August 28, 2012 Articles

The Courage to Confront the Work-Life Imbalance New

Can we stay in such a demanding profession and still be there for our children?

By Regina Pepe Martorana

Several years ago a dear friend of mine, Donna, told me: “We have done a real disservice to your generation by telling our daughters that you can have it all, that you can be a great mother and a successful career woman. We have set for you impossibly high standards.” Before I had my son, I did not truly understand what she meant. Generations of women before me seemed to have proven Donna wrong. In fact, Donna herself seemed to have proven this statement wrong. An environmental scientist and a professor who went to law school as a second career, Donna is a courageous working mother and a glass ceiling shatter-er. She has done amazing things in her personal life and career, all while raising a beautiful, well-rounded daughter. In response, I nodded, smiled, and politely agreed—but did not understand why I could not be a great mother and a successful attorney. Through the years, the question stayed with me: Why can’t I have it all? Can we stay in such a demanding profession and still be there for our children?

As I worked my way up the associate ranks in my law firm, I looked to more senior female associates and partners for guidance. I asked my mentors, and my mentors’ mentors, the age-old question “How did you do it?” I searched high and low for guidance, attended seminars geared toward female attorneys, and spoke to as many women as I could for advice. I thought to myself: These women must have the answer. They have made it to the upper echelon of their chosen practice areas, some even while staying in private practice, and all while raising children. They must know the secret. How did they do it?

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