I’m not saying I advise that course. But that’s what happened to me.

          • SoCalAtty :

            I’m in the same boat. Weeknights are just a no-go for me, and I’m in-house now! I also participate in a sport that takes a big chunk of my weekends. The friends that have stayed around totally understand, and we see each other when we can – brunch is a big one, or late lunches on Saturday / Sunday. Lunches during the week if I am in their area or they are in mine.

          • Anonymama :

            Honestly, if you see them that rarely, and then decline because of cost in the one time in 6 months when you were actually going to meet up with them, and also are earning a big-law salary, regardless of student loans, I would say the money issue is really an excuse for you and you actually just don’t really want to spend time with them. Or, at least, it is so far down on your list of priorities that it has become obvious enough to be annoying or hurtful to them.

            It’s fine if you are okay with your friendships with these people winding down, people obviously grow apart, but don’t blame them for being unreasonable about your budgeting when it is really about something else entirely.

      • Sadly, this is why I couldn’t have a social life that involved people outside my law firm until I quit the law firm.

        • Me too. I worked long hours so the only people around to have sex with were other attorneys who were not interested in a commitment. After 3 years of meaningless sex in conference rooms with self centered aholes, I left.

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        If you’re flaking on a regular basis because of work stuff, then *also* declining additional activities based on financial concerns, I can see where they may be feeling like you’re just making stuff up to blow them off. Even my husband gives me the side-eye at times when I have to cancel or avoid making plans with him for work-related reasons, and he lives with me and sees me on the laptop with the giant file spread out across our coffee table and knows I’m legitimately doing work.

        I think it’s actually hardest for acquaintances (really, friends of H who don’t know me that well) who are white collar (but non-law) professionals, because they tend to take the “how different could it *possibly* be from my industry” view and are more prone to thinking I’m exaggerating my hours, since “not even ::insert title of their boss’s boss here:: works that many hours/that late at night/on the weekends/etc.”

        My guess is that the weirdness that you’re getting from them has more to do with your general unavailability, and less to do with the money stuff.

    • I’m always a little surprised when one of my friends who earns more than me says she can’t afford to do something, but you know what? None of my business. People have different expenses and priorities. Someone who makes more than me but has a higher rent/student loans/is madly maxing out her 401K/etc might very well not have the disposable income for a given activity. Or even if she does, that may just not be what they want to prioritize.

      If they’re snarky about that then I don’t think they sound like very nice people. But you could try declining and not giving a reason. “Ooh, sounds fun, I would love to but I just can’t. But hey, would you like to get together for free concert in the park/go on a hike/visit Museum X on free admission day?”

      • long time lurker :

        Yes I say I cant afford things often. When people deflect or challenge me based on perceived income, I make a joke about coming from a long line of cheapskates and deflect.

      • Honestly – my solution is to be open with my friends about this. I make more than double what most of them do, but I also am the only one thus far to have gone to grad school and I have debt in the high 5 figures while they don’t have any. They know I make a lot more than they do, but anytime they joke about it, I’ll make a remark like “yeah, so it’s like [X low number] after loan payments, woohoo!” I’m not saying being open is at all necessary or appropriate in all situations, but if these are friends with whom you also talk about relationships, sex, politics, and all other “taboo” topics with, why not?

      • Anonattorney :

        I think someone above said this, but I think if people phrased it as “not in my budget this month” vs. “I can’t afford it,” it would go over better. Sure, there are things that I can afford, but I don’t do them because they’re not in my budget.

        • Senior Attorney :

          Yes. You’d be surprised how it grates on people when a person whom they know to have a high (or higher-than-them) income says “I can’t afford it” to something like an invitation to a dinner out or a show. “It’s not in my budget” goes over so so so much better.

          And also? I think it’s better for my own psyche when I phrase it like that. It makes it feel more like a choice (which, in fact, it is) and less like “poor me, I can’t do that cool thing.”

    • I am the highest earning person among my peers, who are almost all from the same college cohort. I got into the workforce right before graduation, bought a tiny apartment which is over 70% paid now and a car (though I trashed it recently in a bad accident).
      Many of my friends have still not found jobs or are doing OK but not great so I do avoid talking about money except to the 2 very close ones. I too am trying to save up money to finish paying off my debt, and to furnish my apartment. I have been in it for 3.5 years, and yet all I have is my bed, basic (think plastic kit) temporary chairs and no mirrors. I have no couch, no TV, no shelves etc.
      When with friends, I don’t talk budgeting, I pick inexpensive places to eat (none of us drinks alcohol so the bill is never shocking), and every couple months I hold a brunch at my place and it’s a potluck.
      Also, I unconsciously select activities and places (and even outfits) depending on which subgroup of friends I am with: work colleagues, unemployed college friends, sister’s friends, well-off college friends etc.
      One thing: never be ashamed of how much you make. We go through a lot, we come back home late to a cold meal and starving cat, so we deserve to be rewarded (not that the less fortunate peers don’t work as hard or are less deserving)

  2. San Antonio? :

    What’s the weather like right now? I am going there for a conference next week and wondering whether I will need to wear tights with skirts and dresses or whether I can go bare. It’s a biz casual conference so I’ll wear tights if it’s cold but won’t do sheer hose because it would be too formal.

    • I think weather.com can help you with that.

      • I think the question was fair. I went to a tropical place in January, forgetting that it gets into the lo 60s at night, and even though it is near the equator, winds + not that high day time temperature means that it is much colder than what 60 sounds like when you’re coming from 19. So i thought i was going to be living in beach dresses during vacay but actually needed long sleeves and sweaters.

        • weather.com also displays information on overnight lows and wind chill. I honestly didn’t mean to be snarky with the weather.com suggestion–it’s just that how a person dresses for a certain temperature is so subjective, particularly if it’s in the 40-70 range, which I imagine San Antonio would be.

        • Yeah, I have to agree with Pink. For us, the wild card is humidity. If it’s low 70s and dry, it feels completely different from 70s and humid. The other thing here is that when it’s damp and cold, it feels a lot colder than the temperature. I think a person in that area can also tell you if the weather is really changeable at that time of year (like here now where it can go from 50s to 70s in the blink of an eye).

      • +1

    • Home of the Miss United States Pageant :

      How much time will you actually be spending outdoors?

      It’s wonderful in the daytime, high 60s and low 70s, but it can be cool first thing in the morning and evening. If you’re walking several blocks to the convention center each morning, you might want tights. But if you’re just going from hotel garage to convention center garage (the typical commute pattern for many Texans) you wouldn’t need them.

      You may, however, want them for the sure-to-be frigid convention rooms. We LOVE our air conditioning down here.

      • +1 for the Miss Congeniality reference. Although now I have “she’s beauty and she’s grace…she’s Miss United States” stuck in my head :P

        • Home of the Miss United States Pageant :

          In retrospect, I’m disappointed in myself for not suggesting that OP reschedule her visit for April 25, when it’s not too hot, not too cold, and all she’d need is a light jacket.

      • Thanks! I’ll be spending most of my time indoors but wasn’t thinking about frigid conference rooms.

    • Wildkitten :
  3. Two Cents :

    Boston ladies – LK Bennett has a store at Copley!! And they have an amazing end of season sale going on right now (all final sale though).

    Let the wallet depletion begin. :)

    • I’m nervous about what it would do to my budget if I had an LK Bennett near me I tried to try on some shoes I’d been stalking for awhile (the Dawn Court Shoe in dark red) when I was in NYC last winter and I think I’d just been walking too much by then and nothing fit. Either that or LK Bennett just doesn’t fit me. But it would be nice to know!

    • I have never heard of this, but am usually a big fan of British brands. Can’t wait to check it out!

  4. Orangerie :

    Quick personal finance poll: what percentage of your 401ks are allocated to cash, bonds, and equity/equity funds? How risk tolerant/averse are you WRT retirement savings?

    • Former Partner, Now In-House :

      I’m sure most people know this, but I learned the hard way in my early 30s, so here goes …

      Tax exempt bonds should NOT be in a 401(k) or any other tax-advantaged account. You accept a lower rate of return on tax exempt bonds in exchange for not paying taxes on them. But you don’t pay taxes on returns in 401(k) and similar accounts anyway, so that’s where you should put investments that make a higher return than tax exempt bonds.

      I may not have explained this using the exact correct terminology.

    • This is really a risk aversion question, as you noted, and the answer for me is that I am not very risk averse, at my age and stage of life. Might get there, but not now.

      I am 100% equities (well prob a smidge less than that due to remainder cash). I believe in passive index investing for the long term. I don’t have anything in actively-managed funds.

      I have a lot of working years ahead of me. The yield curve scares me right now. There are other ways to preserve capital besides bonds. There’s a reason that PIMCO saw record outflows in the past year…the smart money isn’t in bonds, so I don’t think I should be either.

      Personally, cash is not a great bet for long term retirement savings (negative post-inflation returns), but there might be reasons based on one’s specific situation (need the money soon, for instance) to be in cash. Not for me though.

    • Anonattorney :

      Curious to hear responses. Mine need to be cleaned up: 3 accounts, all with different tax advantages, all with different asset allocations. One is 100% equities, one 88% equities and 12% bonds, one 60% equities and 39.7% bonds and .3% cash. 20+ years to retirement.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      My Roth IRA is in a target retirement fund and set at 90% stocks and 10% bonds. I chose the target retirement fund so that I wouldn’t need to try and figure it out myself.

    • ExcelNinja :

      I have a target date fund 35 years in the future (ugh) and it’s 90% stocks and 10% bonds.

    • DowntownBK :

      I’m 29 and have my 401(k) and Roth IRA both in ~90% passive equity index funds / ETFs (split approximately equally between domestic and international, with maybe 30% of the international exposure in EM equities) and 10% in bonds (passive index funds / ETFs , and in the case of the Roth IRA, TIPS). Being in the finance field has reinforced the idea that it is nearly impossible to time the market and the fact that I have no edge in picking successful active managers, so I only invest in passive indices in all of my accounts and focus on minimizing fees. I will very slowly increase my exposure to fixed income over time, but will likely enter retirement with over 60% in equities.

  5. Anon for this :

    Hi all,

    I’m currently litigating at a nonprofit and am contemplating switching away from litigation to policy work (also in the nonprofit world). Has anyone had experience making that transition, and if so, how did you market your litigation skills in the policy realm? Ideally I’d find a policy job with a legal bent, but I’m also considering policy work that doesn’t necessarily involve the practice of law. For context, I’ve been practicing for about 5 years and have only done litigation. I enjoy many aspects of litigation but overall find it fairly stressful, especially with emergencies and unpredictability (I also have a relatively heavy and active caseload right now), so am hoping that making a switch to policy will be positive for my work-life balance. Thanks in advance!

    • I have no experience in litigation but I have worked in policy and I just want to caution it doesn’t necessarily free you from emergencies and last minute working all night depending on what issues/level you’re at. because see: Congress is bananapants and has no schedule :-P

    • AttiredAttorney :

      I’ll second the policy world not being free from emergencies and last minute all nighters, even at the state policy level. See: part-time state legislatures with short calendars.

  6. This dress is awesome…if you are more petite or short waisted. If you look at Pat’s models, they are always little people. (That said, I love their jackets, and wear my Down Sweater Vest religiously!)

    Nearly all non-technical clothing made by Patagonia looks great on their tiny models. I am tall and lanky. This dress would be highly inappropriate on me in most settings, and certainly would not be what I’d take for a one-size fits-all-dress (too much cleavage!).

    • Agree. Patagucci’s outerwear usually works for me, but their casual clothing tends to run short and boxy.

    • I actually have this dress. I am very small (5’0″) and the dress is short and very low cut. Except for a swimsuit coverup, I have to wear a cami underneath. It is very casual. I had thought I could wear it to work, but not so. Maybe in black it would work, not in the aqua-teal I got. That said, I like it for casual wear even though I’m usually a jeans and t shirt person.

  7. This dress looks like a swimsuit coverup to me.

    • I kind of agree, but I also kind of like it anyway. But only in the darker blue, which is out of stock in my size, so yay I don’t have to buy it.

    • Believe it or not my sister-in-law chose this dress for the female attendant in her wedding. I had serious doubts, as it is described as a good dress for after yoga. However, it is cuter in real person, and it can be dressed up or down. It is rather low cut, though.

    • Wildkitten :

      The woman in the article pulls it off, but I couldn’t: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/07/15/travel/15SILICON2.html

    • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

      Agreed! It is not something I would ever wear in a professional context in my current profession. Perhaps my answer would be different if I worked at a Lululemon. Looking the NY Times picture, I don’t think she manages to make it look professional. It still looks like a beach coverup. I would not wear it to the office and I would not wear it while traveling for work. I have run into far too many senior colleagues in airports to travel in a dress like this.

      • Kat posts things meant for the weekend on the weekend open thread.

        • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

          Except the underlying NY Times article to which she referred is about Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who frequently travel and how to pack/travel like them.

          It’s not my first time at the rodeo and I’m familiar with the weekend open thread posting choices but I’m still entitled to my opinion. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t wear the dress on a weekend either.

          • hoola hoopa :

            Agreed. I made a similar comment above. I assume that Kat was recommending it for pleasure travel, but I was referring to the NYT article which seemed to be describing business travel.

  8. small firm woes :

    I’m not expecting any sympathy for this, but I just need to vent my frustrations with the partners at my small firm. They couldn’t review my work this week due to their busy day drinking schedule, so things went late, and somehow its my fault. GRRR

    • This happens with my boss. We will both say that we need to discuss X before the end of the day. She will then find 2 times during the day to come into my office and spend > 30-60 minutes telling me a story about her kids/husband. If I say, “Hey, wanna talk about X now,” she rolls her eyes and disappears. Then she wants to discuss X after COB because SHE was planning to stay late.

      After several years, I still have not figured out how to deal with it.

    • On behalf of all day drinkers and partners, I apologize.

      That said, associates will always be blamed for things that aren’t necessarily their fault. Gravitational forces, $h!t rolling downhill, etc.

      As unpleasant as it may seem, sometimes you just have be your partner’s babysitter and nag until (s)he does the thing (s)he’s supposed to do. I’ve worked for people like this, and the best coping mechanism I found was to treat them like babies.

      • Oh god. I was a legal assistant to someone who expected us to “babysit” her and “manage” her. She was also a micromanager and it is literally impossible to go from someone who must be obsequious while being balled out about a how quickly you’re copying comments to smiling and telling your boss, hey! you should get back to work on that important project you’re supposed to be working on.

        If someone needs their subordinates to manage them, they need to not yell at their subordinates — they need to make it clear that they respect them enough that attempts to get boss back on track won’t result in firing.

        Also, what they actually need is an adderall prescription. Grow up. Your the boss. Do your work.

    • I have had a meeting with my boss rescheduled every single day this week, and now rescheduled for next week, for legitimate reasons but it is still SO frustrating.

    • If my boss and I have a scheduled meeting in the afternoon, I have to go into his office in the morning, right before lunch, right after lunch, and then about an hour before the meeting to make sure that it’s still actually going to happen. It’s really annoying.

  9. hoola hoopa :

    Did anyone else read the article? It was anthropologically fascinating. Comments were rich, too.

  10. I need some advice from the hive! I am a 30ish woman program director. I have a male colleague, same age as me, and hired at essentially the same time and at the same level. He focuses more on external communications, and I focus on running the internal side of the house. (Which generally fits our skill sets. And I’m generally okay with except for this nagging feeling that, of course, the man goes out and gets all the publicity and field connections and the woman stays inside and takes care of the nitty gritty details.)

    The current problem is this: he just sent me a proposal for a conference presentation in which he plans on presenting a project our agency just completed. Fine. What really irks me is that he put in his bio that he oversaw the project. Which just isn’t true. I got his input a couple of places in the process, but I had decision-making authority and managed the entire thing.

    So my question is this: Do I push it with him? I know our boss knows I managed it, but should I push to get public credit in our field? He did write the abstract for the presentation, but should I push to be the one who travels and presents it? (I am good at doing presentations, it isn’t like I couldn’t do it.) Or am I over reacting? Thanks for any advice or tips!

    • Wildkitten :

      You should push this one, imho.

    • Why did he write this abstract and not you in the first place? Is that a traditional part of his externally focussed duties? Why not submit the abstract yourself?

    • Former Partner, Now In-House :

      Why aren’t you presenting it? Or at least co-presenting it with him?

      I would definitely pursue this, but I’m not sure how.

      • Ha ha – agreed! I too am wondering how best to phrase this. Something along the lines of thanking him for bringing the conference to your attention and writing the first draft of the abstract?

      • Thanks so much for confirming my gut reaction. His job does include most of the official agency writing – but it was my idea to present on this topic at this conference in the first place. So, any tips out there on words to use to ask my boss if I can present instead? We can’t afford to send both of us to the conference.

        • Whhhhhhaaaat? It was your idea to present??

          You would be the most appropriate person to present on the topic as you led on the project, including responding to questions, etc.

        • hellskitchen :

          This might be a know your office situation but I’d suggest as not putting it to your boss a decision s/he needs to make. I think you should act as if you were planning to go along. Could you say something like “X sent me a draft abstract for it but I don’t think it fully captures the topic well so I plan to polish it – it will be easier since I led the project and I am more familiar with it. I think I should just go and present this at the conference myself so that I can answer follow up questions accurately. Let me know if you’d like to weigh in on my presentation.”

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          Pretend you were the one who was supposed to pretend the whole time, and ask Boss to clear up colleague’s “confusion” over who’s attending.

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            *Pretend you were the one who was supposed to PRESENT*

            Wow Friday.

          • hellskitchen :

            This. KKH says it better than I did.

          • Haha this sounds like one of George Costanza’s schemes.

          • This is awesome advice. Thanks so much!

          • Don’t forget to thank colleague nicely for his help in assembling the first draft of the abstract, which you will now go on to review and get into its final use-able form.

  11. just Karen :

    I can’t share this with anyone in real life yet (other than DH), but apparently I am pregnant. This is awesome and terrifying and I am not totally convinced it is true, but four tests all said the same thing, and my doctor’s office doesn’t even do a confirmatory test b/c they said the tests are so accurate now… so fingers crossed that this cluster of cells turns into a healthy baby. I am so thankful to this community for others sharing their stories of the mixed feelings they felt when they got a positive – I knew I would likely have a scared/oh sh!t/overwhelmed component to the excitement/joy, which kept me from freaking out. No idea how we will deal with finances and child care, but I keep telling myself that less competent people than my husband and I do it all the time. And on to the roller coaster…

    • Congrats! It’s definitely a unique, wonderful and terrifying feeling to see those two lines on the test!

    • I’m nearly 12 weeks along and I still don’t believe it. Aside from some bloating and going up a bra size or two, I don’t “feel” pregnant. But I know I am — have heard the heartbeat twice now. Now I need to start figuring out a game plan for a bigger apartment, childcare, etc. We had been TTC but I still don’t even feel overjoyed because it just doesn’t feel real yet. I know exactly how you feel.

      Enjoy your little secret!

    • Congrats! :-)

    • Congratulations! It can be a fun secret for those months before you want to share the news with the world.

    • Congratulations!

      My first thought when I found out I was pregnant was “hooray!” and the second was “oh god what have I done?!” It’s totally normal to alternate between the two, far into (an beyond) your pregnancy, IMHO.

      My daugter is a toddler now and I couldn’t imagine life without her.

    • Congrats! I had the same excited and freaked out thoughts after I took the test. Well, tests, because I had to go out and buy the fancy one that says “pregnant” before I’d believe it. My little one is turning a week old tomorrow. :)

    • just Karen :

      Thank you everyone!

  12. Can't Reply to Hoola Hoopa So Posting Here :

    Favorite part of the article: “As you approach the X-ray belt, put your shoes in the first bin, your laptop and liquids in the second bin, and your carry-on bag in the last bin. This way, when you’re waiting for them on the other side of the metal detector, you’ll be able to put your shoes back on first, then grab your laptop and liquids and, finally, return them to your bag. “If you do the bag first, you end up being the person who holds up the line,” she said. (Ditto to those who still insist on wearing belts to the airport.)”

    My husband and I have had some *very serious* discussions about (what I view as) his complete refusal to consider the amount of time we waste in airport security lines and the (in my mind) scary risk that the longer you stand around, the greater the possibility that some uniformed person will pull you aside into a dark room from which your family will never be able to find you. (OK, we travel a lot internationally and his first passport is not blue with a gold eagle on it, like mine. Plus, the intangible value of my blue/gold eagle passport in this regard has dropped precipitously over the last couple decades.)

    I can get in and out of a security line in 30 seconds or less. Everything goes in my bag, which goes through the machine. Shoes go first and slip on first on the other end. And I am outta there. He has a belt, tie-on shoes, some change in this pocket and some change in that pocket, watch, phone, wallet. Why, why, why can I not convert him to the idea of putting all that crap into his backpack/bag instead of those time-sucking little plastic bins?

    There is also a great scene about this in “Up In The Air,” with George Clooney, which also has failed to convert my husband.

    • That would make me craaaaaaaazy. I usually travel alone for business but every once in a while, if I’m with a slower colleague, it is all I can do to not leave them in the dust (which I do sometimes in the guise of running for a coffee/to the ladies).

    • I love that scene in Up in the Air where he explains how much time you waste by checking luggage & who to get behind in the security line. So hilarious and so true.

    • The part of Up in the Air that always hit WAY too close to home for me (when I was travelling every week) was when he’s exiting the terminal and everyone else has people waiting to greet them, but he just walks by alone. It was always sad to me that (Love Actually style) the airport exit became annoying rather than a beautiful emotional reunion place.

      • Former Partner, Now In-House :

        Agreed. This was how I felt when trials ended. My trial team partners would be so happy to go home and see their family members, and I would walk into an empty house.

        My favorite scene from the movie, though, is in the bar when Vera Farmiga explains what you look for in a partner when you are a professional woman in your . . . shrug . . . “your age.” It reminded me of the time I watched “Broadcast News” with my SIL, who was in her early 30s and a banker at the time, whereas I was fresh out of college. I asked her why Holly Hunter put down the phone, unplugged it and cried for precisely two minutes, wiped her eyes and started working again. SIL smiled knowlingly and told me I would figure it out when I was older.

        • Life is such a matter of perspective. I’m a third year associate, and when I read this post, I mostly just felt jealousy that you’ve done *multiple* trials.

      • Same here! Frequent traveller and nearly always meeting a driver or taking the bus to my parked car.

        Occasionally I will take a flight home with a colleague who has a spouse meeting them at the bag claim (unfortunately I cannot get away with carry-ons alone) and there is always this awkward moment when the colleague and spouse reunite and I try to politely walk away to give them time alone… I’m actually 100% fine being 100% single but it drives me crazy the way people who don’t know me well (like the spouses) look at me with pity or go on and on about how “someday I will find that special someone.” Cringe.

    • My husband almost refuses to fly with me because of how ‘mean’ I am in airports. I travel a lot for work, I have a system, and I do not do well with people who are just.so.unorganized at the airport. I mean really, you don’t know by now to take off your shoes and not take liquids through a security line? Ugghhh.

    • My SO did not travel much before we got together, and our first few adventures through airports together were brutal. Finally I convinced him to let me just be in charge. I pack all our bags, and give him one pocket in the carryon with his wallet/boarding pass/snacks, and he lets me lead the way. He wasn’t thrilled at first, but after we made it to the gate in record speed, he happily hands everything over to me.

      • Can't Reply :

        Do you make housecalls?

      • SoCalAtty :

        ME TOO! If I don’t pack for the husband, he inevitably forgets something…usually something important. I tried to make him lists, help him out, and get him to participate…still wasn’t so good. I’ve abandoned trying to make him help, so I just pack everything, tell him where the important stuff is, and it is much better.

        He gets to carry them and unpack after!

        • Senior Attorney :

          Honest question: Why wouldn’t you just let him suffer the consequences of his forgetfulness, rather than take over his packing? Isn’t that just a tiny bit infantilizing? I have been there, done that, and at the end of the day I’d rather be at dinner with a guy with dinner jacket on top, jeans on the bottom, than have him wearing the dress pants because I’d taken over his personal packing responsibilities.

          I know this sounds snarky, but it isn’t meant to be. I just think you need to tread lightly when it comes to taking over basic life tasks like this for another person. If for no other reason than that it’s easy for him to start to expect it in other areas.

          • I agree with this. Also in a totally non-snarky way. I already pack for me and three kids. My adult husband can pack for himself and accept the consequences.

            He does drive me batty though. He is incapable of keeping things contained in the bags we are bringing. He’s always adding bags. So, we will have the carefully packed, minimal bags for me and the kids, then his bag, a couple tote bags, and a random stack of junk he just had to bring with him and couldn’t fit in his bag!!! We don’t fly a lot for family travel, so he figures he can just put whatever in the car.

          • In our situation, he gives me a pile of all his stuff he is taking, and I pack it in the bags. If I happen to notice he’s missing something, I’ll ask about it. It works because one person is in charge of consolidating and optimizing space in our luggage, and I know where to put the liquids to most efficiently get through security, and that kind of thing. Packing and traveling is my strength though. When it comes to grocery shopping, for example, I fully expect a detailed list from SO because that is SO’s strength (and how am I supposed to know why we need three different types of apples).

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      My dad has this problem. Other than the airport (where he also has this problem as he has travelled a lot), we don’t have metal detectors here, so lo and behold when he travelled to the US for the first time a couple of years ago, he somehow couldn’t believe that if your belt/glasses/pillbox/pen/phone/keys beep in one place and they make you take them off, they WILL beep in the next place. And it’s not enough to just take off the offending item, if you’re still wearing like three other items – just because they can see you’re wearing a belt does not mean you don’t have to take it off, so he would always have to go through like seven times.

      I’m one of those 30-seconds people, but then I also don’t usually wear belts/glasses with metallic frames etc to travel and everything else is in my bag. But security queue faffing drives me insane – it is totally understandable if you are travelling for the first time, but how many people really are!?

    • I hear you on the husband front. Mine doesn’t travel for work, so he just does not understand the importance of the order. That being said, I always go shoes, travel purse/toiletries, laptop, carry on. Shoes go on first, take purse and open it so that then I can put the laptop in it as soon as it comes, then pull the carry onto the floor and throw my toiletries in the outside pocket.

      I actually think going through security is one of the only places in the business world where it’s easier to be a woman. Your phone/change/etc is already in your purse, you’re more likely to have slip on shoes, and less likely to wear a belt.

      • That is basically my system, to, but I have one of those special TSA appproved clamshell laptop carriers to I don’t even have to take it out of the bag.

      • ExcelNinja :

        My DH does not hustle for anyone, including me. Some things are not worth a divorce but believe me when I say I am deep breathing and counting to ten :) Thank goodness we now both have pre-check so the whole belt/shoes/liquids/laptop nonsense is done away with.

    • People with multiple bins drive me kind of crazy because they take up all the table space and I can’t begin to organize my stuff. I’ve always put everything in one bin and never had a problem with it.

      • Whenever I’ve tried this, I’ve been told “laptop in its own bin”. Grabbing two from the start is less hassle/holdup than having to scramble for a second when you are at the front of the line with all your things in one.

        • Two wouldn’t bug me, but three is definitely pushing it! I still put my liquids/gels in a plastic baggie but I’ve heard that’s not necessary anymore?

        • Anonymous :

          I no longer have to take my laptop/liquids out or shoes off because I have pre-check, but when I did have to (or when I hit the rare airport without a Pre lane), I would grab two bins but leave them nested. I’d combine my liquids, shoes, and laptop and just set them in the top bin for the time being. This takes up less space so that other people have room to start getting set up, and there’s no rule that laptop needs its own bin before it even goes into the machine. Then when it came time for the final push into the machine, I’d lift up the top bin, take my laptop out of it, and put it in the empty bottom bin. I’d also wait to put my rollaboard on the belt until this moment (especially at DFW where the tables are not connected to the X ray belt, so you would have to life and transfer everything anyway)

          • Anonymous :

            Oops, that should be lift, not life.

            And now that I think about it, I think for the last several years (prior to Pre) I still only used one bin. The bins are big enough that I’d put my shoes and liquids on the side of of the laptop. TSA never cared as long as the laptop had nothing under or over it.

      • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

        I always have multiple bins – one for my laptop, one for my shoes (no, I’m not putting my coat and my dirty shoes in the same bin), and one for my purse. It makes it much easier to get out of the other side quickly because it’s more organized. I travel weekly for work and until I got TSA pre-check (meaning my laptop doesn’t come out), I had to put the laptop in a separate bin. Pity the soul who failed to follow that direction.

        • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

          Oops, purse and coat in that last bin. The third one. I kind of think the laptop bin doesn’t count against anyone’s overall bin count.

        • A question about TSA pre-check – after paying the initial application fee, is there also an annual fee?

          • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

            Not currently but who knows what will happen in the future. TSA has opened the door to a larger number of people for pre-check. Previously it was based on specific airlines and specific flyers who flew frequently/had elite status with particular airlines.

            There is also a program called Global Entry that is an expedited customs/border clearance program. There is a fee for that ($100 enrollment and it lasts five years).

          • Charmed Girl :

            Global Entry and Pre Check– Are they actually worth it? I have a trip planned to South Africa in May, but no other international trips planned at this point. While I travel a fair amount for work, it’s mostly on the train vs. flying. I probably fly 2-5 times a year.

            The friend I am traveling with is interested in these, but I’m not seeing the cost/ benefit lean towards benefit.

            Thoughts?

        • Hate to break it to you, but I don’t think the bins are all that clean whether your shoes are in them or not.

          • Another MZ Wallace Fan :

            Gah! I don’t even want to think about that because I can’t control that. At least I can keep my own shoes off my own coat. :)

  13. so incredibly anon for this :

    My organization has been having some serious financial issues. So far leadership has assured people that there aren’t going to be layoffs. Well, due to a somewhat random and VERY unintended series of consequences (stepped into an unoccupied conference room to take care of something requiring quiet, which is normal in my open-plan office; executives were meeting in an adjoining conference room; raised voices–but not conversational-level voices–can be heard through the door connecting them) I now know that layoffs are not only on the table, but that specific people are being discussed. As soon as I realized what I was hearing, I got the f**k out of the room I was in, but I feel sick to my stomach and I don’t know what to do. I only overheard maybe 5-10 seconds of dialogue, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions about what I heard, but I just don’t even know what to do with this information. For reasons I’m not going to go into, I’m not particularly worried about the status of my own position. But I just can’t even focus on work right now, I’m so shaken.

    • I’m not sure that you CAN do anything. I’d definitely keep my mouth shut. As you said, you only heard 5-10 seconds, and taking something out of context can be very dangerous. I say wait & see what happens.

      • so incredibly anon for this :

        I definitely wasn’t planning to tell anyone. I guess I meant “I don’t know what to do” more in terms of “How do I process this information when I can’t talk about it with anyone.”

        • You don’t. Having this type of information has been, for me, the absolute worst thing about being a manager. Sometimes these things move on a relatively slow timeline and seeing the people that you will be laying off every day, hearing about their kids, chatting in the halls, etc. becomes nearly unbearable. I’ve had many sleepless nights over stuff like this.

    • ExcelNinja :

      I used to do the costing out of the list of names in an old job. What would help me be at peace (especially upon seeing a friend’s name on the list) was telling myself that I don’t really have any real, actionable information, since the list changed every hour of every day, and that I couldn’t control the outcome (at least not without changing the list and risking 2 people’s jobs – mine and the friend’s – if they ever found out). I don’t know if that will help you or not…sorry you had to hear that.

      • “The list changed every hour of every day”

        This is SO utterly true. There is very high likelihood that the bad news, if and when it comes, will no longer match what you heard in passing. The best thing is to regard it as unconfirmed speculation and get on with your daily routine, both professional and private.

    • You should get your own resume together. Even if you survive the reaping, do you want to work on a sinking ship? Consider it good advanced intelligence that things are worse than people are saying.

    • so incredibly anon for this :

      Thanks for the responses, ladies. I’m feeling…not better, but more capable of looking leadership in the face when I show up to work Monday morning.

      • Meg Murry :

        It is also possible layoffs are also Plan C, D or E and they are simply running the numbers to see how much layoffs could cost/save. Remember that during bad times (and even good) any message coming from management should have the words “right now” appended to them – as in “layoffs aren’t on the table (right now)”. I still wouldn’t tell anyone you work with about the exact conversation you overheard, but I think you would be OK in reminding any of your coworkers about to make a major life/financial change like buying a house or signing an expensive long term lease that now might not be such a stable time.

  14. Ciao, pues :

    will someone please tell me that i don’t “owe” my current crappy employer any length of loyalty just because i’m out on maternity leave on their dime? i know this, but i need it pounded into me by internet stranger-friends. please and thank you.

    • Ciao, pues :

      alternatively, any advice for job searching while out on leave and eventually resigning after a leave? really worried i’m going to burn bridges/ p!ss people off.

    • OCAssociate :

      You don’t! You worked there long enough to accrue maternity leave benefits, which you’re using now. If you hadn’t earned them, they wouldn’t have given them to you.

      I promise, your employer is not going to be loyal to you just because you return from mat leave.

      Congrats on your baby!

    • You earned your leave before you took it. You don’t have to earn it again.

      Also, don’t worry about burning bridges. It’s better not to come back at all than to come back for a very short period of time and then quit. I’d just make sure to keep a good relationship with whoever will serve as your references when you try to move on, especially if you don’t want them to mention to any potential employers that you’ve been out on leave.

    • hellskitchen :

      You don’t. I looked for a new job while I was on maternity leave and felt no qualms about quitting my then-employer on my second week back to work. Not only did I earn my leave by doing my own work well but also by covering for various other colleagues who went out on their maternity leaves over the years.

  15. Paging clerk from this morning :

    Sydney Bristow here. I have a similar amount of student loan debt as you. Look at an amortization schedule to see how much of your loans would be forgiven. I was looking at close to $70,000 being forgiven if I paid the minimums. If I understand correctly, that money is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which could mean you’d owe quite a bit in taxes.

    Personally, I’d pay extra while working at the biglaw job while building up an emergency fund. I’d also try to not let regular living expenses creep up too much if I was planning to only stay in biglaw for a few years.

  16. motherhood related thread warning.

    I’m posting here because there are other professional mother who I know will be honest with me. Do you have friends that you see frequently or at least routinely? I really don’t, and I’m wondering if I’m kind of a looser loner or if that’s normal.

    I get plenty of social time overall, but I’m really missing that ‘on call’ friendship, where you can easily call each other up on a Saturday morning and make casual plans, then talk about whatever interests both of you.

    My husband and my mother are my best friends, truly. I see them frequently but mostly we’re busy doing something rather than chatting or having fun.

    I had two close friends who remained close after school, but they both moved away around the time I married and became pregnant with my first child. It’s been several years now. They are settled and unlikely to move back, and are in very different life phases (and time zones), so we have drifted. Phone tag and an annual lunch date can only bridge so much.

    I’ve made about a half dozen new friends, but they have all moved eventually. All of them.

    I have developed office friendships, but for various reasons those will stay office friendships.

    I have made “mommy friends”, but I find that playdates really don’t facilitate actual friendships. It’s hard to have a solid adult conversation while watching the kids and usually it feels like the only thing we really have in common is that we both have kids approx the same age.

    I’ve considered joining a book club or something off meetup, but I fear I’ll only end up with more shallow friendships. I vacillate between thinking that I don’t have enough interest in more shallow friendships to invest my limited time and energy, and that deep friendships start as shallow friendships so I have to keep trying. It feels so futile since the rare friendship that does develop have ended with a relocation.

    Is that just my life now? Is that just what it’s like when you work full time and have a couple of kids? Am I missing something obvious? Have I turned into a recluse?

    • I hear you, and I’ve definitely heard from others that this is an issue as you get older and move away from college friends.

      I joined a meetup in my area and it has been really great. The organizer always picks really fun stuff (like trivia, paint nite, knitting, jewelry making) where there is something to do while you chat/meet people, and I’m *almost* to the point of feeling like I can call one of the girls up to hang out without a structured activity. But, I hear your point that if you’re busy it’s hard to turn these into “real” friendships. I also think I got lucky because they organizer is super energetic and seems to have a lot of time to plan things.

      I’m just more shy by nature, and other than something like meetup where you have something structured to do/talk about, I think I would never get the courage to actually meet people. There is a girl at the gym I talk to occasionally, for example, but I would feel so weird/nervous being like, ‘hey, let’s grab a coffee sometime’.

    • My husband is my only close friend, but I have always been a loner, so it’s not a big deal to me. Almost all of our other friends moved away over a period of a few months right after I had a kid, so pretty much all of my recreational time is spent either alone or with him (our kid is too young for us to really do stuff with so I am not including him).

      Sometimes I would like to make new friends, but it sounds like such a chore– like dating but worse somehow because there isn’t a standard/normalized way to start up platonic relationships.

    • Anonymous :

      I hear you. I have a BigLaw job, a toddler and no friends locally. I moved to a new city after graduation where a couple of my friends live, and I have seen them a total of maybe 5 times in 2 years. Our collective schedules are just too crazy (we’ve probably cancelled 20 lunches during the week because one of us has had something come up), and between working most weekends, trying to do chores, being exhausted and spending time with my kid, I have no time to see them. I try to call long distance friends a couple to times per week on my way home from work. We never planned to live in this city long term (and will be moving in 6 months), so I didn’t want to spend my limited energy making new temporary friends.

      • It really is a relief to hear others are experiencing the same thing. I suppose it makes sense that women who would make good friends are just as busy as I am.

    • Olivia Pope :

      Do meetup! You won’t make new deep friendships without them being shallow first. Most of my closest friends don’t leave near me and the few I have left will probably all move in the next five years. I am committed to making new close friends.

      My deep friendships all came about from spending lots of time together (classmates). I just joined a day trip meetup. I think traveling with people will help me make real friends more than short activites.

      • Not to burst any bubbles, but Meetup can be incredibly hit or miss. I had great success in one city where I lived, but in my current city people often don’t show up for the Meetup (eg. one event had over 20 people signed up and only a handful actually showed up), the Meetup gets cancelled, organizers step down before an event occurs, etc. It’s frustrating! It’s hard making friends as an adult. If anybody has great solutions, please let me know! I have a great significant other but wish I had some great friends to brunch with, call up on a whim, etc.

        I would agree with you, Olivia Pope, that the lengthier activities have better potential for leading to a friendship (or at least getting together for a subsequent activity) as opposed to short activities or activities where people can come and go as they please. I’ve also found that carpooling with people when the event is a hike or outdoor activity leads to better results than just showing up on your own.

    • I’m not a mom, but FWIW I definitely consider my husband and my mom my two closest friends. I’ve found its hard to make ‘deep’ friendships as an adult. My only deep friendships are from college or earlier, and many of those have grown apart over time, either due to living far apart, being in different stages of life, or just going in different directions emotionally. My best friend from college lives in the same town as me and we see each other occasionally but not that regularly – we’re both very busy with work and have significant others so we just don’t get together that much one-on-one. So yeah, no real advice but I feel you.

      • It kind of nice to know that it’s not just being a parent that makes it hard. Who knew my 30’s would be so full of people and activity but still feel lonely?

      • Anonattorney :

        Agreeing with you AGAIN, LH.

        My addition to your comment may be unpopular, but it is true for me, at least. Now that I’m married, and really busy with work (although not today, apparently), I only have so much time to socialize. My husband and I tend to spend that time socializing with other couples, so that we can spend more time together. That means that a lot of my one-on-one female friendships have kind of fallen by the wayside. Sometimes I get pretty sad about it, or at least wistful; but, I just don’t have much time, and once we add kids to the mix (hopefully soon), that free time will only get even smaller.

        • That was definitely my experience. Most of my single friends weren’t particularly interested in hanging out with me and my husband, so I had less time available to do single things. Now most of my childless friends aren’t particularly interested in hanging out with me and my kids, which definitely limits scheduling. I’m sure it feels like I’m being inflexible to them, but I can’t be in two places at once and I’m already at the office for most of my children’s waking hours. I think it works pretty well if you friends get married and have kids around the same time you do, but mine did not so it’s been a major hurdle.

          • Meg Murry :

            Are your friends interested in coming over to your place for a glass of wine after the baby is in bed? We aren’t able to go out much anymore post-kids, but we’ve become a pre-bar or post-happy hour stop for friends now- not quite the same, but better than nothing.
            Alternately, we’ve found we can get young babysitters pretty cheap to come over once baby is in bed and then text us if he wakes so we can come right home. Even my BIL who won’t change diapers will take that gig for $20, plus free beer, WiFi & Netflix, provided all he has to do is walk with a crying kid for 10min until we get home.

        • It makes me sad when my couple friends only want to socialize with other couples. I’m perfectly happy to be the single person with a group of couples – are there people who don’t like that?

          Of course, I also like hanging out with my friends’ kids, so maybe I’m weird.

          • It cuts both ways, single people sometimes don’t invite someone who is married assuming they are “probably too busy doing couple stuff”.

          • I agree & I hope the people saying this aren’t making assumptions about those of us who are single/without kids. For me, my friends are important to me & I know you come with husbands and kids and I still want to know all about that and about your life. Please don’t assume I’m not interested just because I chose to do something different.

          • For what it’s worth, I’m in a couple and I have three “best” (closest) friends, two single and one married. We do couple-y things with my married friend and it’s great, but I like my one-on-one time with my married friend best because her husband and my fiance aren’t particularly close. They are totally friendly, but wouldn’t be friends on their own.

            On the other hand, both of my single friends have spent long amounts of time with my fiance and I together and it’s been FANTASTIC! Luckily, both of them get along famously with my fiance one-on-one. One of them introduced us in the first place, but the other met my fiance only after a year of friendship. We’ve travelled as a threesome (sharing hotel rooms, every waking moment, etc.) with both single friends. And I love it. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am making them the “third wheel” too often (especially now that we live in different cities), but they’ve both assured me it’s fine.

            Just a long-winded way of saying not all of us coupled-up folk necessarily prefer spending time with coupled-up friends!

          • Just to make sure there wasn’t a miscommunication, it was the friends who decided. I continued to invite them to whatever we were doing, but they declined. Some of my friends are certainly happy to hang out with the kids or my husband – unfortunately they mostly live out of state.

    • Yes! I am in a fairly similar boat. All of my college and high school best friends are scattered around the country, and it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to make those same sorts of friends later in life. You just don’t have the life experiences together.

      That being said, in 2013, I really sat down and thought about my various friends. I needed some good girl friends to have some life conversations with, and just really felt like I was missing that (phone calls aren’t the same). I decided to make a real effort with certain friends. I reached out to them for lunch dates, and that seemed to work the best with everyone’s busy schedules. We didn’t feel guilty not inviting husbands/kids, which allowed for more real conversation. I also decided there were certain friends that I wasn’t going to make a huge effort with for one reason or another. Sure, we still invite them when we have large group gatherings, but I don’t go out of my way to spend one on one time with them any more.

      I feel much happier with where I’m at with my friendships now than I did a year ago. I realized its good to have different friends for different needs – some are your ones where you have the deep conversations, some may provide you fashion advice or be your work sounding board, others might just be fun to hang out with but don’t have the depth of conversation.

      It’s hard to meet people to fill these niches, but realize that lots of other people are out there looking for friends as well. I find most of newer, better friends are lawyers. They all understand my crazy schedule and that I might have to cancel a lunch with no notice, and they don’t take it personally.

      Good luck! I think this is a hard thing for women as we move into our 30s and beyond, but I hope it helps to know you’re not alone!

      • “I needed some good girl friends to have some life conversations with, and just really felt like I was missing that (phone calls aren’t the same).”
        EXACTLY.

        I like your approach and can think of at least one person to try with. Did you just start asking them to lunch dates or did you introduce the bigger plan somehow? Did you find that a certain frequency of lunch dates was best?

        • With one friend, I told her what I needed (and we are both friends with some of the others, so were able to vent about the lack of relationship depth with others). With another, I really value our friendship and she always has amazing advice, but she never made the first move. I realized that that was just how it is with her, so I made the effort, and she always says yes (even if we have to schedule several weeks out). Once we’re together, she always tells me how glad she is to see me, so I’ve gotten over having to be the planner with her.

          I do think it helps to realize that most others are in the same boat, so with the right person, they are really excited to have a deep relationship too.

        • As far as how frequent, it’s probably lunch every other month and then also seeing each other at group gatherings (business events, kids birthday parties, etc. depending on the person). I will say we often have to schedule 2-4 weeks in advance because everyone’s calendars are so full. This comes back to the point where it’s easier to do this with friends with similarly high powered careers because they understand the scheduling challenges.

          Also, to the point someone made in one of the threads above, you have to be willing to stand up for yourself a bit at work. I know some people who will be assigned work in the morning, so they will automatically cancel their lunch plans, whereas I will ask the partner – when do you need this by and still take my lunch unless absolutely necessary. There are certain things that really are strict deadlines, but I see so many people who just always put work first even when they don’t have to, and that leads to total burnout and no balance.

    • Diana Barry :

      I am right there with you! All my best friends from growing up are scattered around the country. Now my friends are DH, my sister (although less so lately) and couple friends (so I only see them with DH and their husbands). I am also introverted and hate small talk, and I feel like there’s no way to break into the mom clique at school (the moms there are all SAHMs and I work, which seems to make for a bigger divide somehow). Sigh.

  17. I’d love any comments and recommendations about Dansko or Sanita clogs. I had a pair of backless clogs made by Danskos back in the mid-90s, and would now prefer the kind with the back. I think they are called “Professionals,” but I’ll be wearing them with jeans for casual Fridays at work. Does anyone here have a preferred style/brand? I see that there are a lot of different materials and designs now, but if someone here loves their clogs, I’d love to hear more. Thanks.

    • I’ve had probably 3-4 pairs of the standard Dansko clogs, starting around 15 years ago. I love my first pairs – purchased at least 10 years ago (I actually wore down the sole to the point where it was hard to walk in them anymore and that’s when I got the ankle-rolling issue). I got a pair more recently (like 5 years ago) and I hate them. I have the ankle rolling issue way more frequently and it’s isn’t because I’ve worn them down. I have very high insteps and moderately high arches, and the first pairs were very comfortable but the newer pair hurts my instep. I love them in theory because the large sole means I could use them to commute in pants hemmed for low heels, but I do not like the newer models.

    • I bought a pair of the Sanita Professional Oil Clogs a year and a half ago when I was healing from a stress fracture in my foot. I needed shoes that, basically, didn’t bend, and I needed a narrow width. I had to wear them every day for about two months, and I just thought they were great. They really fit, they’re comfortable for walking, they look nice (for clogs, that is), and they’ve held up well. They’re still my “go to” weekend shoe if I’m just running out for errands or whatever. Can’t attest to the Sanita “Flexible” sole clogs.

    • So Danskos used to be made in Denmark. Sometime ago, they moved their factory to China, and Sanita now has the factory in Denmark. At least, this is the word on the street (or in the surgeon’s locker room.) Consequently, I have found more quality issues with Dansko clogs and better luck with Sanitas. Even with Sanita, I often find that individual pairs of the same size of clogs fit slightly differently, so I often order two pairs of two sizes on Zappos and find the best pair.

      I use Sanitas as my OR clogs now, switched from Dansko.

  18. Relationship help! :

    Yay, it’s the weekend! I know we’ve had a lot of dating threadjacks but I’m kind of in a weird situation and I could use some advice. I started dating this guy about a month ago. While I think he’s an interesting and nice guy, it’s not like I am head over heels about him. However, I could basically tell right from the beginning that he is very.into. me. It’s flattering to be in this position, I’ll admit, but I am still unsure about whether I want a real long lasting relationship with him. Subconsciously, I am holding back from him, something he has noticed and commented on to the friend who set us up. After relaying his thoughts to me, my friend asked what was up and I basically told her that it takes me a long time to get to know someone and that I am normally very cautious and move slowly. She let him know and he is fine with that. However, thinking about it some more, I know that the main reason I take a while is because I’ve been hurt before so by not fully committing myself and telling someone my deep secrets, I’m really just protecting myself. I know this isn’t good and not fair, but I don’t really know how to act otherwise. Also, I am totally not a prying person so it’s not like I reciprocate in asking pretty personal questions. I guess I kind of clam up? I’m not sure this warrants talking to a therapist as I know many of you will suggest, I guess I’m just looking for advice on how to open up some more without getting hurt. I always answer his questions and comments, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I usually don’t elaborate fully. Feel free to ignore my rambling if you think I’m just being crazy! There’s something about guys and dating that makes me feel like I’m in a turmoil.

    • It could be just that you don’t feel comfortable with THIS guy. That said, if you see something in yourself that you feel like:
      a) is a pattern; and,
      b) is causing you to hold back from having a committed relationship with anyone,

      then yes, therapy is a good idea. After some accusations by my now ex-H as he left, and some soul searching on my own, I went to therapy for a pattern I feared in myself. It was really good to explore that and get past it. No trace of it in my current relationship.

      • Relationship help! :

        I think it is unfortunately becoming a bit of a pattern and I would agree that therapy is probably the way to go , however, my schedule is so insane right now(and will be till mid May) that I literally don’t have the time to research and find one, let alone meet for several hours. Any time spent on a therapist would mean either cutting into my sleep (not an option as I become unreasonable without sleep) or cutting into the limited datetime we have (since I’m in a different city).

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      I’m pretty turned off by the fact that dude’s first line of response when apparently troubled by your reluctance to “open up” is to run to the friend who set you up to talk about it, instead of talking to you.

      This may be a pattern that you want to talk out with a therapist, but it might also be your gut telling you that *this guy* isn’t the guy. Considering the weird, junior-high-ish method he chose for sorting this out, I’m not confident this is the guy you should be baring your soul to, regardless of whether or not you’re perhaps also holding back out of some subconscious pattern.

      • Relationship help! :

        Good point. In his defense , I think he just didn’t want to scare me off. But that’s definitely something to think about.

        • Killer Kitten Heels :

          If he’s concerned about scaring you off, he starts the conversation with “I hope I don’t scare you off, but….”

          Also, if he *did* scare you off, wouldn’t that be useful information for him, from an “am I compatible with this lady?” perspective? I mean, he’s concerned you’re not being open with him, so he encourages you to be more open by… pulling an end-run around you and getting your mutual friend to pressure you to “open up” to him? Whuh?

      • It may have been as simple as the original set-up friend saying to the guy “How are things going with OP?” and he responded with the fear that he’s scaring her off. That doesn’t seem like a red flag to me. Why wouldn’t he feel comfortable talking with their mutual friend. In the grand scheme of things, one month of dating doesn’t seem that long to me. I think it’s natural to take time to build trust and you should allow yourself to see where this goes with out pressure. Let him know that you need to take things slowly. If he doesn’t respond to that well, that would worry me.

    • I was in your position few years back and I did get some help from a therapist. I am not sure if you really need to tell your deep dark secrets to a person whom your know for a couple months. You need to gain that trust gradually and when you feel comfortable you can share it with him. Also I don’t necessarily agree with Killer Kitten Heels. He noticed that you are holding back..he has mentioned it to your friend and I am not sure if you know the context in which he mentioned it to your friend. Moreover he is not pressuring you to be more open and has agreed to give you the space and time you need which I think is good. However I strongly recommend getting some help because you don’t deserve to be in a state where you cannot get into and enjoy relationships because of what has transpired in your past.

  19. Anon Rant :

    Question sort of related to the above: when I try to figure out how to balance my BigLaw hours and relationships and friendships, and talk about that with one of my friends, she always said “Well, you chose that profession.” So what, am I not allowed to have problems too or strive for balance?

    It’s just frustrating to me when I see my friends working 9-5 complain about not having any time. Sister, you have no. idea.

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      That sounds like the kind of response I’d give when I’ve listened to someone ruminate on something for too long with no results/changes.

      Sure, you’re entitled to think about/work towards balance regardless of the profession you chose, but if your conversations are a constant stream of “I have no time, it’s so hard, you think YOU have it hard, you have no idea!” I could see falling back on the “well you chose it” response.

      Your friend is telling you she is *not* the audience for your thoughts on time management and work/life balance – take her at her word.

    • Hmm…you raise two unrelated things in your post, but I wonder if they’re getting strung together in your conversations. If friend with 9-5 job is complaining about how they have no time, and you respond by complaining about how much less time you have, they might be frustrated that they feel that they aren’t entitled to express their feelings around you. Try to be understanding that their complaint might be different than yours – not that they have no time to do basic life maintenance (as may be the case with you), but that their expectations/wants for their free time don’t match up to reality.

      That said, you have the right to be heard and understood too. You might try telling your friends that while you knew what you signed up for, you want to do your best to make it work, or that you have X specific problem that you think you can solve.

    • Silvercurls :

      Dunno if this helps, but sooner or later lots of us get landed with especially aggravating situations in which there seems to be almost no room in which to maneuver for the day-to-day stuff, much less for finding an Overall Solution. Examples: caring for frail elders, caring for children with special needs, caring for both generations at the same time, doing part or all of the above while trying to hold onto a career or simply to maintain a job (aka regular income). In other words, there are many of us who occasionally find ourselves thinking Sister, you have no. idea.

      No great advice except to keep on keeping on…Take good care of yourself (because self-care is always worthwhile during a stressful time), stay as connected as you can with as many people as you can. Some of your friends will understand, others won’t. But hopefully some of your now-just-pleasant acquaintances may turn into closer friends.

    • I think that’s their way of saying that if you don’t like it then quit, or at least stop complaining all the time. But, I don’t mean that in a critical way – just to point out that this person probably isn’t a good person to vent to.

    • This thread reminds me of a HBR blog article: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/please-stop-complaining-about/

      The premise of the article is that everyone is busy in different ways and by constantly stating we are busy, we’re harming communication and relationships. It’s an interesting read.

      • And I should note that I’m not linking to the article to be snarky. I’ve had my fair share of moments where I’ve been frustrated with friends who tell me they are so incredibly busy when their schedules don’t seem to come close to mine in terms of demands and pressures. The article offered an interesting perspective and challenged me to rethink my thoughts and approach.

        There was also a similar article that I read where the author proposed that instead of just responding with questions of how we are with “I’m so busy” and engaging in constant oneupmanship that we should instead actually tell our friends and family what is going on in our lives and how we are feeling with all the pressures, etc. The author argued that changing the dialogue would not only reframe our own mindsets but allow us to engage more meaningfully with others. If only I could find that article…

        • ExcelNinja :

          Yeah…I stopped complaining about how busy I was when I realized how boring it was to hear other people complain about how busy they were. Everyone is busy…let’s stop trying to out-busy each other.

    • Kjoirishlastname :

      One thing that my husband has said in regards to free time…backstory: his friend who had young children at the time would make some kind of free time comment, and hubs would then vent to me that he felt that his buddy was trying to have a pissing contest about free time, but hubs felt that no one’s free time was any more or less valuable than anyone else’s. Just because dh didn’t have kids at the time didn’t mean that his free time was less valuable than the time of his friend’s, if that makes sense.

      Now we have kids, and we still try to be cognizant of that when dealing with folks with a variety of different life-situations.

      I also +1 to the sentiment that everyone goes through the “you have no idea” period from time to time. Friends of mine ding me by saying, “you work for the govt! You get all those holidays!” But what they fail to see is that I have meetings just about weekly, scheduled outside normal business hours because we deal with the citizenry who has other jobs, and can’t make daytime meetings. So, when dealing with all our our subcommittees, commissions and council, we pretty much have to plan every meeting for after hours. And if there is one thing that my community loves, it is meetings and committees. So, yes, I get Lee-Jackson /MLK 4-day weekend. But, every.single.week, I have one meeting or another (many times more than one!) that occurs after cob. And not because I didn’t budget my working time well and am coming up on a deadline, or similar (btdt too, in the private sector–but it wasn’t ME who was budgeting my time–it was my supervisors! So their poor management rolled downhill to the grunts and we all stay late).

      So, I hear ya sister. So while you chose your profession, you are just as entitled as anyone else to gripe about the demands of your job.

  20. SoCalAtty :

    Hi there hive, I think I’m posting because you are a lot of like-minded, similarly situated individuals. I’m turning 33 Sunday, and just saw my ob/gyn, who once again asked my what my/husband’s baby plans are…and I just don’t know! I’ve posted on here before, but I’m not sure if I even want to…if one would fit into our lives…if it would even work logistically…

    I did some preliminary poking around in my neighborhood. We’re right between two fantastic infant day care facilities that come highly recommended by friends that have used them. Both are in our affordable range, and I can get into both. So that is about 7am-6pm, and I could drop of in the morning and husband could pick up around 4/5. I’d still like to ride on the weekends, and husband said to me last night “that’s fine, a few hours in the mornings on the weekend can be daddy time!!” Ok, so that would work…

    I’ve talked to lots of professional, both parents-working couples that have amazing kids, and they assure me it is doable…but most of them have family nearby or have hired a live-in. We don’t have any family nearby, and can totally swing the expense of the nice infant care, but we don’t have anywhere to put a live in…in my 720 square foot house!

    I guess it is the “contingency” plan that worries me – kid is sick and neither one of us can stay home, or something like that. My company does have a pretty generous telecommute policy (basically…if you need to, work from home) but I don’t ever want to be perceived as abusing that. I guess there must be nannies that do some kind of “gap care” for things like that, or when you need someone to do pick up and stay with them until the parents get home…

    To make it worse, my Aunt that I am pretty close with keeps saying “oh, just get pregnant and it will work out, you don’t have to worry about any of this stuff because you’ll be pregnant for 9 months, and you can’t plan for a baby anyway…” Aside from the fact that some of these places do have a 10-12 month waiting list (I can get in, but I still have to sign up in advance), I’d like to have SOME idea of what I’m going to do. She also keeps saying “you might not even want to go back to work!” WHOA. Not an option for us, since I have a massive pile of student loans and we have big ideas for a remodel….and would like to retire someday.

    Also, and I’m sure some of you can relate, I LOVE my job. LOVE IT – and it is a big part of my identity. I don’t ever want to give this up. Aunt is probably projecting a little because she despises every second of her job.

    Anyway…can this work? I know the answer is that it CAN, and people keep telling me “lots of people do it with a lot less income…” But…I guess I’m just looking for some voice of reason to confirm that it is hard but doable.

    • It IS hard, and it IS doable. I have to echo your aunt here – you will figure it out as you go along (and things will keep changing along the way). Your post shows that you’ve been thinking very realistically and with a lot of foresight on the day to day challenges of parenting. However, parenting is not a decision for just your current situation. It’s a decision for the long haul, so ask yourself (1) is your DH willing to shoulder part of the responsibilities and support you, and will he help you navigate the challenges together, and (2) do you picture yourself 20 years from now, with a family? If the answer to these questions is yes, the rest are all details you can work out.

      I hear you on Loving your job, and I dismissed out of hand when people told me (pre baby) that I may not come back to my job. My job continues to be a big part of my identity, along with my parenthood. There are part-time care options for sick kids, and you can even work from home while supervising a nanny who cares for your sick child. You will figure out diapering, and a good daycare, and what to feed him when he’s refusing everything, and what to do for diaper rash, and tantrums, and… really, I understand the need to plan everything. But resist. If you know you want a baby, and that your DH will be a great partner in this journey, now’s a good time to go for it.

    • Anonymous :

      I agree that it is hard and doable. I am an associate at a big law firm (also in SoCal, coincidentally) and I have a toddler who has been in daycare centers with 7 am- 6pm hours since he was 2 mos old. I actually went back to work halfway into my maternity leave because I couldn’t stand being home any longer. For the first yr of his life, I handled drop off and pick up. Now my husband does both. When I had daycare duty, it was hard having to leave at 5:45 no matter what was going on, but it was helpful to my time management and also the time management of the partners I work with regularly. Now that I can work later, I usually leave between 6:30 and 7 and get back to work after he goes to bed at 9.

      One of the hardest adjustments for me is the lack of free time. I can’t come home from work and veg out. He requires full attention. Weekends are the same way, though it has gotten easier as he gets older. I work a lot on the weekends too, which basically means that nap time, which would otherwise be my downtime, is when I do work. The first year was also hard due to the amount of daycare he missed due to illness– probably 4-6 weeks total. My firm has back-up childcare, which helps. I still can’t work at home without other childcare, so even with the telecommute option, you will need backup childcare.

    • Childless by Choice in OC :

      I have lived in OC most of my life (exceptions: boarding school, college and 5 years back East post-college), and I am 47 1/2. I have always been childless by choice. At this age, I probably could not have a child even if I wanted to (although I still use an IUD to make sure).

      But the point is, I don’t want to. Never did. And that is AOK. Even in conservative, religious, family-directed Orange County. My family moved here in 1971, so I am well acquainted with the assumptions that everyone here makes about gender roles and that cause professional woman (I was BigLaw for years, partner, and now still practicing but not in BigLaw) to constantly defend our choices to have jobs, real jobs that take lots of time, and to choose not to have kids. I get what that feels like. I am the only woman from my grade school class (last time I attended school in OC, I left for boarding school after 8th grade) who has a professional career. I think only one other has no kids, and she doesn’t live in OC anymore.

      When I turned 30, I asked myself (as I used to on a regular basis) whether I wanted kids. I did not. But I made a plan that if I changed my mind, I would want to deliver by 35. So I worked backwards and docketed dates by which I should conceive, find an MD who would do IVF with me even though I was at the time unmarried, and other milestones. And I docketed reminders for those dates. Every time one of those reminders or dates arrived, I reassessed and realized that I still did not want kids. And that’s OK. So I didn’t do it. And I absolutely do not regret it.

      I write here simply to offer you an alternate perspective because I suspect this perspective is underrepresented. If you don’t want it, you don’t want it, so don’t do it.

      (I will let others address the “you want them but need to figure out how to actually do it,” because that is certainly true and they can walk you through it.)

      • Woods-comma-Elle :

        I would co-sign this – ultimately, the first question you have to answer is ‘do I really want a child’. If the answer is yes, then you can start thinking about the ‘how’. But if the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, then it’s a whole other ball game.

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        I think I’m in your camp and I appreciate your perspective. I think I want someone close to me to have a kid instead.

    • Anon for this :

      I find myself really asking myself many of the same questions. I also really derive a lot of happiness and self-worth from my work and have a husband who is out of the country for work for half the year.

      We don’t have kids yet and the ‘timeline’ that I had in mind is shockingly close to me. I think what I’ve realized is that this will be scary and things will change but I am going to trust my choices and not look back.

      I think the key for me is to keep moving forward- whatever your choices.

    • If you want kids, you can do it. It sounds like you’ve got many of the pieces in place already: extended hour day cares researched, agreement from your partner to shoulder part of the load, etc.

      As the mama of an almost-2-year-old, in a two academic family, a tiny Bay Area house, and now family around, my top three pieces of advice are:

      — find backup care (for when the baby’s sick or when the daycare is closed), and a backup for the backup. My productivity has really suffered these past two years because of staying home when the baby was sick or the nanny was sick – and the backup was not available. You’ve got to have layers of backup. Which relates to my second bit of advice…

      — Join a mom’s group during maternity leave, and try to make friends. It’s so essential to have others to talk to about the weirdness of infancy… but these other mamas can be even more helpful later on, when they can pitch in as backup care in an emergency (there’s always a few SAHMs). The mom’s group I joined has morphed into a playgroup/ babysitting co-op, and it has saved my a$$ several times this year. Plus the kids have known each other since they were born, and now are developing real friendships. It’s so sweet.

      — Finally, make sure your partner is willing to pitch in >50%. You can’t work fulltime, and be responsible for dinner, housecleaning, and bedtimes. Some will have to be outsourced, and he’ll have to do more than weekend mornings. Esp. if you are b’feeding/ pumping while working fulltime – that’s an exhausting timesuck that will leave little time for anything not work or hygiene related (it’s doable, though, I finally stopped this fall at 20 mos.)

    • Diana Barry :

      Of course it can work. But what do you and your husband want? Where is he in all this? Have you talked about what YOU EACH WANT?

      It is of course OK not to have kids, but if you want different things, it may be a problem that you should talk through.

    • ExcelNinja :

      I’m coming up on a certain age and having the same thoughts FWIW…no advice, just commiseration :( My DH and I talk about it often as part of our long-term 5/10 year flight plan, but neither one of us has the answer. We both feel the same way. Never really explicitly wanted kids, but love children, but love our life the way it is now, but the clock is ticking, etc etc etc.

    • lawyer mom, autistic kid :

      I had my son at 34 and my daughter when I was 36. I love my career. I worked through my second maternity leave. I feel like I was born to be a lawyer… and a mom. Turns out that my son has autism. The difference between parenting and parenting a kid with a severe developmental disability is an order of magnitude– kind of like the difference between parenting a kid and parenting a dog.

      Generally speaking, we over achieving chicks got where we were by controlling the hell out of whatever we can control. Taking ownership. Some things can’t be controlled, however, as it turns out.

      My kids have bent my career trajectory, especially my son. I’m not going to reach the highest echelons of my profession, as conventionally defined. However, while the person I’ve become is not as productive as someone in Big Law needs to be, the person my son has made me is actually a much better lawyer, and a much better partner. I could write a book about why, but it comes down to the fact that I have a much better grasp of real complexity.

      Bottom line: by all means plan, but parenting comes down to throwing yourself into the maelstrom. You may emerge okay, you may not…. I talk to a lot more people who regret not having children than people who regret having them– I have yet to talk to someone who regrets having them– but either way, it’s not a “manageable” change. You’re not just complicating your leisure life. You are becoming a different person, whether your path is additionally complicated as mine has been or not. There are lots of kids in the world, and if you don’t have any, that’s okay. My advice: fill your life with meaningful things, whether those things are kids or not. And don’t let fear of being out of control drive the decision. Most of the reason parenthood is transformative is because so much of it is beyond your control.

    • Anonymous :

      you need to save $$ and sell the horse and become less flighty before having a kid!

      • I appreciate all of these perspectives…but why would I sell the horse? Flighty? That’s a word I’ve never heard applied to me. I’ve been in a career for 7 years, doing well, just paid of ALL my credit card debt, and my only debt is my mortgage and student loans. We just wrote the check to finish maxing out our 401ks for 2013, and my deduction is set to max out both my 401k and Health Savings Account for 2014…we have 2 months of the 6 month emergency savings fund stashed away, and will be at 6 months ($60,000) by June.

        We’ve lived in the same house since 2008, same area since 2003. House is in a 30 year fixed mortgage @ just under 5%…and we’ve done all that with the horse. And a horse show last weekend.

        If we get pregnant, the horse will get 6 months off. No big deal. When I come back to riding, she can come back at the same time.

        Anyway – it’s the logistics of having kids that worries me, not the money. We’re fine on that front. Sure, we want to do that big renovation of the house within the next 2 years, and, sure, it will increase my mortgage payment by about 30%, BUT even with that, our mortgage payment will still be under about 33% of our net income.

        Flighty. I don’t get offended by much on an online forum…but I’m the exact opposite. I raised my brother, cared for my ailing grandfather until he passed away, and am the “lifeguard” of both my family and my husband’s. I pick a track and I stick to it, come h@ll or high water. It would have been tough to come from my family and make it to where I am while being “flighty.”

        Telling me to sell the horse is like telling someone else contemplating kids that they aren’t allowed to go on vacation anymore. “Sorry, cut out all those fun vacations and stay home!” I drive an older (paid off) car, as does my husband, and we are careful with our vacations – and when we do go, it is through a (paid off) timeshare that only costs us the $50 booking fee, airfaire, and food. I have several friends that ride, at similar income levels, and have had kids and continued to ride with no problem.

        • Anonymous :

          maybe “selfish” would have been a better word.

          • SoCalAtty :

            Not really helpful…but…thanks? Having kids is a huge deal, and it is really hard to figure out if doing that is right for us. I value perspectives here, but just slapping some labels on me isn’t that helpful.

          • Anonattorney :

            Don’t listen to the trolls, SoCalAtty! Trolls on thissite always remind me of that Norwegian movie “Trollhunter” that came out in 2010. Every time they saw a troll they would yell “TRROOOOLLLLLL!!!”

          • Thanks Anonattorney!!

            Now I’m going to hear that in my head all the time :) Now I know why most regular posters have gone anon. Maybe a good call!

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