In Her Presence: Berkley Vitale


   It's not easy finding true friends, and I count my lucky stars that Berkley, a lawyer and blogger at Lady J, and I ended up at BC Law together. Since meeting, we've shared in getting married, career ups and downs, becoming (not) old married ladies, periods of feeling "pretty sure this is a quarter life crisis," Berkley becoming a mom, and everything in between. Although her story below is about her momma, I truly see her mom when I'm around Berkley. She's a smart, analytical attorney, and sincerely sets out to be the best friend, partner, and mom she can be. She's also really good at enjoying the simple, silly things, and after reading her story, I understand why.


    One of my favorite memories of my mom is her picking me up from middle school. Every Tuesday, my mom would shuttle me from school to my piano lessons. I dreaded nothing more than Tuesdays because they were the day I had piano lessons. I never practiced, and so I waited with a pit in my stomach for the moment I had to tell my piano teacher that I still did not know the song. But my mom insisted I take piano. Her mother and her mother’s mother both went to college in a time when women didn’t go to college and studied classical music. I, too, would learn this skill. On this particular Tuesday, I didn’t realize it was a Tuesday. It felt more like a Wednesday or Thursday. I was relieved to go home after a long day. So when my mom said, “ready to go to piano?” as I hopped in the car, all I could say was “NOOOOO ... I don’t want to go!” I knew protesting was futile -- my mom grew up in Iowa and had a mid-western work ethic -- If you commit to something, you go, no excuses. But to my surprise and delight she just said with a shrug, “OK.”

            We skipped piano and headed to 7-Eleven. I picked out my favorite sour candy, Shockers, and we headed to the park by the beach. I remember sitting on a picnic bench with my mom, eating my entire packet of sour candy, smelling the ocean breeze, feeling carefree and light, and perfectly happy. The kind of contentment that is so elusive in adult life. Even more than when I was young, kids are expected to do so much, and be so much. They go to school, after-school, sports, and have lessons for musical instruments. There is so much pressure to be non-stop productive all the time. But sometimes the best thing you can do as a kid, and as a mom, is say no. Sometimes you need to break the rules, eat candy, and sit by the beach with your mom.