In dating, it’s known as "the big reveal" – the point in an emerging relationship where both participants put everything out on the table, from old flames to skeletons in the closet to religious preferences and desire for marriage and children. Deciding when to make the big reveal is tricky. Disclose too soon and you run the risk of committing a TMI (too much information) or reeking of desperation. Withhold too long and you may be accused of dishonesty.
We parents who practice grapple with our own version of the big reveal: when (if ever) to tell clients about our children or to use a child related-excuse for non-availability. Nearly thirteen years ago, as a baby-lawyer and new mom, I rarely mentioned my new baby at all in a professional context. If I knew that my daughter was likely to be awake during a proposed phone call time, I’d simply suggest an alternative without giving a reason for my lack of availability. As I grew more experienced and gained confidence, I experimented with sharing my personal side, for example, sending a holiday card with a family photo to those clients and colleagues with whom I had a close connection. Even so, one colleague chided me for sending it, saying it was unprofessional.
Over at the White House website, I see that Michelle Obama’s formal bio describes her as a mom first. I wonder whether Mrs. Obama ever used that same description as a biglaw attorney or corporate counsel. Does she have the luxury of making the big reveal because she’s now First Lady – or have times changed such that mentioning family in a professional context is more accepted.
With my daughters almost 10 and 13, in some ways the big reveal isn’t as important. My girls are self sufficient. I no longer need to rush home by 4 pm to greet the bus or find a babysitter for my girls if I have a meeting or stay home if I can’t. – which cuts down on the need to make child-care related excuses. But I’m also sufficiently established, and no longer fear that I won’t be taken seriously if I mention my kids.
Now, it’s your turn. Use the comments below to reveal when – or if- you make the big reveal, as well as your reaction to those lawyers who do.