Rekindling The Flame.

by Christina Michael 


Recently visiting New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty, I thought of the beautiful torch on that Statue symbolic of “enlightening” the way of those entering the United States. Unfortunately, in my little life, what has not been so beautiful or enlightened lately has been my attempt (note unsuccessful to date) at trying to re-kindle my work “torch” with ex-employers.

Desperately trying to find gratifying, paying work that leaves flexibility for my family has caused me to re-approach old employers, somewhat shamelessly, seeking project-based or hourly work. Hearkening back on those old jobs from the dark ages of Y2K, I had such a rose-colored vision of those workplaces. Beautiful offices, well-dressed colleagues, interesting work, and getting all of the accolades I could have ever dreamed. Wow! I should run back to those employers and look for more work! What a meeting with one of my old bosses this past week reminded me of was that the reality created in my mind’s eye was totally and utterly inaccurate (a.k.a. revisionist history).

Sitting in an office with one of my old bosses last week, I was reminded of things that I had so easily forgotten (or buried deep in my memory banks). Offices were not so pretty (yes, I know that fluorescent lights may be more eco-friendly, but how many pimple spots or un-plucked eyebrows could I pull off in this measly meeting?). Work was very stressful. Office politics were still bouncing off all four walls like a game of Pong (I know that computer game is 20 years old, but I really haven’t played any other game since then, even though my oldest son already wants an Xbox. Huh?). And, though I was “welcomed” into the office, I realized I was quite the outsider who may never be handed one single piece of work ever again (shoot, they couldn’t even figure out whether to get burritos or smoothies for lunch let alone find any “project” for me and any budget to pay me for that undefined project).

Suddenly, I began deflating, feeling a bit nauseous, and repeating really bad old patterns of not having enough self-confidence, seeking approval of anyone and everyone around me in that 2x4 office, and having a smile turn into a really unhappy frown (“turn that frown upside down”, I hear myself muttering). I ended our meeting, exited that 2x4, and ran to my clunker Y2K car, unbuttoning my so dated pair of Y2K pants, and rushed to my humble abode.

Rekindling the flame with the ex-employer felt very similar to rekindling the flame with old boyfriends that we women might try to phone, to get a cup of coffee with, or to Google over and over again. When you see the face of the old boyfriend or hear his voice, it undoubtedly never feels very good. In fact, the same mediocre or down right yucky feelings that made you run from the relationship eons ago pelt you in the face. It’s simply never the rose-colored relationship that you have created in your mind’s eye.



Christina: I think we are soul mates...I often think about what it would have been like if I never got married, had kids, and decided to stay home. In my mind, I'd be a rich, fancy partner with a flat stomach and higher boobs. You made me realize if I went back to my pre-mommy job, it probably wouldn't be so glamorous. I try to remind myself, as independent and successful as I was, I always wished for the husband and family. If we actually had it all, would we really want it? I feel your pain... Love, your friend in OH


As a fellow attorney turned mom, I also considered non-legal work in order to escape the dreaded 70-80 hour week. I considered bank jobs, teaching, even going back to dental school! What I found was that no one was willing to pay me nearly as much to enter a new field. I was much better off focusing on flexible legal jobs. I actually stayed with my old firm working 60% time for 60% pay. I end up working about 80% most weeks, but I do a lot from home and over the weekend, so the arrangement is pretty ideal. The world of law firms is changing (albeit slowly) and firms like to post on their website that they are family friendly. Your legal experience makes you a valuable employee! Just keep plugging away at those old contacts and (I can't stress this enough) KNOW WHAT YOU WANT IN A JOB. Don't try to be the lawyer you were prior to leaving. Don't try to meet someone else's expectations, it will drive you crazy. If you can only come into the office three days a week, ask for that in a job. The market is pretty good right now. You might be suprised at what you can find.