Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Part-Time Is a State of Mind

I work what most would consider to be a full-time schedule: Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 6:00PM (frequently later). I rarely take more than 20 or 30 minutes for lunch, and I sometimes work on weekends. Although it sounds like a pretty full schedule, many lawyers--even Knoxville lawyers--would consider my schedule to be part-time. Because basically? If you're not regularly billing ten-hour days and working at least one weekend day, you're just not working hard enough.

As you can imagine, there's a good deal of tension between these kinds of work expectations and family life. I'm lucky that the work I do and my firm have allowed my schedule, at least to date. One colleague recently went out of his way, though, to ask at 5:45 PM if I was "burning the midnight oil"--a snarky hint that he doesn't think I work long enough hours. Although I would dearly love to kick him in the shins, I know what he means. I don't choose to work the 60+ hour weeks he worked at my age (or, for that matter, have a stay-at-home spouse tending the homefires, as he does). But if I did work his schedule, I would see my young children even less than the two or three hours a night I currently spend with them. And right now--at only 45 hours a week--I feel stretched pretty thin between work and family obligations.

I'm not treading new ground here; work/life issues are a well-known problem for lawyers. It's a particular concern when so many families have two parents who are both working full-time--like mine. What is the right balance? What expectations are reasonable? Who does the actual raising of your children? Won't you have regrets when they're grown and gone? Who set the 1800 billable hours/annum bar? Why is full-time work short of a 60+ hour week part-time? And when is it really OK to kick your colleagues in the shins? (JOKE, JOKE.)

All this is to say that, I worry about balance and meeting all of my obligations. And although this blog helps me vent my uncertainty and frustration, I don't actually have answers. Or, for that matter, the time right now to figure out a more palatable solution.

You see, I'm kind of busy--even though I'm only working part-time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You work a lot of hours, but you also have a parent who works from home. And you also provide really well for your family, which is an important part of parenting.

I think parents know when their children are suffering from any particular work-life arrangement. And yours clearly are thriving. So the question becomes: what makes YOU happy?

Hope to see you soon :-)