Letter from the chair
NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: For many, service on the Standing Committee on Women and the Law has brought not only the challenge of leadership, but the challenge of motherhood. During her Chairmanship, Celia Gamrath gave birth to her first child, daugher Caroline Grace Gamrath. She followed in the footsteps of the past Chair of our Committee, Kate Kelly, who, during her chairmanship, gave birth to her first child, Josie Kelpsas. Also, member Merdedith Ritchie, in later 2002, while an active member of the committee, gave birth to her first child, William (Billy) H. Ritchie IV. Those who wish to become members of our committee should beware: service is multi-faceted and multi-tasking is a requirement!
After 10 years of marriage, my husband Rob (partner of Quarles & Brady) and I welcomed with joy our first child, Caroline Grace Gamrath. Caroline was born on Friday, January 9, 2004, at 7:01 a.m., just about the time we would normally be getting to work. At that moment, we knew life would never be the same. Our priorities, needs, hopes, and desires all changed instantly as we held our daughter in our arms and fell madly in love with her.
Throughout my pregnancy and maternity leave I talked to Caroline incessantly. I spent hours introducing myself and explaining to her who I was, what I did for a living, and why I would have to leave her soon after she was born to return to work. Like many of you, I struggled with the dilemma of leaving my child and returning to work, and was forced to ask myself why I worked and was it still worth it? Would I scar Caroline forever because I was not there for her 24/7? The answer, I decided, was "yes," it was worth it, and "no," she would not be scarred. In fact, I believe (hope and pray) that I will be an even better parent and role model for Caroline as she sees me balance motherhood and career and as she sees me thrive in both aspects of my life.
That's when it hit me! I was not just returning to a job or to work, but rather to my profession. A profession I love and one I am proud to be a part of. The profession of law is stimulating and gratifying; it helps me grow and develop as a person. It makes me happy to know that in some small way I am making the world a better place by helping my clients in their greatest time of need and by advancing the agenda of women in the community through the organized bar. It also makes me happy to be able to introduce Caroline to hundreds of dynamic, successful, independant women and to show her, by way of example, that there are no bounds to what she can accomplish.
I believe in my mind and heart that I can make this work. I can be a great mother and lawyer without any regrets. It is all about determination and spirit, staying positive and confident in my abilities, and having a good support system. Fortunately I have all the pillars of support I need: a wonderful husband and partner in parenting; supportive partners at Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck; excellent childcare; and an extensive network of experienced women, especially those on this Standing Committee, who have successfully maintained balance in their lives through motherhood and career and have shared with me tremendous wisdom and advice about both. For that, I thank you all, and I especially want to thank the members of this Committee for throwing me a wonderful surprise baby shower and giving Caroline a wardrobe that would make any child jealous!
Celia G. Gamrath