Mommy, Do We Have A Job Today?

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Marissa Rauch

"Mommy do we have a job today?" are the first words my five-year-old daughter utters as she walks into my room wiping the sleep from her eyes. "Yes, honey, we do," I reply, since it is summer, which equals no school and no help. We need to go to work to pay for food and baseball cards (her current passion). This is her life, the life that I chose for us, so we could spend our time together.

Our life is a far cry from my previous profession doing trade legislation for a high profile law firm. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and was pretty sure my 8 a.m.-8 p.m. grind would not work for me as a mother. As a result, several years before I adopted my daughter, I started photographing children full-time, turning a hobby into a career. It has not always been easy; there are high times and low times financially, neither of which match up to the stability or amount of my previous paycheck. Starting my own business was financially humbling; after six years, I now make about half what I used to. Good thing I saved up before leaving my other job. I worked both jobs for a while in order to set up a proper studio and darkroom. I manage to pay the bills; there are some times of the year that are definitely tougher than others. I started selling women's clothes out of my home to ease the hard times and to fund a vacation, savings and the occasional house emergency. I am very lucky to have made some good decisions in the real estate market and to carry only a small mortgage.

Now, how did I end up here? I have never been a person to follow the so-called rules of life, get a job, get married, and have kids. ... No, I quit my job to follow my passion because I thought that it would ultimately be a better lifestyle for me. Following a failed relationship, I started the process to adopt my daughter as a single person, fulfilling a promise to myself that I would never be 40 without a child. There was no way on earth I could know how important that decision would become two years later when I got cancer. My daughter became the force that kept me fighting. It is impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you have an almost three-year-old to tend to. She always managed to make me laugh, even at the worst times. Now I live my life in five year plans. Who knows what is next?

Now this is her life, and mine: Take pictures and work with Mommy, a community of kids and parents from the good public school in our neighborhood, wonderful vacation travel when we can afford it. I mostly photograph families, so much of my work is on the weekends when there is no school. My daughter is my assistant, filling up my camera bag with film and accompanying me to work. She knows no different. I have to admit our life is a bit unorthodox, but it works. She has saved many a photo shoot by climbing on top of my head as I'm taking pictures and making the children convulse with laughter. This is the life that I wanted; often chaotic, but always satisfying.

Marissa Rauch and her daughter live in Washington, D.C. You can see her work at www.marissarauchphotography.com or reach her at marissa@marissarauchphotography.com.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 24, 2006; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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I have the utmost respect for those who choose to adopt. In today's day and age of "designer babies" and gender preferences taken to a horrifying extreme, it is nice and refreshing to hear about those who truly want to parent. And not just parent, but love and nurture a child that is not biologically their's.

Kudos to those who decide to take in a child that's already here in this world!

Posted by: literarygirl | October 24, 2006 7:52 AM

Now that is the definition of balance...being satisfied with life's choices. tweeter one way, totter the other.

you go girl!

Posted by: dotted | October 24, 2006 7:54 AM

Great post. How nice to hear from someone who is happy with the choices she has made!

Posted by: dc | October 24, 2006 7:58 AM

Ladies and gentlement, I think we've finally found someone who gets it, and I give her all kinds of credit for following her passions and having the courage to give up steady, large paychecks to do it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 7:59 AM

Hooray! Someone who lives life to its fullest (and takes beautiful pictures - look at her site).

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 24, 2006 8:03 AM

Brava... an actual example of work-life balance from a mother not of the upper-middle-class Beltway crowd.

Posted by: kim p | October 24, 2006 8:04 AM

It sounds like Marissa has done a wonderful job of figuring out what's important to her, and putting her priorities first.

Her mention of cancer brings to mind something my husband and I have struggled with: Have you written a will designating guardians for your kids? How do you choose?

This is changing now, but for quite a while it seemed like our options were our kids' grandparents (who are getting kind of old to chase after little ones all day), siblings whose lives wouldn't really accomodate kids, and siblings who had decided against having their own kids.

I guess I feel like it's important to keep my kids with immediate family, friends and cousins weren't ever seriously considered.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 24, 2006 8:21 AM

So nice and refreshing to see this post. So much better than whiny upper class posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 8:32 AM

To: YetanotherSAHM. We set up wills, guardianship, power or attorney, exectutors etc after our daughter was born. We found out in the process that if you do not have something in place in VA, your kids become wards of the state and the state makes decisions about which family members they go to, how the estate is administered etc. So we have my sister and brother in law as guardians, with my best friend and her husband as executors and back ups for all the "jobs" listed in our will. Also, we set up our living wills at the same time so as not to end up in a Terry Schiavo nightmare situation and have made our wishes very clear.
We also got very good life insurance independent of our jobs. My husband and I grew up in a war zone so we know that we can die young whether healthy or not. When you have little kids, you have to be prepared. Good luck figuring it out.

Posted by: FC mom | October 24, 2006 8:36 AM

YetAnotherSAHM - do you have access to someone with an online subscription to Wall Street Journal? The Fiscally Fit column covered choosing a guardian on April 20th. It's subscription based or I'd post it here.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 24, 2006 8:38 AM

First off, congratulations to Marissa for finding a way to balance her life and career at the same time and find time for both.

RE: guardians for children. That's been something on my mind as well when we do find ourselves with a child. While the chance that both myself and my wife would die simultaneously, the possibility does exist, and no way in h*ll I want the state to decide what's best for any child of mine.

Trouble is, she has no living relatives left, my sister is over 50 and her son just left home, and there's no other relative I'd consider. Perhaps a friend, but I'm not ready to broach that subject to them at this time, at least until I know for sure a child will be a reality. My wife and I have more than ample life insurance, so a trust fund would be set up for the child, but finding someone to see to their wellbeing who is both trustworthy and capable of caring for them will be necessary.

Posted by: John | October 24, 2006 8:54 AM

Very nice and touching blog. Adoption is such a great gesture. One of the most wonderful things you can do for another human being is provide them with a loving home. Congrats on being able to navigate your course so successfully.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 24, 2006 8:55 AM

I am so happy for you. I have a five year old and also quit my lucrative professional job to pursue a personal passion as a business. Unfortunately, I had to call it quits on that experiment last year and now work full time in a more manageable position. But I am definitely happier and wiser for having pursued it. It is heartening to read about someone who could make it work.

I once had a coworker who was 42, single and lamenting she had no chance of having a child. She did not dream big like you and died of a broken heart. How I wish she had your gusto!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 8:57 AM

Kudos to you, Marissa. Parttimer.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 9:01 AM

I applaud your strength, Marissa!

We don't all have the option of being courageous and being able to follow our dreams like you do. I think a lot of that is to do with our own tolerance for taking that leap of faith. I wish you well with your dream - it's amazing, and inspirational to me.

My dream isn't to quit my job, but to allow my partner to quit hers so we can have a stay at home parent for the infant I hope to carry in the next year (dependant on my being able to get her on my health insurance). I hope that it will be a reality - but it may just take that leap of faith. Thank you for sharing your story!

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | October 24, 2006 9:10 AM

This is a lovely guest blog! Good for you adopting and giving your daughter such a wonderful, balanced life.

Posted by: scarry | October 24, 2006 9:21 AM

Hooray for you, Marissa, it's wonderful to read about someone who has followed their dreams and made it work.

On guardians, I've read that it is also important to designate someone to make health-care decisions for your child in the event that both parents are temporarily incapacitated (ie, if everyone is in a car wreck, god forbid). The guardianship may not become effective since you are still living, but someone needs to be able to make decisions on behalf of the minors. One article I read recommended designating a couple of people so there are options in case of an emergency. We are in the process of finding an attorney to set all this up, we've been much too lazy about it because of the pitfalls in choosing people...

Posted by: Megan | October 24, 2006 9:23 AM

Marissa, great blog!

Posted by: alex. mom | October 24, 2006 9:30 AM

Good for you Marissa. I think it is great that your daughter can go to work with you. Also it is awesome that you choose adoption. My husband and I are in the early stages of applying to adopt an infant girl from Viet Nam.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 24, 2006 9:35 AM

Ok, this is a cute story and I think your daughter is having a lot of fun, but remember, she's your daughter and not an assistant because I've seen time and again kids lose interest in helping Mom or Dad and then they're left trying to find daycare because they can't lose interest in their job. It would probably be smarter not to have your daughter go to work with you than it would be to have that happen. And if you can't afford daycare then you may also have to ask yourself the difficult question: is your half-salary really cutting it in these inflationary times or are you just squeezing by? That's not something we can determine from your piece. Either way, it's not your daughter's job.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 24, 2006 9:39 AM

Her pictures are really nice too!

Posted by: scarry | October 24, 2006 9:40 AM

I think it's a very nice perspective and a lovely guest blog, but I was a little put off by the comments like "this is the life I chose for us" and the note that she is "fulfilling a promise to myself that I would never be 40 without a child."

That doesn't sound like balance to me--that sounds like a person on a crash course ahead, doing whatever SHE wants, dragging her kid along for the ride, potentially at the expense of balance, harmony and the kid's interests and development. Did anyone else get a twinge of that from reading this perspective on motherhood?

As a lawyer myself, I know all too well that you can take the lawyer out of the law firm, but you can't take the lawyer out of the lawyer. Sounds like there's still quite a bit of that going on here.

I think this is a serious lack of balance disguised in the clothing of balance because the author has a flexible job and can spend time with her child during the day. I don't think that's a true work-life-family balance, particularly in this case, just given the nature of the comments lurking in the background.

Posted by: MSL | October 24, 2006 9:41 AM

Congratulations on working hard to find a creative, sensible way to both make a living and include your daughter in your life. She will learn so much from helping you out -- about responsibility, accountability, business, and the importance of spending time with your family and being a team.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 9:46 AM

What a great look at a more freelance type lifestyle, thank you! I personally think it's great for kids to see their parents work and help out (agree appropriately, and not to excess) - kind of hearkens back to the family farm type arrangement.

Posted by: Shandra | October 24, 2006 9:46 AM

"I think it's a very nice perspective and a lovely guest blog, but I was a little put off by the comments like "this is the life I chose for us" and the note that she is "fulfilling a promise to myself that I would never be 40 without a child."

Is it the fact that she chose her way of life that bothers you? Some people do choose, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

I sense some jealousy perhaps? That she's doing what she loves, and involving her child? Not a lot of parents can say that. And what's wrong with her having that goal of becoming a mother by 40?

I'm rather confused by this blog sometimes. There's a problem with those who choose not to have children, and now there's a problem because someone wanted to by a certain age? Makes no sense...

Posted by: literarygirl | October 24, 2006 9:53 AM

Marissa, great job! I hope everyone treats you with the respect you deserve today. I have to also say that I feel a little disappointed that I can't view the photographs on your web site, but I will send the link to my daughter as she is taking photography as an elective at her high school.

If you check in today, maybe you'll satisfy my curiosity about choosing to be a single mother. Are you looking for a male role model for that wonderful daughter of yours to add to your balancing act with your current family situation? Or would that be moving backwards?

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 24, 2006 9:54 AM

"it is summer, which equals no school and no help."

I've read this over and over an dI can't make sense of it. I get the "no school" but what does "no help" mean? Does Marissa have an assistant the rest of the year and it is only during the summer that she has "no help" and therefore her daughter helps instead. But her daughter does help, so it isn't fair to say summer = "no help."

I am missing something obvious, right?

PS-- yes, I just watched comedian Lewis Black do his "If it weren't for my horse, I would have never spent that year in college . . " routine.

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | October 24, 2006 9:57 AM

"it is summer, which equals no school and no help."

I've read this over and over an dI can't make sense of it. I get the "no school" but what does "no help" mean? Does Marissa have an assistant the rest of the year and it is only during the summer that she has "no help" and therefore her daughter helps instead. But her daughter does help, so it isn't fair to say summer = "no help."

I am missing something obvious, right?

PS-- yes, I just watched comedian Lewis Black do his "If it weren't for my horse, I would have never spent that year in college . . " routine.

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | October 24, 2006 9:57 AM

Bethesdan -

I disagree completely with the idea that it is better for a child to be in daycare than with a parent engaging in a fun, stimulating, learning experience. So what if this experience is the parent's work? The child is cared for and loved, is exposed to all sorts of different people, and is with her mom. I do agree that the child shouldn't be "required" to work alongside the parent, but it doesn't sound like that's what's happening here.

MSL - " I don't think that's a true work-life-family balance, particularly in this case, just given the nature of the comments lurking in the background."

I have to admit - I don't see the comments you see. But how is this situation any different than any person who "quits the rat race" to open a business doing something they love? Family businesses are often a family affair where the children go to work with their parents, play, interact with people, and once they're old enough, start helping out.


Posted by: momof4 | October 24, 2006 9:59 AM

I also applaud Marissa for making these difficult choices-- having a dream, goals, and making it happen. Too many people let life lead them, rather than making what they want out of life. It's great to see someone who is willing to make bold moves to acheive the life they want.

Posted by: Ms L | October 24, 2006 10:01 AM

I took the "no help" comment as simply meaning that she doesn't have automatic childcare for her daughter, so she is with her full time. (And I don't mean that in a derogatory way - I don't think that school should be considered built-in childcare, but for many families, it is "help" in that area.)

Posted by: momof4 | October 24, 2006 10:03 AM

What a touching story! This may be the best guest blog yet.

Posted by: Not a mom | October 24, 2006 10:08 AM

This situation seems to work for now - Mommy does what she loves, and she and the little one spend lots of time together.

However, I can see MSL's point that it's all about Marissa right now. Of course, a 3-year-old isn't in a position to choose much of anything, but as she gets older, she may want to play soccer or take piano lessons or go to summer camp rather than be Mommy's assistant all the time. I hope Marissa is prepared to adjust and adapt as her daughter gets older and develops her own passions, even if those conflict with Mommy's. This is part of the balancing act parents face as their children grow, isn't it?

Posted by: LoudounLibrarian | October 24, 2006 10:14 AM

Good for Marissa for finding what works for her and going for it. And for not waiting for someone to give her the life she wants. This is a very positive message today, to counter the overload of "man-shortage" stories I've been seeing of late. I also like the adoption angle.

As for taking her child along to work, if the child is happy and mom is happy, then I think it's great.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 24, 2006 10:21 AM

I agree the "no help" probably refers to child care. I looked at her pictures and a lot of them are of babies. So she probably tries to photograph the babies and non school aged children during the week day when her daughter is in school. Then try to book other appointments on weekends. Whether anyone wants to admit it, school does also serve as a child care facility. Even SAHPs are thrilled when school resumes and they can get a few things done with out the munchkins.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 24, 2006 10:28 AM

In response to some of the questions, no help was just referring to the fact that she was not in school during the day and with me all day. Maybe I misspoke. I do not consider school help, but it is time when I do work and she is not with me. Also, she does not always come to work with me, she does have play dates and went to camp for a week or 2. Many times I wish she was there because she has the ability to make the kids laugh alot. I do travel alot for work in the summer, so she comes along. It is a great mix of fun for us and work for me. And by the way, she is on the soccer team (I arrange all of my jobs around her games to be able to cheer her on.)

She does have some strong male role models in her life. I think it is important.

Posted by: Marissa | October 24, 2006 10:29 AM

"I hope Marissa is prepared to adjust and adapt as her daughter gets older and develops her own passions, even if those conflict with Mommy's."

I think that has probably already happened to Marissa, since her daughter is five and she did mention a community of friends from their neighborhood school. She's no different than any working parent in this regard - I would say that the vast majority of working parents spend most of their child's early life worrying mostly about their child's basic needs and their jobs and have to adapt as their child gets older and develops their own interests. And your'e right, things get a lot more complicated then.

Posted by: momof4 | October 24, 2006 10:29 AM

Great guest blog. Good for you, Marissa. I have a friend here in Phoenix who is getting ready to adopt as a single mother (and she, too, is a lawyer/lobbyist). We don't work the insane WDC 60+ hours/week here, so she should be able to do well as a single parent and keep her current position.

Posted by: single western mom | October 24, 2006 10:34 AM

This was such a beautiful blog. I love that Marissa has followed her dreams, both of motherhood and photagraphy. She is clearly a gifted photographer, and her daughter is lucky to get to participate in her mother's work. When kids are young, this kind of thing makes them feel important and valuable. I bring my son to work every now and then and he loves it. Kudos to you, Marissa.

Posted by: Emily | October 24, 2006 10:46 AM

I do not think that single parenting is something to which people should aspire. Most of the blogs agree that she should do it her way (a la Sinatra). It seems kind of selfish to me. What about the (failed) relationship? Probably was not a marriage. The child deserves a father.

Posted by: R M Kraus | October 24, 2006 10:54 AM

I do not think that single parenting is something to which people should aspire. Most of the blogs agree that she should do it her way (a la Sinatra). It seems kind of selfish to me. What about the (failed) relationship? Probably was not a marriage. The child deserves a father.

Posted by: R M Kraus | October 24, 2006 10:55 AM

"If it weren't for my horse, if it weren't for my horse..."

Way to follow your dreams, Marissa! I'm sure there are many people out there who have the same goals but are too afraid to go after them. Congrats, and I hope the cancer stays in remission.

Posted by: Meesh | October 24, 2006 11:00 AM

Kraus, the child had no parents before Marissa adopted her. I'm sure she's thrilled to have any parents at all. Implying that it's not enough insults single parents everywhere.

Posted by: Meesh | October 24, 2006 11:02 AM

"Implying that it's not enough insults single parents everywhere."

Indeed. As well as the products of single parents everywhere.

My mother also had a failed relationship with my father because he was physically abusive towards her. No doubt, he would've eventually started on me. So, my mother raised me on her own.

Sometimes a single parent situation is immeasurably better than a two-parent one.

Whether this is her situation or not, what does it matter? She's given this child a life most kids that are "unwanted" never see.

Posted by: literarygirl | October 24, 2006 11:11 AM

Some children have two parents who beat them too! Two doesn't equal better.

Posted by: scarry | October 24, 2006 11:12 AM

I have a young sibling who is starting her own business from scratch and sympathize completely what an enterprise that is, and have the upmost repsect for women entrepreneurs. I commend you for thinking outside the box and following your passion. I cannot believe how much work goes into your business as well as raising a child. All the best and much success.

Posted by: momtobe | October 24, 2006 11:22 AM

I've said this before; it is better for a child to have one parent she knows loves and will care for her, than to have two that cannot get along together. If those are the two choices, I have no problem with a single parent raising a child alone.

Posted by: John | October 24, 2006 11:24 AM

The child deserves a father.

Oh get over yourself. The child deserves a parent who loves her. She has that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a one parent family, especially when that parent is loving and able to care for and support the child. Anything else is icing on the cake. What is selfish is to think that your way is the only good way. That is selfish and arrogant (and WRONG).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 11:26 AM

I never got that is better to leave a child an orphan then have one parent adopt them. Would you rather the child sit in an orphanage or foster care and have no one in the whole world to love them? Ideally kids would have two parents who have a vested interest and commitment to them. Some would even argue the two should be a male and female. Although that is up for debate. But clearly one parent is better then no parent. It is just silly to assume that having no parents is a better situation then being an orphan. I personally am glad I am not parenting by myself. But I applaud all who do it well. I agree with Scarry, two parents is far worse then one good parent. Just ask the abused and neglected children.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 24, 2006 11:35 AM

I meant to say two BAD parents is worse the one GOOD parent.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 24, 2006 11:36 AM

'I do not think that single parenting is something to which people should aspire.'

I don't really believe that people aspire to be single parents. I do think that people aspire to be parents as part of a committed couple (including same-sex). But life happens. And sometimes the 'couple' part of the plan doesn't happen. Then many of the individuals look to being a parent on their own. It's a wonderful thing for the adopted children to become part of a new family, even if it isn't a 'traditional' family.

Posted by: mj | October 24, 2006 11:37 AM

Almost 40 years and failing to form a permanent bond with another human?

What the hell, try bonding with a baby. It's got to be so much easier. If it doesn't work out, oh well, just chalk it up as another failed relationship and move on to the next phase in life.

Posted by: Risky | October 24, 2006 11:41 AM

To Risky:

Not getting married does not equal "failing to form a permanent bond with another human." Romatic relationships are not the only things that bind us. What about friends?

Posted by: Rita | October 24, 2006 11:49 AM

Of course the ideal is for a child to have 2 parents. But the fact is she adopted a child who has no parents and is providing a home for that child. I bet her daughter will be eternally grateful to her mom for rescuing her from life as an orphan.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 24, 2006 11:54 AM

It looks likes we all want to encourage premeditated single parenthood today.

Great!

Posted by: To Rita | October 24, 2006 11:59 AM

To R M Kraus -- get over yourself. If you think that a single woman (or man) should not adopt, then why don't you and your spouse adopt? There are hundreds of thousands of children out there who need families -- and that's just in the U.S.

Then again, with an attitude like yours, you might not get through the social services reviews.

Posted by: Adoptive Mom | October 24, 2006 12:02 PM

Who needs a dad anyway? They are not all what they are cracked up to be.

Posted by: Risky | October 24, 2006 12:03 PM

I can't believe people are getting so worked up about a woman who became a single mother by ADOPTION. She made a parentless child's life better by providing a loving home, as numerous people have already said. It's not like she went and created another human life to raise by herself. Seems to me that people were bored with the fact that people generally liked today's blog, so felt like they had to stir up some controversy.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 12:03 PM

It looks likes we all want to encourage premeditated single parenthood today.

Great!


Posted by: To Rita

I'd say it looks like we want to encourage premeditated, LOVING parenthood today, recognizing that it is superior to unexpected, unwanted, and potentially abusive parenting regardless of the numbers involved. Marissa has provided her daughter with a happy and loving home, which is a heck of a lot more than a lot of kids with two parents ever get.

Posted by: Megan | October 24, 2006 12:04 PM

Excellent column, Marissa. Congratulations on finding your own way to balance and happiness.

Posted by: ignore naysayers | October 24, 2006 12:05 PM

Who needs a dad anyway? They are not all what they are cracked up to be.

Posted by: Risky | October 24, 2006 12:03 PM


No, not all of them are. For example, the one who either walked away from this child or was so horrible that the state terminated his parental rights obviously was not "all he was cracked up to be." Thank goodness this child found another loving parent who is actually living up to the responsibility of being a parent.

Posted by: Megan | October 24, 2006 12:06 PM

Forgot to say in my last post: Great going Marissa!!! You have on lucky daughter who will build on her (working) experiences with you and your interactions with lots of other people and become a very interesting woman herself. Kudos. Don't let the negative bloggers here get you down...

BTW, today's is the most positive set of interactions I've seen on this blog. It's rather nice for a change.

Posted by: Adoptive Mom | October 24, 2006 12:09 PM

I get your point, but there is a possibility that the child's father died.

Posted by: to Megan | October 24, 2006 12:41 PM

literarygirl:

No jealousy here.

Maybe I'm reading into what was said, and while I respect and admire a parent who involves a child in her daily work-life, I hesitate to applaud a parent whose career a) doesn't seem to provide a stable income for her kid; and b) seems to foreclose many, many options to a child as she grows and matures because of the nature of the business and the mother's "choice."

While I understand the business of parenting and family involves a lot of give-and-take, this just seems like a case of the mother saying "This is my life, and this is my new career, and this is what I like and this is when I wanted to have a kid" and the poor kid doesn't seem to have much to do with any of it.

I think someone made the point above--what about piano lessons, and sports on weekends that are going to interfere with those photography engagements--what then? I think everyone may be quick to applaud the writer's balancing of work-and-life, but perhaps we are not adequately questioning her balancing of work-and-family simply because she involves her daughter so intimately in her work. And the point I was trying to make is that it deserves to be questioned. There is subtext to what was written. That's all I'm saying.

Posted by: MSL | October 24, 2006 12:43 PM

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf

Get out there 11/7.

Posted by: Real Family Values | October 24, 2006 12:45 PM

(Doh. HTML Tags don't work here.)

Posted by: Real Family Values | October 24, 2006 12:46 PM

So how is your situation differnt? You ostensibly chose to become a lawyer because that's what YOU wanted to do, not because your child told you to. And Marissa already replied that her child plays soccer - you're simply assuming that because in the space of 300 words she didn't describe every activity the kids engages in, she's being prohibited by her evil mommy from doing anything.

Why are you looking for the bad in this? Because you can't take the lawyer out of yourself?

Posted by: to MSL | October 24, 2006 12:48 PM

Hey stop bashing the lawyers :) We are not all bad!

Kudos to Marissa and Kudos to most of the posters for keeping this a nice blog today. The mantra that I live by is as follows: if mom and dad are happy, the kids are too. OBVIOUSLY this is not always true, but it has worked for us.

Posted by: Marie | October 24, 2006 12:53 PM

Honestly, I think it's admirable that she admits times are tough, because when aren't they for nearly everyone? Still, she's doing what she loves, and I think that hits a sore spot for those who may not be doing so for themselves. And I didn't get any implication that she's struggling to feed or clothe her daughter at all.

I am rather surprised that as a Childfree person here, I am the one coming to her defense. But maybe it's because I too was a product of a single-parent home, and all of those piano lessons, church events, school plays, etc., were worked out--either with my mom being involved in getting me to or from there, or a friend's parents.

I really don't see that she's coming across with the attitude "well my kid is going to be my assistant forever, and she's never going to have any friends or social life outside of me."

Posted by: literarygirl | October 24, 2006 12:58 PM

From the child's perspective (although I'm now an adult) going to work with daddy was always totally wonderful. My mother stayed home with us, but there were lots of us, and so from the time I was 8 or 9, I would jump at a chance to go to work with my father, a pediatrician. The Marissa-bashers may feel compelled to turn my father into child protective services, but I even thought that sitting around the ER with a book while he checked on patients was interesting and kind of fun. He always told me not to go with anyone, not to answer questions, and if any hospital employee questioned me, to tell that who he was and that I wasn't to leave my seat until he returned. He also used to go into the men's room, make sure it was empty, and then stand outside so I could use the bathroom (and this was the late 60's and early 70's at Fairfax Hosp.)

I also sat in his office, pulling files for him on some weekends and I even got to help him prepare for patients by locating what he needed from the supply cabinent.

Going to work with a parent, even if it happens all the time, is a great way to open up the child's mind. I saw how people treated my father, how grateful they were, how different he was as my father and as the doctor - and how similar. I saw people in pain and realized how lucky I was.

And I cherish the book the Velveteen Rabbit b/c one of his patient's mothers gave it to me at the hospital. I couldn't go into the room b/c the patient was in isolation, and the mother couldn't give him the book b/c it wasn't sterile. It was my first copy. A week after she gave it to me, my father told me that the child (younger than me) had died of his illness. I learned more when I went to work with my father than I ever did in school.

Posted by: Doctor's daughter | October 24, 2006 1:05 PM

LiteraryGirl,

Right on. People on this blog are determined to poke holes in anybody's story and think a single mother with an adopted child of all things are prime targets.

All those trying to portray Marissa as the bad person, take a good hard look at yourselves. None of you seem to have done anything for yourselves and always tried to put your child before everything, in your dreams.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 1:06 PM

Kudos to Marisa for following what she wants to do in life professionally and personally by adopting; before taking the leap she seemed to have made financial provisions for the the hard times as well as try working a more flexible schedule to spend time with the child she adopted - I would love to have a talent like that! What would we all be saying about if she stayed a lawyer, working 60+ hours a week, and adopted a child.

As for those that are against premeditated single parenting; it is not ideal but sometimes I am just so glad that I am single - there is no one for me to argue with in front of my child, I do not have to worry about conflicting messages when disciplining, and I can spent 100% of my down time concentrating on my daughter rather than sharing it with a spouse... as for a Dad, she has strong male influences as with the girl in this article. As for activities, sounds like the girl is well rounded... it seems like something that some two parent families should aspire to!

Posted by: single mom | October 24, 2006 1:08 PM

To MSL ""This is my life, and this is my new career, and this is what I like and this is when I wanted to have a kid" and the poor kid doesn't seem to have much to do with any of it."

Are you trying to say that the *child* should dictate to the parent what type of job the parent takes? Five year olds know better than an adult? I choose a job that I enjoy doing, at a pay I can live on, that affords me sufficient flexibility to spend time with my family. That was an adult decision. Now, if you asked my daughter what job I should have, she would probably choose "ballerina" or something similarly impractical! Also note that my daughter did not "choose" when I gave birth to her, but I don't hear her complaining about that either.

Or are you trying to say that Marissa didn't consider her child's needs when she embarked on a new career? It sounds like the opposite to me. She found a job she loves doing that allows her to spend a significant amount of time with her daughter. How in the world can you find something WRONG with that?!

What exactly is your point, MSL? I think you're just trying to be nasty.

Posted by: Working Mother | October 24, 2006 1:09 PM

Marissa is balancing just fine. She has a home and a small mortgage. That's a plus. She has a flexible job that pays the bills. That's a plus. She is very good at her job. That's a plus. She could go back to her old profession if her new business failed. That's a plus. She knows how to market her skills. That's a plus. She has enough money for savings, vacation, and the house emergency fund. That's plus. Her child is involved in sports and does go to summer camp some of the summer. That's a plus. She is involved in a community in a neighborhood she loves. That is a plus. The people who insist in seeing the negatives are prone to see the negative in everything. Their negative perspectives say more about them than about Marissa. Kudos to Marissa.

Posted by: Emily | October 24, 2006 1:12 PM

I think this is a wonderful blog from a woman who took the courage to quit a lucrative career in order to follow her heart after her adoption of her little girl.

It is a balance in many ways, she can focus on her joy of her career and still spend many life enriching moments with her little one.

How wonderful, time spent together does not necessarily mean to play together 24/7.....even when I do housework I am still interacting with my child ie. I vacuum, he follows me around with his little vacuum, when I dust we play peekaboo etc.

This child will grow up to learn about her environment from many different perspectives being involved in her mother's photography is a great learning experience and I am sure she will treasure these memories as she grows.

This mother in the blog is a surviver and she deserves our respect and admiration!

Posted by: Mom in Canada | October 24, 2006 1:13 PM

to MSL,

Regarding living off a limited income, yes, a parent should save enough and provide financially what they can for their child, but I imagine there are things that come up unexpectedly. Cancer, as well as being a strain emotionally and physically, can also be a financial setback. But parent(s) move forward and make due with what they got all the time. And whose to say that teaching a child about living within one's income or fighting a life-threatening disease isn't as valuable as teaching them the importance of making a lot of money, especially when you can't always prepare for what life throws at you. Piano lessons are something a parent can invest in for the future, but for someone battling cancer, time with a child is priceless.

Posted by: momtobe | October 24, 2006 1:21 PM

"-MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf

Get out there 11/7."

Yes, get out and vote against all of these "family values" frauds.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 1:27 PM

ON BALANCE, I think this was a terrific posting today -- and response.

MSL -- you've got some issues about parenting. Money isn't everything. You seem to have enough of it, and you're miserable. I'd rather have Marissa as a mom.

REAL FAMILY VALUES- - As for your suggested ballot choices, spare us.

Posted by: Adoptive Mom | October 24, 2006 1:27 PM

"I really don't see that she's coming across with the attitude 'well my kid is going to be my assistant forever, and she's never going to have any friends or social life outside of me.'"

I agree. What I read in her description of her daughter "working" with her is the same kind of thing as, "Mary helped me make dinner tonight" when four-year-old Mary has folded the napkins and picked out which potatoes to cook. It's the idea of the child being a "little helper," that's all. Seems really sweet to me.

Posted by: pittypat | October 24, 2006 1:32 PM

"She found a job she loves doing that allows her to spend a significant amount of time with her daughter. How in the world can you find something WRONG with that?!"

And if you can, MSL, then you're really saying that the whole idea of balance is selfish. That, if you've created a good like for you and your family -- a life you're actually happy with and which works for your kids -- then you must be selfish.

If that's the case, what's the point in working toward balance?

Posted by: pittypat | October 24, 2006 1:36 PM

great My Turn from Newsweek (single moms - this is for you!): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15362379/site/newsweek/

Posted by: The original just a thought | October 24, 2006 1:37 PM

I truely do not understand this attitude. It seems many people believe that after having children they should promptly drop all ambition and live only through their children - meaning that all dreams and goals end.

My mother lived like this. It caused her to end up greatly depressed, lose both of her children (our father took us when she could no longer cope) and left both my brother and I with deep scars inside.

I am a single working mother today of one child and am lucky enough to have in-laws that take my child once every other weekend. I also go to college part-time partly for the degree, partly for the intellectual stimulation.

My mother, who I am now close to, is clearly jealous of the freedom that I have that she did not allow herself. She makes negative comments about my "poor child" because I go to college. If I mention that I'm looking forward to a break when the in-laws are taking my daughter, she asks how I can say such a horrible thing (that I need time away). She tries to make me feel guilty for having to work ("poor little girl in daycare all day").

I truely believe that my mother's attitude (and the attitude I regularly see on this blog and today is exhibited by MSL) is spawned by jealousy. Jealousy that another woman can be a parent AND be happy. Jealousy that somebody else doesn't suffer with unhappiness, depression, and in my mother's case, extreme resentment of her children. And instead of recognizing these emotions for what they are and dealing with them like an adult, these women choose instead to lash out at the women they are jealous in a hateful, superior manner.

Posted by: one lurker of many | October 24, 2006 1:39 PM

I truely do not understand this attitude. It seems many people believe that after having children they should promptly drop all ambition and live only through their children - meaning that all dreams and goals end.

My mother lived like this. It caused her to end up greatly depressed, lose both of her children (our father took us when she could no longer cope) and left both my brother and I with deep scars inside.

I am a single working mother today of one child and am lucky enough to have in-laws that take my child once every other weekend. I also go to college part-time partly for the degree, partly for the intellectual stimulation.

My mother, who I am now close to, is clearly jealous of the freedom that I have that she did not allow herself. She makes negative comments about my "poor child" because I go to college. If I mention that I'm looking forward to a break when the in-laws are taking my daughter, she asks how I can say such a horrible thing (that I need time away). She tries to make me feel guilty for having to work ("poor little girl in daycare all day").

I truely believe that my mother's attitude (and the attitude I regularly see on this blog and today is exhibited by MSL) is spawned by jealousy. Jealousy that another woman can be a parent AND be happy. Jealousy that somebody else doesn't suffer with unhappiness, depression, and in my mother's case, extreme resentment of her children. And instead of recognizing these emotions for what they are and dealing with them like an adult, these women choose instead to lash out at the women they are jealous in a hateful, superior manner.

Posted by: one lurker of many | October 24, 2006 1:39 PM

"I hesitate to applaud a parent whose career a) doesn't seem to provide a stable income for her kid; and b) seems to foreclose many, many options to a child as she grows and matures because of the nature of the business and the mother's "choice.""

Just because her salary is half of what it was before does not mean it's not a "stable income." And what "options" exactly are we talking about?

You seem to be entirely too wrapped up in money-making and sticking to what you were educated to do (in this case, being an attorney) no matter what. What a shame.

Posted by: momof4 | October 24, 2006 1:44 PM

"one lurker of many"

What is there a lurker convention or something?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 1:49 PM

It sounds as though Marissa is providing a wonderful environment for her daughter. Nowhere does she state that she is having severe financial difficulties - just the occasional hard time (which we all have now and then). She spends lots of time with her daughter - how can that be bad? She has take your daughter to work day every day. She isn't keeping her out of school. She isn't endangering her - she is exposing her to many different cultures and environments. I say "you go girl".

Posted by: Silver Spring | October 24, 2006 1:53 PM

Marissa, what a great and inspiring story!

I am disappointed but not surprised that a few people found something negative to say. For those few who are worried about the girl not getting to do soccer, etc. because she's going to work with her mom, let me tell you that my own girl would do backflips of joy if she got to go to work with her uncle the photographer instead of to her regular old gymboree. Kids love to "help" and they feel proud and accomplished for helping with grown up things. Plus, Marisa's girl gets to spend a lot of time with her mom. Lucky kid!

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 24, 2006 2:01 PM

I've been thinking about changing my blog handle for a while, since I don't like mine very much. I definitely want to change now, since I think that Ms L and MSL can get confused, especially (I think) for Fo4, since I doubt the reading machine can distinguish between the two. Also, I've been identified by at least two people in real life.

I'll repost with a new handle soon. In the meantime, I'm willing to take suggestions...

Posted by: Ms L | October 24, 2006 2:08 PM

Actually, had the links worked, you'd see that I was advocating voting against, not voting for:

Plain Text:

--MD-Sen: http://www.gazette.net/stories/021006/montsta130223_31925.shtml
--VA-Sen: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/26/politics/main2039589.shtml
--VA-10: http://www.nationalcenter.org/PRJTHGWolfEarmark1006.html

It's called a Google Bomb. Learn it, love it, live it.

Posted by: Real Family Values | October 24, 2006 2:17 PM

Ms L - how about something that reflects your cohousing neighborhood?

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 24, 2006 2:18 PM

"I say "you go girl"."

I say you go girl should probably go.

Posted by: George Carlin | October 24, 2006 2:18 PM

In MSL's defense, there were a couple of sentences in the post that gave me pause, just because of the way they were phrased -- starting her own business because "I thought that it would ultimately be a better lifestyle for ME," and adopting because SHE "would never be 40 without a child." The way that is written, you could interpret those decisions as being all about her -- for ex., the people I know who changed jobs when they were thinking about kids always described their reasons as something like "I thought this would be more manageable when I have a family," not just that it would be better for THEM.

That said, I don't think that interpretation of those passages really reflects Marissa at all -- I suspect that's just what happens when you try to distill your life down to 300 words. I think the rest of the post makes it clear that she loves her daughter and makes the best decisions she can for BOTH of them, and her follow-up post really supports that. And I fall very firmly in the camp that says it can be a good thing to expect your kids to adapt to your life, as long as you are keeping their needs in mind while doing so -- I bet her daughter will learn a tremendous amount from watching her mother work.

And the paycut? Sounds like Marissa has been very responsible there as well -- saving up before making the jump, working both jobs until she knew this would take off, keeping her expenses low. If you just run off and follow your dream regardless of the consequences, that's shirking your parental responsibilities. But that's clearly not Marissa. Yes, there is definitely some insecurity in running your own show, but she seems to be managing it as well as possible for both herself and her daughter. And that's all anyone can do. More power to her for having the guts to follow her dreams and the sense to manage them so well.

Posted by: Laura | October 24, 2006 2:21 PM

"Of course the ideal is for a child to have 2 parents"

For some kids, and many parents, the ideal might be to have 1 parent, or 4 or 8. Who knows? The nuclear family so many of you are extolling is an awfully new phenomenon; 2 parents just happens to be *your* model, but it isn't necessarily the best one.

Posted by: Grimm | October 24, 2006 2:23 PM

Grimm - 2 parents is not a "new phenomenom". Having 2 parents is not synonymous with a nuclear family, even in extended families there are basically 2 parents, of course with grandparents, aunts, uncles and all the rest. I'm not quite sure what your point is.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 24, 2006 2:33 PM

What's wrong with saying I want to have a child by the time I'm 40?

Is it better to live a life of regret, wishing you were a parent, while adoptable children languish without loving homes? Is it wrong to want to raise a child before you're old enough to collect social security? What exactly is wrong with this statement of hers? If a woman doesn't meet her ideal mate and/or isn't able to conceive, she's not allowed to want to give an orphan a family and a stable home?

Posted by: question | October 24, 2006 2:36 PM

I don't see anything wrong with that statement. It's like saying I want to get pregnant before I am 35! It what she wants, it's not saying anything bad about anyone else or their choices.

Posted by: scarry | October 24, 2006 2:41 PM

Having two parents isn't new, but the idea that children should live with both biological parents, who should be married to each other, and that this family configuration is ideal for both parents and children, is.

My point is that lots of kids are raised by one parent, and many by at least 4 (me & my second husband, my first husband and his second wife), all very successfully. There are lots of different arrangements and numbers that work for kids.

Posted by: Grimm | October 24, 2006 2:43 PM

Glad things are working out for you grimm. You make a very good point.

Posted by: scarry | October 24, 2006 2:44 PM

ms l, you are a very wise lady. My jaw about dropped when I heard your first post of the day.. then your second one... Then you pointed out very clearly that ms l and msl are different when you look at them, but sound exactly alike to me.

My suggestion:
Ms Neighbor

From your contribution to this blog, I would like it if you were my neighbor.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 24, 2006 2:48 PM

You know, I'm always surprised how judgemental people get over a 300-word essay that probably has had a lot of details excised due to space limitations.

First of all, the OP (original poster) does seem to have a lot of balance. She has responded and confirmed that there are significant male role models in her child's life. It is something she thinks is important. I applaud her for that very intelligent forethought and planning.

And for all those little luxuries that you all are talking about, piano lessons and soccer, etc. You need to step back and get some perspective. This type of tunnel vision that the upper middle class standards are the only way and best way to parent are very limiting. Marissa seems to have found a good balance between ensuring that her childs needs are met with love and intelligent planning. To say that she is neglectful because she doesn't necessarily provide luxuries to the child is imposing your very mercenary value system on someone else.

And for those who think that having the child help out in her business is somehow wrong, you also need to get perspective. There are many family-owned businesses out there where the children participate. How many American farms over the last couple of centuries had children that had to do farm chores to help keep the family farm (e.g. business) running? How many mom and pop stores or restaurants out there have kids helping after school? How many families have a home run business and kids have to answer the phone for the business after school? It's not wrong and it's not mistreatment if her child has to help her with her business occasionally. She chose this career and lifestyle so that she could spend more time with her child. She left a more lucrative career, but one that would have severely limited her time with her child. I think the time and attention and love that she is able to spend on her child by making the career change was clearly worth it for her.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 24, 2006 2:59 PM

"She left a more lucrative career, but one that would have severely limited her time with her child. I think the time and attention and love that she is able to spend on her child by making the career change was clearly worth it for her."

It's at this point in the blog each day that I routinely feel the desire to scream. Please consider, or limit, the implicit negative judgments about those who stay IN lucrative careers for the good of their children. (DadWannaBe, I'm not suggesting this was your point at all.) My husband has a tendency toward depression and is not equipped, for a variety of reasons, to be a SAHD. He, however, also has a career highly subject to layoffs, outsourcing, whatever, and he loves it. A few years ago it became clear that our marraige and our family life were suffering from the substantial stress brought on by a 16 month in which he was jobless, resulting in debt accumulated paying for health insurance for the kids, a new roof and the light bill. We decided the best response, for our family, was for me to attend law school. Now in my mid-40s with a whole new fresh set of education debt to go with the debt we need to pay off from the period of unemployment, I've made a career change that doesn't allow for alot of time at home. What it does do is provide some breathing room for my husband and our family as a whole. It also requires that our kids pitch in with chores and each family member thinks long and hard about how we spend our free time. Is our house spic and span? Rarely. Sometimes those careers and career choices that seem all about money to others, are really about something entirely different -- love of your husband and kids. Love takes different forms in different families, if you open your eyes to all the options.

Posted by: NC lawyer | October 24, 2006 3:13 PM

Having known Marissa personally for most of our adult life, pre-adpotion, during adoption and post-adoption, pre-cancer, during chemo and post-cancer, during her career at a law firm, deciding to quit and become a photographer, I observed the following:
1. every decision she has made has been well thought out
2. she is goal oriented to making her life better, not worse
3. always wanted to be a mom
4. has tailored her schedule and life so that her daughter ALWAYS comes first
4. is courageous and driven
5. most importantly, mother and daughter are HAPPY!
Shouldn't that be everyone's goal?

Posted by: anna | October 24, 2006 3:37 PM

While my husband and I are not in any financial difficulties now, nor are we divorced, there were several rough patches in the past, as well as with our relationship. There are no guarantees that we will make it, even though we have been married umpteen years. I also had a rubicon that I wouldn't cross--age 30. If I didn't have kids by 30, I would adopt. Of course, that was my thought at age 15, when 30 was REALLY old :). Several of my friends have had kids in their 40's, but that was rare where I grew up. But out of several women I know with biological kids, many are divorced, and not of their own accord. I remember visiting a family from church as a kid. There were 4 kids. The dad was so abusive--I actually witnessed him beating his kid with a belt. He thought he was pretty cool, discipling his kid in front of all of us. Big man. The mom was really nice from what I could see, but he hit her too.

My dad used to take me to work with him as a kid--in fact, he took all of us at one time or another. My daughter still loves to talk about 'take your daughter to work day" (his), and both kids have come to work with me (of course, I am a teacher, so they aren't so impressed). Kids feel very empowered when they learn a skill. From Parttimer

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 3:45 PM

Anna - it is a great thing supporting your friend in this blog... also, I am not sure about the other single parents out there, but I could have never survived this long without the support of my friends.

Posted by: single mom | October 24, 2006 4:26 PM

Thank you for a wonderful post about achieving balance. I am impressed by your planning and determination. Your daughter is very lucky.

Posted by: DAR | October 24, 2006 4:26 PM

Ms L - I second Father of 4's suggestion!

anna, what a nice post - sounds like Marissa's daughter has a number of caring adults in her life.

Posted by: Megan | October 24, 2006 5:55 PM

Thanks, Fo4 and Megan! I'm adopting your idea.

Posted by: Neighbor | October 25, 2006 8:08 AM

Marissa -

Your blog was insightful and well thought out. It is clear that you love your daughter and that she is happy with her/your life. Your photography is beautiful as well and I wish you all the luck in the world. Your daughter is blessed to have you for her mom.

Posted by: Aunt of 3 (+1) | October 25, 2006 8:37 AM

"Love takes different forms in different families, if you open your eyes to all the options."

NC lawyer --

That says it all. Thank you for your story.

Posted by: pittypat | October 25, 2006 9:20 AM

Sorry to be so late...didn't see some of the last few posts until now. I know most people won't see this but anyways...

NC Lawyer--I definitely agree. And you are correct that that was not my point, but you make a very good counterpoint. My point is that a personal decision for the good of your family (whether it is to work, stay at home or change careers ) should not be criticized. Every family is different and has different dynamics and what works for one family, spouse or child will not necessarily work for another. Unless there is clear sign of poor judgement (and the opposite seems to be the case here), it is inappropriate to devalue or judge another person's choice. I was responding to those who implied that the OP was neglecting or harming her child by her choice to change careers. I think she made an intelligent decision base on what would work for her and her child. She planned financially ahead of time and then chose an option that would give her more time for her child. This wouldn't work for everyone but was a good choice for her.

It sounds like you and your husband made an equally intelligent decision for your family based on its needs.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 25, 2006 2:20 PM

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