How having a second child is a lot like hiring a new associate // Life Without Parole

wild birds
“In both cases, the newbie is a threat to the hierarchy.”

By Sharon Bauer

On Tuesday May 30th, 2017


The story I’m about to tell you is true. Except the people aren’t real, I made up the quotes and I made up some of the events. Okay, a lot of the events. But otherwise it’s totally true.

I’m at my office, trying to get through a pile of work, when an email pops up from one of the legal assistants. A new associate, Sarah, has just joined the firm, and the assistant has to work for her in addition to Jim, the associate she’s worked under for five years.

Email: Now that I have to split my time between Jim and Sarah, Jim is not pleased.

Reply: Tell him you’ll still pay attention to him. And remember, this is a hard transition.

Moments after hitting send, I get a text from my husband. He’s on paternity leave with our five-year-old son, Ethan, and our six-month-old daughter, Kate.

Text: I don’t know what to do with Ethan. Since we brought Kate home, he thinks I’m not giving him any attention. He keeps acting out.

Who’d have thought hiring a new associate would be just like having a second child? In both cases, the newbie is a threat to the hierarchy. I text back exactly what I told the assistant. As I get back to work, an email pops up from the managing partner.

Email: Jim is in a bad mood. I gave Sarah four new files. I’d offered them to Jim six months ago, before Sarah started, and he wouldn’t take them. Now he’s upset. What should I do?

Reply: Ask if he’s feeling slighted that you’re giving love to the newbie. I guarantee that’s it. Now another text from my needy husband:

Text: Ethan is freaking out. I gave Kate his box of old toys. The one he hasn’t touched in years. Ethan is having a meltdown. What do I do?

Why does everyone come to me with questions about babies, big and small? I look at the email I just sent my partner. Yup, this works. Copy. Paste. Send. In a few minutes, my phone buzzes again. It’s the husband:

Text: Sorry I bothered you. I know how busy you are. What can I do to help out tonight?

Reply: Let’s start with a back rub and see where it goes . . .

Then the managing partner writes me to say thanks and asks how he can pay me back. I instinctively cut and paste:

Reply: Let’s start with a back rub and see where it goes . . .

Send. Oh no.

wild birds


Sharon BauerSharon Bauer is a partner at Fireman Steinmetz Daya LLP and Precedent’s parenting columnist. Follow the mother of two on Twitter at @SharonBauerLLB.



Precedent Summer 2017 IssueThis story is from our Summer 2017 issue.




Illustration by Adrian Forrow