Read the first chapter of Chasing Superwoman
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Susan DiMickele serves as partner in a large law firm and has practiced law for nearly fifteen years. She has won numerous professional honors, including being named Ohio Super Lawyer since 2004 and being selected for The Best Lawyers in America. She has written dozens of articles in her field and has served as a contributing author to several national publications. For the past seven years, her greatest accomplishment and challenge is raising her three children to know and love God. She is happily married to her husband of eighteen years, Doug, and they are the proud parents of Nicholas, Anna, and Abigail.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out
your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
Matthew 5:48 (MSG)
Most people hate lawyers. This is why so many lawyers marry other lawyers—no one else likes them. Fortunately, I met my husband, Doug, before I became a lawyer, and he still likes me. At least that’s what he tells me.
If I have to be honest, I really don’t like Lady Lawyer. She brings out the worst in me. Given the choice, I would much rather put on my mommy cape and play Devoted Mommy. But most days and more nights and weekends than I would care to admit, Devoted Mommy is busy playing Lady Lawyer. I didn’t set out to give Lady Lawyer this much power. It just sort of happened. I always insisted my career would take a back seat to the more important things in life—my family, my faith, my soul. I never thought Lady Lawyer would move in, take over, fire the staff, and change my identity. She’s known to get her way. Lady Lawyer is shrewd, self-sufficient, demanding, impatient, and arrogant. She gets right to the point and doesn’t waste your time. Why would any of her clients pay her exorbitant hourly rate in six-minute increments for anything less than the best? She doesn’t make mistakes, and if you work for Lady Lawyer you’d better not make any mistakes either. The standard is perfection. Who said anything about forgiveness? There are no second chances.
Devoted Mommy is quite the opposite. She’s warm and patient. She wastes lots of time picking up toys, reading books, and sitting on the floor playing patty cake. As much as she likes to be efficient, her children always want to help her, so everything takes twice as long, and she makes lots of mistakes and lots of messes. Devoted Mommy knows the important thing is to say you are sorry and ask and receive forgiveness. After all, no one is perfect.
Okay, maybe Devoted Mommy isn’t warm and patient all the time and maybe she would turn into Evil Mommy part of the time if she stayed at home with her kids all day, but you get the point. Lady Lawyer would make a terrible mother, which is why I have to keep her away from the children. Not to mention she has a terrible mouth on her. It’s not intentional. It’s just that most lawyers don’t understand plain English unless it is laced with heavy profanity.
If only I could play Devoted Mommy more often.
The Evils of Television
At least Lady Lawyer and Devoted Mommy actually have something in common. They both hate television. Lady Lawyer has better things to do. For her, TV is the ultimate waste of time and exercise in inefficiency. Simply put, TV is for idiots. It’s mind numbing, unenlightening, and unproductive. Why watch TV when you can bill hours instead? So Lady Lawyer watches TV only as a last resort, when she’s multitasking. Sometimes it’s faster to catch the local news and major world events on the tube. It becomes a necessary evil.
Devoted Mommy hates TV for different reasons. It’s not a necessary evil, it’s just plain evil. It’s like inviting the devil into your home and asking him to raise your children. “Gee, Satan, would you do me
a favor and watch the kids for a few hours, ‘cause I’m really busy right now and I’d prefer to have them hypnotized and brain dead so that I can get some work done.”
The other day while I was playing Weekend Mommy, Doug and seven-year-old Nick were watching The Bad News Bears. I was appalled. The language was filthy. These snotty-nosed kids and their recalcitrant coach had no respect for authority or each other, and Nick would soon be talking like a potty mouth if we continued to let this trash into our living room. Suddenly, Devoted Mommy transformed into Fundamentalist Mommy.
“I don’t want to hear that language in our house ever again, and I want that filthy show turned off.” Doug and Nick just looked at me. I continued, “TV is straight from the pit of hell and I can’t sit by and watch you fill your brain with this garbage.”
Doug may be incorrigible, but I still have to exercise some moral authority over my children.
I learned that from my own mother. We had knock-down, drag-out fights over Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels. I would sneak downstairs and watch these shows with my older sisters over my mother’s deep disapproval. (Which was worse, Jack and Chrissy living in sin, or Farrah
Fawcett showing her cleavage? I never got an answer, I just knew they were both bad.) What kind of mother would I be if I let The Bad News Bears ruin Nick’s innocence and lead him down a path of destruction?
So later that night, after I put the girls to bed, I told Nick that we needed to talk. We sat in his bed before prayers, as we do every night, and I explained to him that some things on TV are wrong, and the
Bad News Bears really shouldn’t say bad words.
“Did you hear bad words in the movie today?”
Nick responded, “I’m not sure. I know stupid is a bad word.” Nick is a smart kid, so he saw this as an opportunity to ask me, point blank, what the other bad words were that had caused me so much
concern. Now I was stuck. Fundamentalist Mommy was going to have to feed her own son swear words. So we talked about how “hell” is a bad word, and why you wouldn’t want to tell someone to “go to
hell,” because that’s where Satan lives.
Nick asked, “Is it still okay to say ‘for heaven’s sake’?”
“Yes,” I said. “That’s still okay.”
I was thankful he still had some innocence left. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him the other bad words in the show. We’ll save that for another day. Fundamentalist Mommy can take a rest for now.
I don’t turn into Fundamentalist Mommy very often. But Devoted Mommy clearly needed to have more of a spiritual focus, especially with Lady Lawyer sucking her dry all those hours during the week. I actually prefer the term “Spiritual Mommy.” The Fundamentalist label has way too much baggage, even though I’m thankful for my roots.
So Spiritual Mommy decided to teach Sunday school. I could kill two birds with one stone and spend quality time with the kids on the weekend while exerting Spiritual Mommy’s much-needed moral
authority. Maybe I could even reverse some of the brain injury from all that TV.
Given my schedule during the week, Doug and most of my friends thought I was downright crazy for taking on another weekend responsibility. “Suz, just what you need, another thing to add to your schedule. Haven’t you ever heard of the word ‘no’?”
Actually, since I became a mother, ‘no’ has almost evaporated from my vocabulary. I reserve it for when I really need it—like being asked to make cupcakes for the bake sale, organize the parent phone tree, or volunteer to be the lunch monitor during lunch bunch. After all, I can’t do everything, right? But when it comes to the spiritual development of my children, Devoted Mommy reminds me that, unlike baking cookies or being a lunch monitor, I really can’t delegate that one very easily.
To my pleasant surprise, Sunday school became my favorite hour of the week. I wear casual clothes and comfortable shoes, sing silly songs, play duck-duck-goose, and sit on the floor with the children while teaching them that God is your friend, even when you can’t see Him.
I remember my own Sunday school days vividly like they were yesterday. I’ll never forget that poster in my classroom of Jesus knocking on the door to your heart. Of course there’s no door handle because the door can only be opened from the inside. It was during that Sunday school class that I asked Jesus to come in my heart. Some people say that young children can’t understand spiritual things, but I beg to differ. Life has become much too complicated. Sometimes I want to go back to the simple faith of my childhood, but I can’t. So I do the next best thing. I live vicariously through my children. I never realized until after I became a parent how entirely normal it is to live vicariously through your children. Every parent does it. That’s why so many of us spend inordinate amounts of money on Christmas gifts and Disney World. (Who said anything about the kids?) I barely remember going to Disney World with my parents, although they love to talk about it like it was yesterday. I hear the same stories over and over again: “Remember when Susan screamed and cried because she wanted to go on the rides with her older sisters, and then we had to ride ‘It’s a Small World’ over and over again.”
I used to think, “Don’t they get tired of telling these old stories? Do they really think anyone is listening?”
Now I understand why.
Lady Lawyer, of course, doesn’t have time during the week to prepare for Sunday school. It would cut into her billable hours. Yet sometimes Spiritual Mommy convinces her to help gather Sunday
school materials, particularly if it involves Internet shopping. I looked all over the Internet for that picture of Christ knocking and finally found one that is similar to my own childhood memories. I ordered it immediately—the shipping and handling cost more than the poster, but I willingly gave over my credit card number. It was worth every penny.
The Unveiling of the Mona Lisa
When the Jesus picture arrived, Nick and Anna were bursting with curiosity. How many of my online purchases arrive in a long tube the size of Texas? Lady Lawyer had outdone herself. A new toy? A treasure map? The possibilities were endless. Unfortunately, the kids always raid the mail before I get home from work. I should have had the picture sent to my office, like I do with Christmas gifts. Last Christmas I bought Doug a new office chair online and sent it straight to my office. The only problem I hadn’t considered was getting it home. The box was too heavy for me to carry from my office tower to the parking garage, so I had to beg a few guys in my office to help. That cost Lady Lawyer a few favors. But a poster? I could have carried that myself.
Nick and Anna desperately wanted to open it, but I told them they would have to wait for Sunday school. It was going to be like the unveiling of the Mona Lisa. I could hardly wait myself. At minimum, I needed a sneak preview. After all, what if they had sent the wrong picture? It might be a poster of Daniel in the lion’s den, the last temptation of Christ, or worse yet, what if they had mistakenly sent
some trash from a pornographic site? I couldn’t take that risk with the spiritual future of fifteen preschoolers resting on my shoulders. So after the kids went to bed, I pulled out the poster. I gazed at the
picture longingly, relieved to see Jesus knocking in the familiar scene. For the next fifteen minutes, I couldn’t stop staring. Could faith be this simple? Maybe when I was five years old, but not now. Not in
For most people, seeing is believing. “Show me the money.” “Do you have the goods?” “The proof is in the pudding.” I get tired of living by these rules all week. Preschoolers are different. Their hearts have not yet been hardened by the cold reality of the real world. Most of them haven’t been sued yet.
Maybe if I just brought the picture of Christ knocking and put it in my office, in place of my diploma, things at work would be more spiritual. I know that Jesus is there, even when I can’t see Him, but I frankly forget about Him when I step into my office. Spiritual Mommy thought it was an excellent idea to bring the poster to work. That way, when Lady Lawyer gets out of line, she can just look at Jesus knocking and be reminded of her deep faith. I’ve been told my office really needs to be redecorated.
Lady Lawyer quickly squashed that idea. People would think I had completely cracked. Besides, lots of people would be offended. What would happen if the six o’clock news came to get a headshot of me at my desk and the picture of Christ knocking was hanging in the background? The audience would think my law firm was some kind of religious cult, and I’d never hear the end of it.
So I left the picture of Christ knocking at home. One of these days when Lady Lawyer is shopping on the ‘net, I’m going to make her order a frame. We’ll hang the framed picture right next to the
TV. That way, when Doug and Nick are watching the Bad News Bears or some other trashy show and I’m not there to turn it off, Jesus will gently remind them that TV is evil.
Better yet, we’ll hang it in place of the TV.
One of the Sunday school parents asked me if I was a teacher. I laughed out loud. When I told her I was a lawyer, she looked surprised. Spiritual Mommy had successfully kept Lady Lawyer muzzled, which isn’t easy to do. I took her surprise as a compliment, and said thank you. I explained to her that the reason I enjoy teaching Sunday school so much was because it is so dramatically different from my everyday life. After dealing all week with grown-up problems, complex legal issues, and the politics of a large law firm, I welcome Silly Putty and puppet shows.
I’ve gotten good at checking my lawyer cape at the door when it comes to church. No suit, no high heels, not too much lipstick, no cell phone or BlackBerry, no dirty looks, no potty mouth, and lots of confession and forgiveness. I wear my hair down with comfortable shoes and suburban clothes, smiling pleasantly while I’m holding Abby in one arm and my Sunday school bag in the other. Let’s face it, most parents don’t have high expectations of a Sunday school teacher. They just want an hour of peace.
But teaching Sunday school has its low points too. Even Devoted Mommy gets tired of cutting out crafts late on Saturday nights and waking up early on Sunday mornings to get three kids out the door. Sometimes I wake up on Sunday morning and I’m sick and I can’t find a substitute, or my kids are sick and I want to stay home and take care of them, but I can’t. Sometimes my class is rambunctious, and I don’t have a helper and they all have to go to the bathroom at the same time, or one of the kids freaks out, or I just feel like being with my own kids instead of spreading myself so thin. Sometimes I think it’s not fair to leave Abby in the nursery for another hour and I miss her and wish she could join us in Sunday school, but the few times I have brought her I have been completely unable give the rest of the class any attention.
Sometimes the whole class is staring into space and I don’t think anyone is listening to the lesson, but I still know I am planting seeds.
My Sunday school class is filled with your typical upper-middleclass children, and while most of them are from loving homes, some of them are beginning to struggle with things that no one can adequately explain. Terminal illness of a loved one. Divorce. Even death. One little boy in my class, we’ll call him Charlie, lost his daddy last year. When I pulled out the picture of Jesus knocking, Charlie’s eyes locked
mine, and I knew that he needed to know that Jesus would always be there and would never leave him, so I looked into Charlie’s eyes and said, “Once Jesus comes into your heart, He will never leave.”
The next week, Charlie’s grandma stopped me after class and told me that Charlie had asked Jesus to come into his heart. I gave her a big hug and we both fought back the tears. Charlie doesn’t come to class as much as he used to, and I know it’s hard for his grandma to bring him on the weekends, but I still had the privilege of planting a few seeds.
I like planting seeds. It beats billable hours. Lady Lawyer can’t say, “Sorry I didn’t get the agreement done, but I planted a few seeds.” Or, “I know we lost the case, but I laid some groundwork for next time. Give it a few years and you’ll see some results.” Her clients would fire her.
Sunday school teachers don’t have to worry about getting fired. Why? Because we teach Sunday school for free. It’s not like there’s a long line of volunteers waiting to take over. If you pass the criminal background and reference check and like kids, you’re in.
The second we start paying Sunday school teachers, I’m done. Who wants the pressure of another billable hour? Not me. Some things money can’t buy. Besides, even Lady Lawyer needs to hang up her cape on the weekends. Can Superwoman really live in two worlds? What is really behind the cape, and am I ever going to figure out my true identity? And what does it mean to live out my “God-created identity”?3 I know there aren’t easy answers, but that still doesn’t stop me from asking the questions. Sometimes I wonder, Who am I really chasing anyway?
©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Chasing Superwoman by Susan DiMickele. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.