Posted on September 30th, 2014
No news is, well, no news.
I started meditating again. Also, I pulled out a book from a group years ago, affirmations for adult children of alcoholics, a kind of secular devotional with affirming statements to help heal the damage of a fucked-up childhood. In following it now, I see how much I’ve grown from the person who read the book almost 10 years ago. I also realize it’s because I’ve had several fucked-up years of adulthood to get here.
In one of the bar magazines that I do not ordinarily read because they depress me, I saw that a woman from the group I’d been in accomplished A Big Thing (it’s a small city and it was a confidential group, so that’s all I’ll say) and that made me very happy for her and a tiny bit jealous. Or maybe more than a tiny bit.
pH has been a pill. She’s taken to telling me “no” like a three-year-old. She is highly motivated by 1) screen time and 2) sweets, and I am a carrot, not stick, person, but that only works so often and I’m only willing to use it so often.*
During one of her tantrums, I broke down and turned into my mother. “Do you know what I did before I stayed home with you? Do you know what my job was?”
pH: “Um…a teacher?”
Me: “No. I was an attorney. I had clients that I helped and who appreciated my help. I negotiated settlements of [large amounts of money]. I had a real office! And nice clothes and nice shoes and…”
At some point during this, pH burst into tears and ran from the room and I didn’t blame her at all, because I closed the door to my fake office and burst into tears, slid into my usual shame spiral, and let kH smooth things over.
Then I apologized. That’s something my mother never would have done. pH apologized. We hugged and it was better. I read an extra chapter of her book that night.
At the zoo yesterday, pH had her picture taken by Japanese tourists while we were hanging out with the penguins. (We are very fond of the Humboldt penguins.) While I do think I have a beautiful child, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have taken her picture if she’d taken off her hat and they’d seen the giant suction cup hickeys she put on her forehead.
Considering all that, and with several sessions with homeschool groups under my belt, I’ve decided I’ll sell the soul I don’t believe in to have a regular legal job and thus money for private school tuition. I mean, I still have the nice clothes. I still have the nice shoes. (I am very good at putting together a timeless wardrobe, thanks.) I’m still a member of the bar in good standing. I still know stuff.
I do miss making a difference in people’s lives. I miss knowing what I was doing was right. Really right! No questions, no angst! Granted, I can count on one hand the number of times clients took the time to say thank you or “I never would have made it through this without you” after the fact. There were plenty of compliments leading up to the conclusion of a case, but generally once a verdict or a settlement was reached, the phone calls were uniformly “Is the check there yet?” every hour on the hour.
Perhaps it’s just human nature: I can count on one hand (two fingers) the writers who took the time to thank me for editing their books. I suppose when someone is telling you to change or delete your little darlings or saying you are wrong on a historical event/convention–and here’s the cite–or that a character is not likable…well, it doesn’t matter how nice you are about saying it, don’t expect gratitude. Admittedly, I was not working with many authors who were accustomed to being edited, but I still hope some of them sit on a fire ant nest. Daily. (One of the two who did say thanks sent an email out of the blue: “I’m sure you get this all the time, but I really appreciate all the work you’ve put into helping me improve my writing.” All the time. Bless his heart.)
Once a law client sent thank you gifts after the conclusion of her case (and she had the check!). They were not the sort of things I would give as gifts, thank you or otherwise or to an attorney or otherwise, and it was pretty clear she didn’t know me very well. But it was sweet.
I had a lot more affirmation when I was working. The ex-boss, a known difficult and explosive personality, complimented my work often. (He was often difficult and explosive, though, too.) Then again, I won a lot of motions I should have lost, the kind where the [name partner in a large insurance defense firm] opposing counsel gives you that look that says, I can’t believe you fucking got away with that. (I might have, and good for the client, but at the end of the day, OC might as well have been minting money, whereas I was not.)
That is not my life now. My life is getting back to making a seven year old do math problems and then practice the piano, and to sneak my own writing into the interstitial places…and time is wasting.
*Readers a blog or two ago might remember the story of having to get a glass splinter out of a much younger pH’s foot. It involved kH and I laying on top of this child to allow the nurse practitioner to get it. It took about 45 minutes (longer in my memory). The screaming, oh, the screaming. I went to concerts and stood in front of speakers at those concerts without losing so much hearing.
So when she got a splinter yesterday and started to freak out when she saw tweezers, I fetched kH…and then a can of cookie icing (it was almost empty). I gave her the icing, told her she could eat it from the nozzle, and tossed a throw over her so she couldn’t see us working. DUDE. It totally worked. Splinter out in two minutes and no co-pay required.