Surviving and Thriving on the Edge

Lately, we have hit a new level of busy. I have had the amazing professional opportunity to try two jury cases six weeks apart. Only 2% of lawsuits ever actually go to trial, so as a young lawyer, getting to actually try cases is generally unheard of. Most lawyers that aspire to see the courtroom get caught in the rotating wheel of Catch-22. I wouldn’t be able to try cases because I didn’t have any experience trying cases, but I can’t get experience trying cases because I have never tried a case before.

But no more. I am a veritable trial lawyer.

But this professional success has taken a toll on our family (not to mention the round of COVID thrown into the middle.) Working 60-80 hours per week for months on end has meant that our house has fallen into chaos and disrepair. My spouse has had to pick up my slack caring for our home and our children. And I am very blessed to have a spouse and children that love me and miss me when I am traveling so much.

So how do we do it? How do we make this work?

First, I had to let things go. It doesn’t matter that the playroom is trashed. If the children don’t know where their toys are or they are letting all of their markers dry out, well that’s their problem now. Maybe they will learn about how they like to handle their stuff and this will be an opportunity for growth.

Second, I had to ask for help. A lot of help. My spouse is picking up my slack, but we also have a momtourage of grandparents that are helping with our children. And it’s a win-win. The girls benefit so much by getting to spend quality time with their grandparents, and by having their own adventures. They are loved and they have dynamic beautiful lives that don’t revolve solely around me.

Third, my spouse and I had to get on the same page. Yes, work is absolutely crazy right now. But this is a huge opportunity that will benefit our family for the rest of my career. We made a no fighting the month before trial rule. Now sure, we had to do some talking and conflict resolution after trial, but it’s amazing how many little conflicts fell to the wayside because they didn’t really matter.

Fourth, I had to intentionally make space for the things that mattered. There were nights that I didn’t work (even though I maybe probably should have) because my husband and I really needed a date night. I have started working in yoga classes and running breaks here and there because I need that to function. I take breaks to do art projects and read with the children. My civic engagement has winnowed to only those things that I truly love and find soul-filling.

Fifth, little gestures go a long way. Whenever I am traveling for work, I make sure to call or Facetime with my family every morning and every evening when the girls are going to bed. When I am really on my game, I pack a few of the kids’ books to read to them on Facetime before they go to bed. And I bring home little souvenirs. My kids still love notepads and pens from hotels. Fancy candy is easy to find in every hotel giftshop and the kids love it.

When this season is done, there are a lot of people that I miss that I hope to catch up with. But in the meantime, we are finding a way to survive and thrive on the edge.

Jess Allain is a mom of two, an attorney, a triathlete, and a yoga teacher. She is a member of the Junior League of Lafayette and serves on the board of The Family Tree. When she isn't swimming, biking, running, reading, practicing yoga, litigating, or cooking something up in the kitchen, you will find her playing with her two beautiful girls. Adventure is out there!

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