Diane Tupper graduated from law school around the same time as one of her daughter's finished high school.
She remembers getting frustrated with her old sewing machine trying to finish up a grad dress for her daughter.
So as a gift for finishing her law degree, her children pitched in and bought Tupper a new sewing machine.
It was a symbolic gesture in a way, because it represented the balancing act that women have to maintain if they pursue a career while bringing up their children.
Her career as a family and divorce lawyer - while bringing up five children - laid the foundation for a novel that Tupper published this year called Balancing Act.
The novel is "based loosely" on Tupper's life, and tells the story of the year in the life of an articling student.
Each chapter is a month and a new case - Tupper tried hard to explain the legal aspect of each case in each chapter, injecting it with humour, like the office renovations, which never seem to end.
Balancing Act is a story of a mother trying to balance the demands of her work and the demands of her family.
Tupper said she has always enjoyed writing, and as a lawyer, she wrote several chapters of the family law manual.
The idea for her book was stewing in her head for about 10 years.
Before going back to school, Tupper worked as a bookkeeper in her father's company, but at times, she hoped the books would balance to break the tedium of the job as she enjoyed facing challenges.
As a single mother of five children, Tupper went back to school and completed a law degree and practised family law until she retired at 64.
Tupper saw her share of sad cases, as family law and divorce brings out the worst in people.
"They want you to go to court to fight over the souvenir
spoons," she said.
What upset Tupper the most was when children were used in the divorce battle.
Sometimes writing came easily and she'd sit down at 5 p.m. and look up at the clock and it was 11 p.m. Other times, she'd stare at a blank screen for a long time.
When women work long hours, "you feel really guilty about leaving your kids," Tupper said.
But she said going back at school was good for her, and all her children pitched in with part-time jobs and helped with the chores around the house.
"Getting my law degree was a family affair," Tupper said, although she did worry about her teenagers being at home by themselves.
But as a single parent, she said her children didn't have stereotypes as role models, and she made sure that it wasn't just the girls washing the dishes and the boys cutting the grass - "everybody did everything."
"I do think it's good for kids to see women can have a career," she said.
The only negative comment Tupper has received about her book was that it was too short, and she is now working on a sequel.
Tupper will hold a book signing of Balancing Act at the Save-On-Foods on 203rd Street and Lougheed Highway on Sunday, Oct. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m.