It is Done…

I’ve done it, taken the plunge, jumped in at the deep end and several other (not necessarily swimming-related) clichés. I quit.

To be fair, I’m probably not going to be winning any ‘Employee of the Year’ awards – I started at my firm five months pregnant, went on maternity leave for a year (got to love British maternity legislation), returned to work four months pregnant and swanned off on maternity leave again three months later. My firm was forced to pay me a ‘return to work’ bonus despite the fact that I was already on maternity leave again, because to refuse to do so would have been discrimination on the basis of pregnancy (a big no-no in the UK).  Admittedly this seemed unfair even to me, causing me to worry about the bad karma I might be attracting.

I was all set to return after my second year of maternity leave and duly submitted a flexible working application. Having returned to work three days a week between babies, I was hoping to agree something similar this time around. My boss was having none of it. Every request I made was turned down with extensive reasons. As is the norm at any top ten London law firm, to go back full time would effectively mean not seeing my boys at all during the working week. I would leave before they were up in the mornings and return after they’d gone to bed. I realise that there are thousands of parents for whom this is unavoidable but I am lucky enough to have a choice, and it took me about four seconds to decide that resigning was the only option for me.

We managed to part company on relatively good terms which is surprising given I was immediately put on gardening leave (security would have been informed that I was not to enter the building unaccompanied, nice!) and we had to get through the unpleasant task of negotiating my termination payment. Negotiating with senior partners at a law firm is not the barrel of laughs you might expect it to be.

So for now, I be full time mum-of-two. Never thought I’d see the day…


Once were lawyers

Two pregnancies and two babies ago, I don’t think I really believed in the existence of porridge brain.  I strongly suspected that it was the creation of over-tired mothers who were looking for an excuse to fail to remember anything. I now not only believe it exists but am living proof. Given I studied for seven years and practiced law for six before falling pregnant for the first time, you would think I would have gotten the hang of retaining information. Apparently not. My memory is now distinctly sieve-like. Amusing at times but somewhat daunting when faced with the prospect of returning to work.

Admittedly some of the problem is that I’m just not all that interested at the moment – I am far more enamoured with my babies than I am with the finer points of legal argument. And whilst I amuse myself immensely by imagining what my colleagues would say if they could see me in full swing at a baby Gymboree session, that’s about as much head time as work has had whilst I’ve been on maternity leave.

I am more than slightly concerned that I’m going to be asked a taxing technical question at some important client meeting only to discover that all I can remember are the words for ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’. And I’ve been warned by other returnees that when colleagues ask after the little ones, they’re looking for the short answer, preferably the one that doesn’t include a trawl through all the photos on my phone or a blow-by-blow description of routines, feeds and nappy contents.

So between my porridge brain and my inability to make small talk without somehow steering the conversation back to my precious puddings, even money says I don’t last a week.