LawMom and the Fashionable Household: Up Nostril, Half Deux
Ed. Note: This is the latest in a series of articles on the topic of motherhood in the legal profession, made in collaboration with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Jamie Szal back to our website. Click here if you would like to donate to MothersEsquire.
I’m totally positive I’m not the only lawyer here who has volunteered to listen to many workshops on goal setting or visualizing 2021. In fact, I really enjoyed the visualization workshop and meditation hosted by Claire Parsons, a co-mother of MothersEsquire and the Above the Law employee. A great insight from these workshops was the writing. It. Low. Manifest the crap out of these goals! Write it down in life.
Or be careful what you want.
After all, I have one of my last ATL posts with “Up Nose, Mama!”
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when my flower child decided to put his newly expanded olfactory capacity to the test over the Christmas holidays. As I sat, quietly working on one or the other project, and had an overdue week off, my ears were filled with a rousing chorus of “Up my noses! Mother! It’s in my nose! Mother! Mother! Find out! Mother! It’s stuck! Find out! “From the kitchen. (Your vocabulary has exploded! The joy of watching this process is a separate contribution.)
Oh, out of love for the new baby Jesus, not again.
I half expected my offspring to sprout a Christmas log in a way that would give Pinocchio a run for his money, so I turned the corner.
And what appeared to my wondering eyes? A 3 year old, eyes round with fear.
She managed to help herself from the bag of peas in the freezer. Since the beginning of solid food, frozen peas have been changed regularly. In her eagerness to enjoy her favorite legume, she managed to stuff a small, frozen pea into her nose. At this point, I’m the consummate professional, cool and calm under pressure. I took the screaming 3 year old, put it in my side and talking in a steady voice made the little bastard jump out.
It turns out that these grapefruit spoons are useful.
You are probably wondering what this has to do with life as a lawyer. Parenthood and advocacy go hand in hand. I totally underestimated how much being a mother affects the way I practice my legal profession.
Parenthood expressed my confidence in myself. Under the pressure of a screaming toddler, I knew exactly what to do when and how. My daughter looks up to me to be sure and expects me to speak for her with confidence. Case in point: I turned to myself to remove the pea, sure I would save it. The security I developed as a mother carries over from home to work. no need to fake it. Thanks to my daughter, confidence is now muscle memory.
Parenthood taught me self-regulation and realized how much my mindset and emotions affect my decision-making (and those around me). The calmer I am, the easier it is to help my daughter calm down. Whenever I am involved in a high-stakes tax audit negotiation with an accountant or in a heated investigation battle, it is important to maintain my composure to ensure that I am representing my clients’ interests. I now have years of almost daily practice.
Parenthood improved my negotiation skills. The persistence of toddlers is a sight to behold. Even more so when this toddler is a lawyer’s daughter. What can I say, I taught her well and “negotiable” was one of her early words. The reality is that she teaches me. The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a parent in negotiation is to only offer alternatives that you can live with from the start, and that’s what I take with me in my work.
Parenthood brought out my creative side. Hi? Grapefruit spoon. Parenthood requires constant creative thinking. In that sense, trying to remove a frozen legume is almost the same as trying to piece the legal landscape together in a case. You have a problem. You know there is a solution. Creativity gets you there.
Parenthood gave me an excuse to have fun, and that’s the most important thing, after all.
Parenthood strengthens life lessons. In the spirit of learning and manifesting the crap from what I am writing down, I will not close this letter with a brisk “Up Nose, Mama”, but with:
Enjoy life mom.
Jamie Szal is an attorney at Brann & Isaacson where she focuses on assisting corporations in all aspects of government and local tax disputes, from audits and administrative proceedings to civil litigation. Jamie is an active participant in the alumni network and the Women’s Leadership Council of her alma mater, Trinity College MothersEsquire, the women’s rights division of the Maine State Bar Association, and serves on the board of a not-for-profit Maine dental practice. Outside of work, Jamie enjoys raising her highly independent, mischievous daughter. To sing; and wander Maine with her husband, daughter, and dogs.