The problem with being a lawyer is that most people (non-lawyers) don't understand what you do. My dad is a lawyer. Whenever I showed any curiosity in his career or had to interview him for "career day" I left the conversation feeling more confused than ever. "I have no idea what my dad does," I thought to myself. Why couldn't my daddy just be a firefighter or a teacher or a doctor?
When I was in lawschool, the parents of the children I babysat always seemed so impressed. "Our babysitter is going to be a lawyer," I heard them brag on one or two occassions. I remember feeling very important. Then one day, a little girl that I babysat for asked me, "What is a lawyer?" The four year old had a very clear picture of what her daddy (a doctor) did at work, "he makes people feel better!" I tried to explain to the four year old the excitement and challenges of litigation and representing people who have been sued. It didn't quite translate into child-speak.
"When people are in car accidents, they have doctors to help them get better and tow trucks to tow their cars and lawyers to help them....um...to protect their....uhhhhh.....to help make sure people don't take all their money."
"Oh, like the police? Where's your gun? Do you have a badge? Have you been to JAIL?"
When you really boil it down, being a lawyer is a very abstract concept. Lawyers get paid to use their brains, think up ideas and arguments, and talk in a language that only the Courts understand. So yeah. That's what I do all day. Think, argue, and interpret.
The other night, I went to happy hour with my boss, his wife, and a mediator. When my boss' wife joined us she asked, "How did your summary judgment hearing go? Did you win your argument about circumstantial evidence? Did you file your motion in limine?"
My eyes bugged straight out of my head. My mouth might have hinged open, like a robot with a malfunctioning jaw. I looked like I had just seen a cat drive a car down a highway. My boss' spouse is one of Them. She's a non-lawyer. How is she conversing so easily about summary judgment motions and circumstanital evidence and motions in limine? I was thoroughly impressed.
My husband likes to talk to me about his work. And I always try my best to sound interested and give the appropriate amount of good feedback and praises. But I have been increasingly frustrated by his lack of ability to know what the heck I do all day. When I try to tell him about a really great ruling we got on a motion, his eyes kind of glaze over. After I explain how excited I am to have found an important case to use in a motion, he turns back to his computer and lets out closed-mouth "huh" sound (oddly, it's the same sound that he often gives me when I ask him if he likes what I made for dinner).
So, I kind of stopped telling him about my day or talking to him about my cases. He has also stopped asking. I've reached the point where I've given up hope of having someone at home to talk to about my days at work. It's a bit isolating and it's very frustrating. Especially when I have an uncontrollable urge to vent about something crazy opposing counsel did or an achievement that we accomplished.
I never wanted to marry a lawyer but I do miss the companionship of someone who can related to my work experiences. I guess this is where a network of lawyer friends come in handy. Maybe someday I will have time for a social life. But honestly, as lame as it sounds, I really like the company of my children right now (which is a good thing because it's often the only company outside of work that I get to enjoy). I never worry about them not laughing at my jokes (all I have to do is throw a fart sound in at the end). Or judging me when I have seconds of cake. Or thinking that I am weird when I throw all caution to the wind and act like a child. I will be so sad when they suddenly become too cool to hang out with mom. Darn, then I will have to go out and find some real friends.