Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Huge Weight Off My Shoulders

Last summer, I received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was being considered for jury duty in Federal Court.  This is different from being called to Municipal Court, in that Federal Court jury duty lasts for a period of two months.  Yes, you heard that right.  At the time, I completed my questionnaire and was sure to describe my occupation as a "nursing, stay-at-home mother," since there was no way to request an exemption.  I returned the form, heard nothing back, and forgot about the whole mess, thinking I was off the hook.

Boy was I wrong.

Saturday evening, as I was enjoying the last weekend of Spring Break, Ryan checked the mail and brought me another official letter.  This time, it was the real deal.  I was officially summoned to appear as a juror in District Court, beginning April 30th and ending July 6th.  On the Friday and Sunday before my first court appearance, I was instructed to call the hotline number to verify that my presence in court would indeed be needed the following Monday, and then I was to be on call each week, repeating the instructions each weekend, since juries are selected on Monday mornings.  At 7:45 am.  In downtown Austin.  I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

This time, there was an excuse form included, so I politely explained my current situation as the mother and primary caregiver to two young children, with a husband who works long hours and is preparing for a trip to China later this year.  I mentioned that I do sometimes use a sitter, though she is a college student and only available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings until 1 pm.  All completely true statements.

I didn't hold much hope in being excused though, because I've heard horror stories of judges throwing airline tickets for previously booked trips in the faces of potential jurors, and even of a mother held in contempt of court for bringing her children to jury duty when a sitter could not be found.  When I was in college, my Linguistics professor was assigned to a Federal grand jury, and missed part of an entire semester while her husband, also a Linguistics professor, filled in for her.  Things did not bode well for me and I've spent the past week planning acceptable outfits, researching bus routes, and recruiting possible caretakers for the boys.  Not to mention losing sleep over the prospect of taking on what amounts to a part-time job paying five dollars an hour on top of my full-time job as a mother to James and Rhys.

But things changed today, when I received a recorded message notifying me that my excuse has been granted, and I am off the hook.  For real this time. As my father-in-law says, "Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  Amen!"

I'm a responsible member of society, respect the legal system, and understand the need to fulfill my civic duties, but I'm also responsible for the lives of two little boys on a daily basis, and I have to put them first.  Thankfully, the clerk understood this from the beginning and granted my excuse request. 

And to tie this all together, when I received the phone call, I didn't answer because I was busy getting fitted for new bras at Petticoat Fair, an amazing local bra boutique.  I haven't been properly fitted since I was pregnant with James, and I've literally lived in nursing bras since December of 2008, so I was well overdue for a proper fitting and some gorgeous new bras.

And before you ask, yes, I'm still breastfeeding, though Rhys usually nurses in the morning, before nap, and before bed, which are all times when we're at home.  I don't need a nursing bra to make it through the day now, and I treated myself to some pretty pieces that make me feel like a new woman.  In fact, when I got ready to leave, I realized that I just could not put my nursing bra back on after feeling a properly-fitted bra, so I wore a new one home.  I'm pretty sure I walked out of there feeling taller and lighter than I have in a long time.  It truly is amazing how a good bra can make such a difference in the way you feel.

A couple of hours later, when I went to get James from school, a friend saw me and said, "You look like you are getting smaller."  I just laughed and told her about my day.