The Soul-Crushing Job That Pays the Bills

When I was very young…like, seven…I told people I was going to go to Radcliffe. Which isn’t even a thing anymore. it’s what girls said when they meant, “Harvard.”

How sad we couldn’t just say, “Harvard.”

But it was in 1972. And I wanted to go there – hadn’t even read “Love Story” yet (which – spoiler alert – is a sack of poo girded in a crispy coat of Patriarchy). I just wanted a great – the BEST – education. So I could be who I wanted to be, whether or not there was a guy around to mansplain the world to me.

I was 8.

And then I realized I was good at school. Good enough, anyway, to get into a good-enough college, and a good-enough law school.

(That’s what we did in the ’80’s. We went to law school. To avoid adulting).

I was 25.

Then I got married, and I got pregnant, and then I got pregnant again, and then I had a sweet baby girl who was autistic and intellectually disabled.

I quit my job. I had to. No one could cope with my sweet baby girl.

Including me.

But I was her mother, and so I did.

Eventually, I went back to work. As a lawyer. Not because I wanted to, but because the costs of having a child with special needs were more than we could bear. I didn’t want to. I desperately DID NOT WANT TO.

But as my father said, “You have a law degree. Get a job.

And so I did.

Fifteen years later, I’m a shareholder in a large insurance defense litigation firm. I’m very good at what I do – better than I need to be – and painfully aware that my intellect probably exceeds what the day-to-day of my job requires. I make a good living. One that is hard to walk away from, especially with a child in college.

I do my job. It pays the bills.

And I am grateful.

My mother did not have the same choices. Her parents could not afford a college education, and there were no student loans. Least of all for women.

My parents paved the way, and I worked hard, and now I’m a lawyer, and I’m proud of what I’ve made possible for my children, but desperately unhappy with the trade-off that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of work I do.

My life is not my own, and the demand to BILL BILL BILL is an open app that runs nonstop.

Men who worked in coal mines 70 years ago didn’t like their jobs, but they did them, without complaint, year after year after fucking year.

They didn’t complain.

And so shouldn’t I.

I’m lucky to have an education, and a job.

I am.

But.

It’s not enough. Never will be.

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