Mother’s Day is Sunday. My youngest bursting with pride presented me with my Mother’s Day gift yesterday. Carefully wrapped with tissue paper and tied off with a teacher’s bow. Inside lay a frame of my son’s art and carefully hand printed rendition of Mommy stuff. My Mom’s name is Karen. My Mom is Nis. My Mom loves Sports.
Apparently, my other two are hard at work on their Mother’s Day gifts and I will receive them Sunday morning. I await with bated breath.
This morning’s Globe and Mail contained Sarah Hampson’s piece on motherhood. It resonated deeply.
She writes,” I think every mother knows, not necessarily right away but little by little with each passing year, that motherhood has shaped her differently. We get stretch marks of the heart and mind.” According to research cited by Sarah, motherhood changes women’s brains, with an increasing volume of grey matter in the mid-brain section. She cites Katherine Ellison’s, The Mommy Brain, for the proposition that bump-dom brings increased perception, resiliency, motivation and EQ.
When I started out as a criminal defence attorney in Toronto, there were not very many women in the bar, and fewer still that were doing the really ugly allegations: murders, crimes of serious violence and organized crime type drug offences. I had to forge a path and did so by digging in for the fight, squaring off against my opponents, adopting the adversarial stance and approach. This worked fine, with acquittal after acquittal.
Then in 2003, my life dramatically altered with the arrival of my first child. Since then, my stance has become less rigid, more fluid – indeed, even, empathetic. My focus and creative approach to my clients’ situations has yielded, arguably, even better results than my pre-kid lawyer self. I now reach out to my opponents and often work for consensus, mediating situations that I would have just litigated before.
In the last decade, many cases have been withdrawn before trial with this approach. Increasingly, with my new post-kid approach, it is not unusual for my clients to even avoid being arrested as pre-emptively mediating with my ‘opponents’ bears fruit. Thus, my clients’ save time, money and the social stigma of being charged and prosecuted. My ‘opponents’, the Crown and the police, have their already heavy burdens lessened just a bit.
I win too. I go away feeling fortified with having helped someone who needed help. But I also free up time to spend with my children, instead of being in a courtroom when to get to a winning solution, it might not be necessary to go there.
Balancing lawyering and motherhood. I know my three children have changed me and how I practice criminal law. I certainly have stretch marks of the heart and mind.