A note to my Mother on International Women’s Day
My mother always said to never quit your day job. She should know, she’s a divorce attorney. For over thirty years, she has seen firsthand what happens when wives and mothers give up their careers and lose everything when a marriage collapses. After seeing the worst of humanity splash across the court room, she still manages to commute back and forth into Manhattan to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and bring some dignity to the messy, complicated business of healing torn families. She’s going to be 65 in June, and has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
Growing up in a suburban town with lots of yuppy Mommies who didn’t work full-time made things a little tense. At a young age we could pick up on the subtle, passive aggressive cues that the other Moms judged my mother. The “stay at homes” envied her dedication and professionalism and regarded the employment of nannies as somehow detrimental to our development. And the guilt. For every field trip or ride home from school she may have missed, the early sense of #FOMO would build and froth into a frenzy we could not fathom. For the record: raising 3 young girls and still working 40-60 hour weeks as an attorney protecting women’s, children’s, and minority rights deserves a goddamn medal, not the sneers of wannabe interior decorators feeding their kids soy muffins.
What I hope Mom realizes is that her enduring sense of responsibility to set a strong example of female empowerment was worth it.
All the times she got to show up for play rehearsal or a tennis practice (which was actually quite often) mattered that much more because I knew she had to sacrifice to be there. To this day, I can still replay the anticipatory minutes leading up the moment when we got to pick her up at the train station after work; the sunset heightening the arrival of the train pulling in, and rushing to greet my parents down the platform – these are some of the happiest of my childhood memories.
Mom tells stories about her adventures living with her Grandparents that always put a positive spin on the sad circumstances surrounding her own upbringing – these were the stories of “Little Lindsay,” getting chased by a Bee, running away in pursuit of ice pops, and spending QT with a caring Grandpa who always promoted kindness… and wit. My mother went from being an often-neglected only child of a Single Mother (in the 50’s and 60’s) in Western Pennsylvania to become a Bryn Mawr College-educated lawyer and a fabulous mother, beating incredible odds and enduring unspeakable losses in the process. My sisters and I are lucky to be a product of her story. She raised us to be kind and grateful, something that seems more important now than ever before.Little Lindsay has left a big mark.
I showed up to my office today in a fancy New York high rise to a corporate job that is truly fulfilling. While Mom and I (and the rest of the non-douchebag universe) are still devastated that our champion in not sitting in the Oval Office where she rightfully belongs, we honor the sacrifices and importance of women on the job everywhere by showing up and doing the best work that we can.
Here’s to international women’s day – and not quitting our day jobs.