By Caycie Bradford-McBee • January 30, 2015•Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life, Other Issues
I am constantly told by people I meet that they don’t know how I do it. I sat down to reflect on that because sometimes I don’t know, I just do. Is it really possible to find a balance between being a mom and an attorney ? Even further, not just an attorney, but a female attorney? Own my own company? It’s funny because I never thought twice about any of it, I just did it. If you ask me, so can you.
In my last year of law school I found out I was pregnant (a total surprise) but I did not let that stop me from pursuing my law degree. My son was due in February, my last semester, and I had three (3) absences left. I gave birth to my son on the 16th of February 2011 and I was back in classes that Monday. I knew if I didn’t finish school then I probably wouldn’t have the time to go back and would lose everything I had ever dreamed and worked for. My entire life I have been working towards having my law degree and being lawyer; the birth of my son changed that.
I always thought I would go into working for a large law firm, working relentless hours, and eventually making partner. I figured I would be working long hard hours for a firm that I would believe in. As I prepare for my son’s fourth birthday party I realize how much that vision and dream changed. I wouldn’t give up what I have now for the world, but finding a balance between work, being a wife, a mother, and my dreams was not easy. In fact, it’s a struggle everyday, and most will never understand.
When my son was five months I took the California State Bar and passed on my first attempt. Upon getting sworn in on November 30, 2011 I immediately opened the doors to my law firm, now flourishing as the C. BRADFORD LAW FIRM. I began practicing criminal defense and family law, with just the help of an assistant, with no legal background. Here I am, three years later and I have an associate attorney and an assistant and a company that affords me to be a mom and an attorney. I have built my entire company on my reputation and do little no advertising. I didn’t have to make partner, I made the firm, I made my life.
My day is a juggling act everyday. Since my son’s birth I have gotten married, now have an amazing six-year-old stepson fulltime, and gave birth to twins. Yes, if you added correctly that’s four kids. My morning starts about 5:30a.m. when I get up make lunches and begin the craziness of a mom’s morning. After everyone’s, including my husband’s, lunches are packed and everyone has been fed breakfast, its time to make sure everyone’s dressed, their backpacks are packed, diaper bag is ready and out the door on time. On the mornings I don’t have court generally I am out the door by no later than 7:30a.m. but if I have a court appearance I can be gone as early as 6:15a.m. Now don’t get me wrong, I have help. My husband helps with the twins in the morning before he leaves around 6:20a..m. and bless my mother’s heart she comes and helps me get everyone out the door. She then watches my twins. First rule, you better a have a support system.
Most working moms have enough to balance, but throw owning your company on top of it and the struggle is even harder. When I was pregnant with my twins, people kept asking me when I was going on maternity leave, I laughed…I own the company there is no maternity leave. People seemed to not believe me. I was in court in downtown Los Angeles on December 10, 2014, in my office on the 11th of December with 5 client meetings and in the hospital in labor later that evening. My twins were born on the 12th of December and I was back in my office on the 22nd of December.
Opening up my own law firm was the best decision I could make as a mom. It affords me the ability to pick up my children from school, take client calls from home, and work at night when the kids are asleep. Sure, this sounds ideal to anyone reading this and pretty easy, don’t let it fool you. Owning your own business is not a 9-5 job. Being a mom is not a 9-5 job. When you’re both you have to evaluate what your own definition of a work-life balance is. Trying to maintain that balance is a daily struggle, but it can be done. My company became successful because I work very hard and very long hours. The key, stay focused on what matters your family, your health, and your dreams. The truth is these things never perfectly balance you will have times where one area needs more attention than another, but the key is to find time to make each of them important. Focus on your career, but not at the extent that you never focus on your family. Focus on your kids but not to the extent that you loose focus on your company…your dreams. Be focused.
Don’t feel guilty for working! Be proud that your children will have someone to be proud of. A working mom does exist. Owning your practice and being a mom can exist. As I write this, I am 29 years old, a mom to 4 and a wife to a loving husband. To me though, my identity is my law firm. I struggle to find a balance, but I remember what’s important at the end of each day. Stay focused… be a great mom and in turn you’ll be a great working mother.