I’m a Gemini. I don’t take much stock in horoscopes. Frankly, I believe they’re wrong more than right. Regardless of my beliefs though, I know that Geminis are supposed to have a split personality. I’m pretty sure that part is true.
I haven’t said a lot about myself on this blog because it is dedicated to the concept of my child, how he behaves, how the mom reacts, what progress is made or not, and in that way, I attempt to expand awareness of the journey raising my ASD son. But to put things in perspective, I think it is necessary to know a little bit about the mom. This is that little bit.
I’ve said it before. I am a lawyer. Some people say “attorney” because they think it sounds nicer. It’s all the same. I used to practice law full time and a half. I’ve tried a few big cases, but that was before my son was born.
I have always represented persons who faced injustices at the hands of the more powerful. Long ago, I tried a medical malpractice case against a neurosurgeon and received a very respective verdict. I was lead counsel, but I admit that I could not have done that without my husband, the daddy. He is also a trial lawyer who is a consummate strategist and skilled professional. (Yeah, I know a lot of you out there either just passed out from shock, or simply cannot believe I said something nice about him!) It’s true. I know how to tell the story. He knows the strategies to win.
We were a great team, my husband and I, trying cases located in different towns, to many juries. I did not say we were a “happy” team because, in the legal profession, I don’t think there is such a thing. We had many arguments and many clashing of egos because he simply did not understand why he was wrong so much of the time… But, in the end, we always did what was best for our clients, and most of the time, we won.
Then, I became a mom and my world changed. Slowly. When my baby was just 3 months old, I traveled 100 miles a day from home to Court and back, to participate in a trial with my husband and our associate attorney. The associate’s wife, a young former pre-school teacher stayed at our home with my son 24/7 while we tried the case. We won, but I knew then, that I would no longer be able to continue this pace. I missed him too much and he was extremely colicky.
During trial, you work the 8-9 hours in the courtroom during the day. Then, you go home and work another 6-8 hours to prepare for the following day. Total, you work about 14-17 hours a day, non-stop, preparing witnesses, putting together documentation, strategizing, marking exhibits, responding to motions to exclude or admit evidence and preparing for your closing argument. This demanding schedule goes on for an average of three to four weeks, straight.
After the trial when my son was a baby, I did one more. I second-chaired. That means, I did not give the opening or closing, I took on only a few witnesses. I played a minor role. We did not win. And that was the last time I saw a jury. I did not go out with a big bang.
The next time a trial came up, my son was having multiple issues including severe separation anxiety, even if I left him for as little a 15-30 minutes. He would completely break down. His caregivers were so freaked out by his behavior that when I left, I would always be called to return. He had not yet been diagnosed with ASD but I knew I could not leave him again for any length of time.
Then, the little guy came down with pneumonia at 2.5 years old. Another trial was set to begin 20 days later. For the biggest case, I’d ever had in my career. I had worked on it for over two years. It involved a very kind widower. He had been exposed to liquid ammonia in a horrific accident that burned and severely damaged his lungs and his eyes. I had been threatened with malicious prosecution and defamation if I pursued it. Multiple attorneys told me to dismiss it and avoid being sued myself. I argued, fought and ignored them all. I found a way. I knew we would win.
Yet, I had to hand that case over to my husband and exit stage left. It was a sad moment for me professionally. There was no ASD diagnosis yet. I did not even know what autism was at that time. I only knew that my son needed me. I knew I had to be there for him. And so, my husband took over the most important case of my career.
When he got the verdict, I remember that I was in Toys R Us with my son, in the Legos aisle. Our associate called me first and floored me with the verdict. It was the largest verdict ever in the county in which it was tried. But I was not there.
My client had won. And he won big. I was filled with happiness for my client’s vindication, for our win and for my two years worth of work. But I was sad and a bit jealous of my husband’s victory because that was supposed to be my case and my win.
Don’t get me wrong. I made a choice. The choice was my son. The choice will always be my son. If I had to do it over again, even if I knew then, what I know now, I’d still stay with my son. He is my first priority. But, it’s hard to give up something that you’d spend years working on and fighting for. I’m sure many of you understand how this feels.
There are still a couple more very important cases waiting in the wings for a trial. Cases that are my research, depositions, involving clients with devastating and personal losses against huge and powerful entities. Clients depend on me and know I know their cases, better than they do themselves. I’m working on being able to be present and leading in those cases.
My son is stronger, older and more mature now. He has a diagnosis and a whole team of people who love and support him. If I am to try these cases, there will have to be a huge team effort to get me out there. I will need a fairy godmother and all the helpers I can find to keep my son supported while I work those horrendous hours. But I believe. I know we can do it. I hope to set up the best team of ASD support for my son that I can.
So, in summary, this is me. The me that you’d met here on this blog before is only 3/4 of the whole me. The whole includes someone who fights, argues, strategizes, gets jealous, sad and envious. But I’m still the same person you hear from here every day. The mom who loves kisses and hugs and cries when my son says he loves me without my asking. The one who smiles at his butterfly kisses and his pouty lips. The person who holds her nose while she cleans his rear end and feeds stinky antibiotics that makes her gag.
I have some consistent traits. I will travel down a path to learn something new and dig for all the information I can uncover. I will delve deeper and keep on digging until I find something. I will examine it in every possible light, from every angle and with every test. Then, I will use it for what power it holds and begin yet another search of the same type to lead me further. If I reach a dead end, I simply backtrack to the fork in the road where I started and go a different direction. It is rare that I will give up. That’s what lawyers do. More importantly, that what moms of children with special needs do. (I bet a lot of you have a similar trait.)
The split personality part is pretty obvious now.
I am a lawyer. I get paid to argue and to win. That is not the way to make friends. That job is borne of social injustice, misdeeds, stress and strife.
I am a mommy. I get paid in something far more important than money. My mommy job is born of love, not strife. That is where I make my friends. The love I have for my son, under most circumstances, begets more love. The exception is if something threatens my son. Just like every mom, if there is any kind of threat to my child, physical or emotional, I will defend him and fight to protect him to the bitter end.
I have found that more times than not, people are generally good when I’m the mommy part of my Gemini split personality. Most people want to share love and support. And, of course, when the good stuff is shared, it comes back to you. The purity and innocence of childhood is a very adhesive bond that brings wonderful people together. And this is what I love, who I am, and how it all works for me.
I must admit, despite my beliefs, I am most definitely, the split personality of a Gemini.