Monday, December 20, 2010

December and What I Don’t Miss

The Hours…
Jen was an up and coming Senior Associate attorney in her firm. She was well liked, respected and worked extremely hard. One thing that I will not miss is the extreme stress that December brought to our household. As an up and coming attorney she had to make her billing hours quota and December is an extremely busy time for a law firm. It’s all about hours billed…and her firm was no different.

In no way am I slamming her firm…the truth of the matter is that ALL law firms are like that…it’s all about Billable Hours. Starting in mid-November we (the girls and I) wouldn’t see much of her. She worked very long hours and the weekend. She routinely got home after I went to bed at 11:00pm. She missed out on the chaos of making dinner, feeding the girls, giving baths and the bed time routine. It was hard and put a LOT of stress on our marriage.

At one point I actually suspected she might be having an affair because she was never home before midnight. Sometimes it would be 1:00am, 2:00am, I just couldn’t imagine anyone wanting or putting up with working that much, but she did. We would call her at 8:00pm when the girls were going to bed and I would call her at 11:00pm or whatever time I went to bed and she was always there working. I dismissed the affair theory when I went to my first Holiday dinner party given by the Firm and quickly found out that this was common practice for ALL the attorneys in the firm regardless of the age, status, title, they all worked these insane hours...ALL of them and came to accept it.

I do not and would not advise anyone to become a lawyer unless they intend to never marry and certainly not if they intend to have children. The stress that the profession puts on a marriage is flat out awful. When the girls talk about when they want to be when they grow up they always say they want to be a lawyer like Mom, for now I just let it go.

Later On

Later on after Jen was diagnosed; we talked about it (her and I) and how much she regretted missing out on things with the girls. How she would give anything to have that time back. Kids grow so fast…you blink and they have grown two inches and are an entire different size bigger in clothes. Their likes and dislikes change. Their looks, mannerisms and vocabulary…they are only little once.

I’m not trying to be a “downer” I’m not. I just want people to realize that December is friggin nuts. The Holiday season is crazy…we ALL get caught up in it…ALL OF US…take a minute to stop and slow down. Don’t forget the little things and the little ones… those smiling little faces get big quick and soon enough they have their own busy social calendars and schedules…

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season


  1. I love this post, Bill.

    You aren’t being a “downer” you are reminding us of what is really important and you are right, this time of year it’s a good reminder. We all have the capacity to get caught up in the stress of the holidays and miss out on the joy (as I did when I frantically realized that I still needed to get our Christmas cards out! :). Seriously though, I love this time of year because I feel like the long nights and short days force us to slow down appreciate the Advent season for what it is, a time of preparation and hope.

    I love your message because it is a good reminder that real joy is achieved through balance – balancing all the things that are important in your life. Sometimes that lesson is learned the hard way. However it is learned, it’s a valuable lesson. I’ve had to learn that lesson myself and recently made some changes in my life to reflect it. A big part of those changes was accepting a new position that I truly love. While it does require a lot from me, one of the great things about it is my home office at the farm. There have been many benefits with this opportunity, but the best is the control I have over my time and how I invest it. It has also opened my eyes to the fact that a purely “salaried” position for the next 20 years was not going to get me what I want. I guess this opportunity came at the right time…a time when I was reevaluating my priorities, how I spend my time now and how I want to spend it in the future (notice I did not say mid-life crisis ;). Bottom line – my family and I could not be any happier with the changes.

    I have a cousin who is an attorney (he is our attorney - which is really nice). His wife is also a corporate attorney – we call them “lawyers in love” :). They are both very ambitious, but they each found their own ways to balance. She started working from home after their son was born and he started his own law practice which gave him greater control over his time. They do work hard, but they work hard and play hard together. It works for them; however, I know that they sacrificed to get to this point.

    Once again, you are an inspiration, Bill. As I read this, I was reminded of why I work hard…why I get up early in the morning and take the time for myself, why I love the fact that I can start my “work day” by going into the kitchen and making pancakes for the boys, why I decided to take some well deserved and much needed time off to celebrate the season (despite the fact that I could have worked the whole way through the new year) and why if I don’t get all my cards out this year…well, it’s not the end of the world. Thanks for the reminder :).

    I wish you, the girls and all reading a wonderful holiday filled with moments that stop you in your tracks and reveal the true joy of the season.

  2. You're not a downer. I think you are appropriately reminding people to cherish what they have when they have it - to not worry so much, etc. My brother was fighting so much with me and my other sibling just before my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, allowing his wife (who ended up leaving him after 8 mos) abuse the family, spread rumors and gossip, and it all got so nasty - especially at the holidays. Turns out it was all for nothing, and my Dad only had a few years left. You do not get the time back. We, of course, did not know that at the time, but... you never do, do you? I'm sure your wife did what she could (as most working mothers do), but... yes - we all get to a point where we say or decide or lament.... I shoulda / coulda done it differently - spent more time with my little ones, etc. I do that now - when I get caught up in daily "chores", worries, family weirdness :-). Anyway... nicely said. I hope you and your girls are having a nice holiday season together :-).


Inside Bill's Head -- Previously Known as (Inside the Head of a Grieving Single Dad)

In August of 2009 my wife Jennifer passed away from an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain Tumor. She was only 38 years old. She left me and our two little girls Abbie and Allie to continue life’s journey.

I promised her that I would NOT become angry and bitter about what order to do that I am attempting to write to express my thoughts and feelings.

This site is a place where I can express my thoughts, feelings and rants...