Today, I snapped my final back-to-school photo of my younger daughter Mira leaving for the first day of her senior year, and with the quiet and unceremonious click of my iPhone shutter, this era of my life comes to a close (of course, it goes without saying that I’m still entitled to first-day photos even if I’m not the one taking them!). A year from now, both girls will be gone , and this phase of parenthood with its four o’clock hard stop and constant scrambling and precarious balancing pass from up close and very personal to a fading vision in the rearview window. Bittersweet to say the least – though if my husband was here , he’d smile and say that we ought to celebrate a job well done.
Though I’ve documented my own experience as a woman lawyer, parenting and practicing over my nearly 14 years blogging at MyShingle, I really don’t have any real words of advice for where we as a society or a profession go from here to accommodate parents during child-rearing years. Like the discomfort of pregnancy or pain of childbirth, the crazy, frenetic. stressful self-doubting years between babyhood and the teen years fade so quickly and while you can marvel that you actually got through it, you can’t necessarily explain how you did it.
Plus, today’s world is so very different from when I started my parenting journey — more opportunities for sure, but tougher economic times too — and while I don’t regret my choices, I’m not so sure I’d have made the same ones ten or twenty years later. Family situations and kids differ too – – something that rarely enters the “universal solution” parenting advocates vision — choices that I made with two relatively self-sufficient daughters and a two-parent family may not work for a special-needs child or academic prodigy or a single-parent household. At the end of the day, it seems that there’s no one answer; as best we can and in a world where technology facilitates customized solutions to everything from medicine to the look of your email box, there’s no reason why we can’t make it all work out.