Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Your Turn - Kate's Story

"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally.  If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at, or click here.

I wish I could say this was my plan all along, that I could claim this as my own brand of wisdom—but I can’t. I do think I was guided along a plan that was best for me, a plan that would incorporate all the things I held to be important.

It was important to me to go on to graduate school and do something meaningful in my life. It was also important to me to be the best mother I could be to any children I might have. I had no idea how to reconcile those two aims.

I applied to the medical school of my choice . . .  and I was waitlisted. I became a police officer and a firefighter, and I volunteered on the side as an EMT. I met and married another police officer who had two children already. Medical school was put on a back burner as I immersed myself in sudden motherhood and cut back my work hours.

Then, my marriage fell apart, and I was a single mom of a very young child. If trying to balance a career is hard when you have a spouse to share the load, being a single mom borders on the brink of insanity. Going to graduate school was no longer even on the agenda. Instead, I worked as a medical transcriptionist from home as it seemed the best way to provide for us and to be a “stay-at-home mom.”

This way, I was there when my daughter got up in the morning, there to see her off to school, there to welcome her home and hear about her day, there to make dinner, help with homework, and take her to activities, and there to tuck her into bed at night. One thing I especially appreciated was that I did not have to weigh my work needs against how sick my daughter might be. School breaks were more difficult because she had to entertain herself for hours at a time while I worked.

However, my brain was melting. I would have mental images of my brain, in its liquefied form, draining from my ear canals. The monotony was driving me insane. Transcription is putting some else’s words into written form. I have learned that, professionally, I need to create my own words, my own ideas, and develop my own themes.

About two years ago, I was called to jury duty for a second-degree rape case. It was a two-week trial. As I sat in the jury box, I realized that this was where I needed to be, in a courtroom, advocating for what is just and right. The thought had never crossed my mind before. No one in my family was an attorney. In fact, my family was shocked when I became a police officer. Besides, I hated television depictions of lawyers. I found them conceited, condescending, abrasive, and rude. But the lawyers, on both sides, in this trial behaved nothing like that. This was important work. The lawyers crafted their own arguments, and used their own creative abilities.

I did some calculations. My daughter was older, more independent, and developing her own interests. She still needed a parent, but not a full-time caregiver. We could both be students, graduate at the same time, and begin new adventures.

The trial ended, and I began studying for the LSAT (and started my blog, Today and Tomorrow). I started law school the following year. I am currently finishing my first year of school. My daughter is currently finishing her sophomore year of high school.

I love the way it has worked out. I wish I could say that I had two important goals in my life, both of which asked for my focus and dedication, and that I decided to raise my family first and then to go to law school and begin my second career. But, that would not be the truth. The truth is that while I did make conscious decisions to put my children first while they were young and have faith that the career would work out later, it was happenstance in light of my personal efforts. Had I been accepted to medical school immediately, I would have gone. Then, if and when children came, I would have had to make the same heart-straining decisions as other dual-career women. Instead, mercifully, I was waitlisted, and the priorities presented themselves in an order that was best for me.

Now, I want to be a successful example of another option for women to choose from. Clearly, this plan is not without concern. I am “old.” I will have huge student loan debt. I have more responsibilities while I am in school than my footloose and single classmates. But, I am so incredibly happy. 

This post was written by Kate.  You can read her blog at


  1. Congratulations on your second shot at a career! Your story is inspirational, and it's nice to see someone who wants to be a lawyer for the right reasons.

  2. I think it's awesome that you are pursuing your dream and taking a shot at what you want to do! I think you're a great example to your daughter.

  3. Thank you for the kind comments--and thank you, Shannon, for including my story! I love this series of posts. What a great idea.


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